22nd Avenue & River Road

Project Completed: April 2021

City of Milwaukie

Safe Access for Everyone (SAFE) is the City of Milwaukie, Oregon’s program dedicated to improving safety for everyone, no matter their method of transportation, with a goal to build 27.9 miles of sidewalk and multiuse paths and 900 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps in nine years. To help the City achieve this goal, we collaborated with City staff to make significant road safety improvements in Milwaukie’s Island Station neighborhood.   

The project’s multimodal corridor decreases congestion, making Downtown Milwaukie businesses more accessible to Milwaukie residents as well as residents in unincorporated Clackamas County. The corridor also provides access to the MAX Orange Line, TriMet bus lines, and local and regional parks. To reduce impervious areas and avoid triggering stormwater management regulations, AKS worked within the existing road footprint by reducing the vehicle travel lane width to 11 feet to allow sidewalks and bike lanes to be incorporated into the existing footprint. Resizing the vehicle travel lanes also provided a natural traffic-calming effect, further increasing the safety of cyclists and pedestrians and achieving SAFE’s goals. 

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The initiative also included adding new crosswalk markings and bike symbols in bike lanes to raise drivers' awareness and make the road safer for bicyclists, repaving 22nd Avenue and River Road for a smoother surface to improve vehicular travel, and relocating a water pressure control vault located beneath SE Sparrow Street and River Road to improve water pressure deficiencies in the neighborhood.

The northern limits of the project tie into the Trolley Trail, a regional multiuse paved trail system that connects from the Springwater Corridor to Oregon City. The trail is heavily used by residents and visitors alike. Our goal with the design was to provide a seamless connection between the trail and 22nd Avenue that eventually splits bike and pedestrian traffic as they continue south. The neighborhood now enjoys improved access to the Trolley Trail as well as the network of neighborhood trails that includes the Kellogg Creek Park Trail and the Kellogg Creek Bike and Pedestrian Bridge.

Over the course of the entire project, 2,725 linear feet of sidewalk, 2,950 linear feet of bike lane, 24 ADA-compliant curb ramps, and two pedestrian refuge islands were added in the Island Station neighborhood. Despite minor change orders during construction, the project came in below the awarded contract value and the project was completed on time in April 2021.


Water System Improvements

Our team conducted a comprehensive operation evaluation of the water system, verified water connections, and reconfigured the water system pressure boundary. After discovering significant water pressure deficiencies in the neighborhood, we designed improvements and developed a plan to minimize service disruptions and other impacts on residents. The solution was to reconfigure some of the distribution network. First, an existing obsolete PRV assembly located at the intersection of SE Sparrow Street and SE River Road was abandoned because it did not have a safe access point, presenting an unsafe working condition for City operations staff. A new PRV was installed within SE Wren Street between SE 22nd Avenue and SE River Road. SE 22nd Avenue was at the interface of the water system’s pressure zones 1 and 2, and modifying the pressure zones posed the challenge of unintentionally connecting the zones or creating a system dead-end, which would negatively affect water quality.  

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Our engineers performed a detailed water system design to implement the improvements while minimizing impacts to public service. Additional valves were installed to limit shutoffs and provide more customers with service during construction. A detailed construction staging plan proceeded valve to valve, so only a small group of residents would lack service and only for a short time.

Transportation Improvements

The City of Milwaukie’s SAFE program aims to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. The program aims to “upgrade the City’s network of connections, such as sidewalks, ramps, and crossings, to fill network gaps, replace portions that don’t meet ADA standards, and remove barriers for people to get where they need to go safely.” To meet the City’s goals for this project, AKS successfully overcame many design challenges, including steep grades and designing sidewalk improvements within the existing paved surface, and ultimately delivered on many of the City’s transportation goals.

One significant challenge was contending with the steep grades off the west side of a portion of SE 22nd Avenue and on the east side of SE River Road near SE Sparrow Street. Our team paid special attention to grading design to limit abrupt transitions to existing driveways and protect pedestrians from steep slopes. Because the area is slated for a planned greenway improvement project, improvements were designed to minimize future rework.

We also modified vehicle paths through the three-way intersection of SE River Road, SE Lark Street, and SE 23rd Avenue while maintaining circulation and creating a safe pedestrian crossing. The improvements included a new pedestrian refuge island, crosswalks, and an updated traffic pattern. These elements were critical for the continuity of the pedestrian route. Our unique design solution provided a more defined intersection that kept existing vehicle movements open, increased directional control, and made pedestrian and bicycles routes safer. Like the SE Sparrow Street intersection, the SE River Road, SE Lark Street, and SE 23rd Avenue intersection may be part of a future project.

Perpendicular parking was eliminated along the SE 22nd Avenue frontage of the River Road House, a local sports bar, to make the area safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists traveling between the Trolley Trail and SE McLoughlin Boulevard (OR 99E), including full-width paving in the project improved integration of the road section modifications. Prior to the 22nd Avenue and River Road SAFE project, vehicle collisions and frequent near-misses at the adjacent intersection had been witnessed by a business owner in the area. Upon project completion, this business owner voiced that the improvements had been effective in regulating traffic flow and reducing speeds, and also noted that within the first week of the sidewalk being poured, pedestrians no longer had to walk along the busy roadways, and the improved routes increased pedestrian traffic.

Reducing the width of the vehicle lane from 12 feet to 11 feet facilitated more effective use of the remaining right-of-way. New bike lanes and sidewalks on the west side of SE 22nd Avenue and the east side of SE River Road provide much-needed, safe, and accessible pedestrian and bicycle routes. This reassignment of the roadway prism aligns with the City’s emphasis on active transportation, shifting toward allocating the right-of-way equally between motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, rather than the traditional motor vehicle-centric focus. The narrower vehicle travel lanes also created a natural traffic-calming effect, increasing safety for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike.


Our land surveying team played a crucial role in this project by providing topographic and boundary surveys, establishing horizontal and vertical controls, and developing legal descriptions and as-built plans. They also coordinated with the local community and the City to ensure the safety of traffic and pedestrians during survey data collection.  

Thanks to their efforts, our survey report generated a Global Positioning System (GPS) control network referenced by all of the design disciplines throughout the project. This allowed the design team to use high-resolution photos and maps imported into multiple formats for analysis, resulting in a successful project outcome.


Our drone team was brought in to complete aerial mapping to establish a utility map. Using aerial mapping for surveying was beneficial because of the difficulty and unsafe locations to survey from the ground, such as busy roadways and limited access to residential properties. Additionally, the aerial mapping captured a level of detail similar to traditional topographic surveying—such as identifying roadway striping, centerlines, fences, and trees—but with significant savings in cost and time for the City.


Our construction management team worked closely with our engineering staff to develop an implementation and staging plan for the water system improvements. This involved evaluating existing valve locations and installing insert-a-valves at critical locations to minimize service disruptions during construction. The plan was incorporated in the project special provisions to give the contractor a basis for bid. Our team provided full-time construction inspection during the water system work, including three insertion valves and three hot-taps and the pressure reducing valve (PRV) vault assembly. The water system improvements were successfully implemented in January 2021.