Sixth Ave. to open for short stint

Expect to see more congestion and continued limited road access as the Southwest Harrison Street road closure, related to PSU’s Southwest Sixth Avenue construction, is delayed for a few more days.

Expect to see more congestion and continued limited road access as the Southwest Harrison Street road closure, related to PSU’s Southwest Sixth Avenue construction, is delayed for a few more days.

Portland State closed the intersection of Southwest Harrison Street and Sixth Avenue last week as part of a project to provide power to the future student recreational center on that block. Originally it was planned to open up one lane of traffic yesterday, but unforeseen difficulties caused the lane reopening to be delayed until Thursday, Feb. 28, according to Mark Fujii, project manager for the new rec center.

Fujii said Payne Construction, the project contractor, is still expected to finish all of their Sixth Avenue construction by March 1st. TriMet construction will take over on Sixth Avenue, March 3.

The PSU construction, which involves digging through concrete in order to lay electric and heating lines, is called the Campus Loop Project. The $7 million project will connect the upcoming Academic and Student Recreation Center to heating and energy sources housed in the basement of Cramer Hall, according to Fujii.

The project fell behind when workers discovered abandoned utility lines–including water, drainage and a telecommunication conduit–under the street where the new tunnel is being dug, Fujii said. He said excavating the unmarked utility lines has taken extra time and work.

He said that no utility drawings showed the lines, and Sixth Avenue was closed north of Harrison Avenue when the lines were discovered, so crews could work without traffic.

“We had no way of knowing any of that stuff would be down there,” Fujii said. “No one knew the lines were under the pavement and no drawings showed them, and we didn’t want to risk rupturing live lines and causing havoc in the working tunnels. It was a nasty surprise, but we’re making headway again.”

As part of a separate construction project, TriMet will re-close Sixth Avenue north of Harrison Street on March 3 until March 28 to continue work on the new MAX Green Line, currently being constructed on Sixth Avenue between Southwest Jackson and Hall streets. Kay Dannen, TriMet public information officer, said the work will close Sixth Avenue entirely between Harrison Street and Southwest Market Street as railing is laid for the Green Line.

Mark Gregory, assistant vice president of Finance and Administration, said the abundance of construction on campus since January is necessary, given the new building and the MAX project. He said the two projects were carefully planned to coincide, rather than be spread out over a longer period of time, in order to clear up traffic as quickly as possible.

“It’s a situation where we’re damned if we do it, and we’re damned if we don’t,” Gregory said. “Ultimately, we figure people at PSU will fare better dealing with a lot of work all at once, rather than just some work constantly being done over the next few years.”

Fujii said the tunnel work and the creation of a utility vault underground will continue on the north side of the School of Business Administration during spring term but it shouldn’t close any roads.

Work to connect the last segment of the utility lines will begin this summer, Fujii said, when a crew will install utility lines running underneath the Montgomery Street sky bridge that will connect the utility vault under the SBA lawn to heating and energy sources in Cramer Hall. He said the design for that project is not yet completed.

PSU construction update

Construction of a utility tunnel for the new student recreation center, located at Southwest Sixth Avenue and Harrison Street, will finish on March 1. Traffic on Sixth Avenue north of Harrison Street will open to one lane starting Feb. 28

TriMet construction update

Construction of a new MAX line will begin on Sixth Avenue, closing it from Harrison Street to Southwest Market Street, from March 3 to March 28. There will be no vehicle access and limited pedestrian access.