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Neighbors on the hook to fix potholes 'the size of small cars' on city street

Potholes along SE Clinton Street (KATU News photo)

Massive potholes along a gravel stretch of SE Clinton Street in Portland are the source of massive headaches for residents.

Neighbors who live on SE Clinton from 89th Avenue to 92nd Avenue can't rely on the city to make repairs because the neighborhood was annexed by the city of Portland.

Bob Hembree has lived there for the past three decades, and he was under the impression the annexation would lead to access to more services and possibly a paved road.

"All we got was higher taxes," Hembree said. "We didn't get better protection, or a fire district, and we sure as hell didn't get our street improved."

Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesperson Dylan Rivera told KATU there are about 59 miles of unimproved roads with Portland's city limits. These roads were not built to city standards, and therefore not maintained.

PBOT says neighbors are responsible for making necessary repairs.

The agency added neighbors could form a "local improvement district," where neighbors share the cost of repairs. However, they say that can be an expensive process and typically requires 100-percent participation.

"When I'm gone, it'll probably still be this way, that's my guess," Hembree said. "I wish that they had kept with what they originally indicated they were going to do."

PBOT says the gas tax measure Portlanders passed last fall will not provide resources for street repairs on unimproved roads.

"The Fixing Our Streets program, which is funded by the gas tax voters approved last year, is spent on safety and maintenance improvements on existing streets, not on streets the city doesn’t maintain," Rivera told KATU.

PBOT says property owners can hire a private contractor to perform the work. Once it meets city requirements, then PBOT will manage the street.

"For decades, the City has wrestled with its legacy of dozens of miles unpaved and under-improved streets," Rivera said. "In spring 2016, the city made progress on the issue by adopting the Local Transportation Infrastructure Charge, a charge on the new infill development occurring on these streets in single-family residential zones."

Greg Rice- who lives down the street from Hembree says no one can afford expensive street repairs on the block.

"We don't have the means to do it," Rice said. "It's costly for us to do."

Rice says he tries to avoid driving east on SE Clinton street from his home. The outer ends of the block are paved where it meets SE 89th and SE 92nd.

"The holes are the size of small vehicles," Rice said. "Any car that I have seen come down here: brake lights, big oscillations and it's usually not a pleasant trip."

PBOT says they want to hear from you. Participate in an online survey here.

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