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Expect more enforcement near viaduct construction zone

Posted by on February 27th, 2007 at 12:25 pm

If you ride on the Esplanade and the Springwater Corridor south of OMSI you know that there’s a ton of construction going.

In addition to the Big Pipe Project, ODOT is currently working on a $64 million project to replace the MLK/Grand Viaduct.

In the next few weeks, ODOT will establish an official construction zone around their project. In light of that designation, I just got an email from the Lieutenant of the Police Bureau Traffic Division about enhanced enforcement of stop sign and other violations in that area.

Here it is [emphasis mine]:

Starting around March 12th, we will begin enforcing the construction zone that is about to be established around the replacement of the MLK viaduct. This construction zone will extend to about a five block radius around the project and will include enforcement on Grand/MLK as well as the surface streets under the viaduct. (*see map below).

This will impact bicyclists as there is a high incidence of stop sign violations in the area around the viaduct involving bicyclists coming off of the spring water trail. Traffic Div officers will be citing all moving violations they encounter during this enforcement and I expect that will include bicyclists as well.

There is currently a high volume of construction traffic in this area…traffic volume will increase once work on the viaduct is fully underway.

Our officers will be patrolling the area extensively during this construction project as we want to encourage compliance with all traffic law in order to help ensure a safe work area.

Bicyclists need to be aware of this increased traffic and the enforcement that will be conducted. Safety in a construction zone is the responsibility of all road users and we will be putting in a strong police presence to encourage traffic law compliance.

*Here’s a map of the project area and approximate enforcement zone.

[This is not an official graphic.]

Please take this warning to heart when riding in that area.

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Comments
  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 27, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Even though we routed you across railroad tracks at less than a 90 degree angle and even though we leave jarring holes in the road from all our cuts and even though we force you to ride across extremely slippery steel plates and even though we didn’t even bother to place signs explaining where the detour goes, we’re going to issue expensive fines to cyclists who fail to come to a full and complete stop at deserted intersections in order to “help ensure a safe work area.”

    Thanks a lot Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division! Your priorities are crystal clear.

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  • Burr February 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    ^^^What he said…

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  • Jonathan Maus February 27, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Agree with it or not, at least they’re telling us about their plans ahead of time.

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  • Cecil February 27, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Maybe they will use the money from the fines to repair the great big holes.

    I hope this means that they will also be ticketing the car drivers who routinely blow those same stop signs.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 27, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Jonathan, I appreciate your willingness to look at the positive here — and certainly that is one. But cyclists are being treated as second-class citizens by the Traffic Division on this operation — they have created hazardous riding conditions without any warning — and that demands we advocates speak up. I plan on writing them a letter. I also asked you to do a story on it, but … I suppose you chose otherwise in your editorial discretion.

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  • Jonathan Maus February 27, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I hear your pain A_O and I’d like to know more about the situation.

    Perhaps we could meet down there sometime.

    Claiming second-class citizenship and saying “they’ve created hazardous riding conditions” are serious accusations that deserve looking into.

    I have not ruled out a story on this, I simply have not gotten to it yet.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 27, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I’ll be going through there about 6:20 this evening.

    And I go through there about 6:20 each morning.

    Flag me down. I’m your garden-variety white guy in a yellow jersey and usually shorts, on a burnt orange Trek Portland.

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  • Lynne February 27, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    “even though we force you to ride across extremely slippery steel plates ”

    In Seattle, it is the reulation that those plates must have a nonskid coating. Once that little regulation was discovered, a lot of cyclists made a lot of phone calls about a lot of slippery steel plates. Those of you that are affected may want do to a similar investigation for Portland.

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  • Donald February 27, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Jonathan,

    You should take it as a sign of your wide reach and perceived influence that you were considered a reliable courier for this message from the PPB. Kudos. And thanks for bringing it to our attention. I’ll send this to my brother, one of those Oregonian folks who uses that route daily to ride to work.

    That said, if I had one wish to use on our local constabulary, I’d make sure none of our fine officers ever used “impact” as a verb again.

    _DA

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  • P Fin February 27, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    “…there is a high incidence of stop sign violations in the area around the viaduct involving bicyclists coming off of the spring water trail.”

    Why, in god’s name, do we not have the right-of-way to begin with through this zone? Drivers looking to hook up the Division shortcut are more important? The auto arterial through this zone should be broken up with at least a couple stop signs (share a 4 way with Springwater mergers?).

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 27, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Who wants a legal research assignment? Don’t all speak up at once. Go to:

    http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/number_index.html

    and see if ODOT has a regulation on-point with Lynne’s suggestion in #8.

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  • Ethan February 27, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Jonathan,

    The potential blowback from developing “positive” contacts and relationships with city officials is that you can begin to shy away from saying anything that might piss those same people off, often to the detriment of your stated mission. I see it here increasingly as time goes by, and there are certainly times when repeated “glass is half full” comments come across as enabling and giving silent consent to negative events and actions.

    It happened to the BTA, it can happen to you.

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  • Jonathan Maus February 27, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Ethan,

    Thanks for bringing this up.

    I can assure you that I am not simply worried about “pissing off” the cops.

    We all have different roles in this bicycle community ecosystem and at this time, I feel I am most effective by being fair and extremely careful with how I present Police Bureau information and policies on this site.

    I simply try and offer their perspective when I feel it is not understood because I know they themselves will not enter comments on this site.

    I also know that many cyclists have misconceptions about the Police.

    I understand the point of your comment, but I can assure you I will not hesitate to call out the PPB when/if they deserve it…

    But you must understand that I need to maintain a high threshold and burden of proof before doing so.

    I have too much to lose by being negative about the cops at every opportunity like so many activists and advocates have done before me.

    Thanks for your comment and please let me know if you have further concerns.

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  • Lenny Anderson February 27, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Its a terrible misallocation of precious resources to do stop sign enforcement against bicyclists.
    Motor vehicles can kill when they run a stop sign or commit some violation; bikes are at worst a nuisance (with very few exceptions).
    We need to get the Mayor to call off the cops and put them to work protecting life and property, not harassing bicyclists. Winter weather offers enough challenges. Bike friendly town, my eye.

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  • DK February 27, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Since this is going to be an ongoing traffic nightmare for quite some time, couldn’t it be treated like many other big projects around town…with flaggers?!! This would free up our police resources to do something a bit more involved in our communities, and set the tone for the coming months of what type of delays to expect. Bike riders should be welcomed in these areas, not threatened with tickets. Any history on a bike rider seriously injuring a worker in a construction zone? I would bet not. What better way to keep things flowing and workers safe. Let us ride, we’ll be good.

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  • Bjorn February 27, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    I have asked Sheila Lyons from ODOT about the oregon regulations on slippery steel plates. She is looking into it and I will post her findings here when I hear back from her.

    Bjorn

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  • Andre February 27, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Perhaps they are envisioning that increased dump truck/backhoe/large machinery traffic might require a little more caution on cyclists part and as such should so something about making people ride more safely? We all know people don’t respond very well to “you should really do this for your own safety” style requests because otherwise I wouldn’t see anyone riding without lights, but we all know it SUCKS to pay a big fine and as such are much more likely to ride cautiously/come to a full stop (not that these things are equal) in this zone.

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  • JayS, February 27, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Funny to me that everyone is jumping to the conclusion that bikers are the target when ppb says,”Traffic Div officers will be citing all moving violations they encounter during this enforcement and I expect that will include bicyclists as well.” I have no problem with that statement. Construction and and industrial vehicles in that area are always violating traffic laws putting bikers and other road users at risk if enforcement is equal for all I have no problems. Will I still risk stop as yield? Probably, but with extra caution and as always, knowing that if an officer is there they may ticket me.

    Do the track crossings worry me? yes The steel plates? yes The pot holes? yes The other vehicles on the road? well of course i’m always cautious. The traffic cops? no more than usual

    I think it is great that someone in the bike community is in a position to work with city and government officals and bikers as a communication hub and much more. Thanks Jonathan for being one of many level headed openminded leaders in this growing community.

    JayS.

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  • Matt P. February 27, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    I’m glad PPB will be enforcing the law – there’s a lot of cars and trucks that blow through the stop signs in that area all the time, and also fail to yield right-of-way to bikes and other traffic on Caruthers (which has no stop sign) from the bypass road.

    A_O is right on about the hazardous riding conditions – muddy streets, crossing the rails at less than 90 degrees, steel plates, bad signage, and worst of all, the Ross Island plant has no stop sign for trucks exiting their ready-mix plant, which means a private driveway has right-of-way across the thru-street multi-use path. That’s kind of screwed up.

    This highlights EXACTLY why we need the rest of the Willamette Greenway path, and why it was so important to block the SK Northwest deal without the easement for the trail. Ditto for the Portland Spirit property.

    There are a lot of commuters who ride through this stretch, and I don’t think any of the entities involved in construction in this area really considered how it was going to impact cyclists and pedestrians. It’s gotten much worse since they tore up SE 4th for repaving, or whatever the heck they’re doing there.

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  • JeffH February 27, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    but but but… I have to run the stop signs to get away from the awful smell of the Purina dog food factory!

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  • Bill February 27, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Matt P.,
    Traffic entering from the Ross Island yard have to yield to traffic on the roadway.

    ” 811.280 Failure of driver entering roadway to yield right of way; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of failure of a driver entering a roadway to yield the right of way if the person:

    (a) Is operating a vehicle that is about to enter or cross a roadway from any private road, driveway, alley or place other than another roadway; and

    (b) Does not yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard.

    (2) This section does not apply where the movement of traffic is otherwise directed by a traffic control device or a driver of a funeral escort vehicle.

    (3) The offense described in this section, failure of driver entering roadway to yield right of way, is a Class B traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §612; 1991 c.482 §14; 1995 c.383 §54]“

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 27, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Bill, now the only question is whether the drivers for Ross Island Co are aware of ORS 811.280(1) and its applicability to the site. What do you think?

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  • Bill February 27, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    A_O
    I can’t speak for anyone but myself but I knew of this rule because it was repeated as a question in several parts of the Commercial Drivers License test. All of the Ross Island drivers took the same test.
    I think that the enhanced enforcement patrols will be taking a look at all traffic in the work zone… especially so if the PPB receives reports of trucks not obeying ORS 811.280(1) at a particular location.
    I can tell you that, in the run-up to this reconstruction project, the weight limit on the viaduct was reduced to 20,000 lbs and an enhanced enforcement session was commenced, with officers from PPB, OSP and ODOT (weigh master). There was an immediate reduction of overweight vehicles on the span. I think the current effort will be an effective way to make the best of a bad, but temporary, situation.

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  • brad February 27, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    What about the Apple Foods trucks that are consistently parked in the bike lane? Can we expect them to be ticketed as well?

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  • PoPo February 27, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Just a different perspective. I know that when they were working on Johnson Tideman Park on the Springwater Corridor over the past year they completely closed the bike path because they had large trucks moving dirt and rocks that had to cross the path at an incline, which made it extremely difficult if not impossible for them to stop quickly when coming down it. Obviously, this was a dangerous situation for anyone attempting to use the path, so they closed it. And in spite of large signs and double sets of chain-link fencing on both ends of the construction site, they still had determined bikers and walkers somehow make their way around, over, or meld through the barriers like that liquid metal dude from The Terminator, to access the path. The managers and workers at the site didn’t have anything against bikers, they just did’t want to kill anybody.

    That Viaduct project is going to be huge, probably with lots of trucks and jackhammers and whatever other machinery they will have to use to take down the old concrete structure. There will probably be a lot more traffic in the area than we are used to. The police often enhance traffic inforcement at the beginning of such major projects to encourage people to follow the rules for sure in the face of possibly different, and more dangerous traffic patterns. Part of a thoughtful enforcement process is to attempt to educate people ahead of time. Then, ideally, they don’t have to issue any tickets. And this certainly seems a good venue to communicate with bicycle community.

    I’m also pretty sure the Police don’t have anything to do with deciding detour routes, signage or placement of steel plates in the ground related to construction sites. I wonder if it’s the Department of Transportation? Anyway, if a letter is merited, I would recommend a little research to be sure that it reaches the appropriate eyes so that time and efforts in writing the letter aren’t wasted.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 27, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    “[W]hen they were working on … the Springwater Corridor over the past year they completely closed the bike path because …. this was a dangerous situation …. And … determined bikers and walkers somehow [still made] their way around … the barriers … to access the path. The managers and workers at the site didn’t have anything against bikers…”

    What were they supposed to do? There was no alternative way for them to go, yet they still needed to get where they were going. What do you think people would do if you shut down I-5 through downtown Portland. Find a way around, right? Well, the Springwater is basically the equivalent of I-5 for bikes. Yet there is little or no planning for major disruptions to the bike infrastructure. That epitomizes our treatment as second-class citizens.

    “What about the Apple Foods trucks that are consistently parked in the bike lane? Can we expect them to be ticketed as well?”

    Another great example. These people block the bike lane all day and all evening — well, OK, from 6-7am and 6-7pm each weekday when I ride through. I have been making this ride for about 6 months now. It’s pretty obvious they’ve never been ticketed, yet I routinely see unmarked police cars parked nearby at the cul de sac next to the Opera.

    We’re told we can expect citations in this area to promote safety even though it is obvious the City’s actions show little, if any, concern for cyclist safety in this area. It’s behavior like this that seriously strains the credibility of statements made by the City and weakens public confidence in the impartiality and efficacy of government.

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  • DK February 28, 2007 at 7:00 am

    I hope this new viaduct project will halt the bottleneck of wrongway riders during the bridge peddle. That route took away our chance to ride the Sellwood without worrying about getting splattered.

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  • 2ndaveflyer February 28, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Thanks for the information about the construction. I haven’t ridden through that location recently so I don’t know how critical the safety issues are with the steel plates. Can they be avoided? Having worked on ODOT projects before my guess is the best way to handle safety concerns would be to ask a site worker who the foreman is. If you are nice and show the foreman what your concerns are there is a good chance on-site corrections will be made. If you are an arrogant pain in the ass you will likely be ignored; even if your concerns are valid.

    If your safety concerns are critical and you can’t resolve them at the site you can contact the ODOT District Manager. I suckered for A.O.’s challenge and found that that Division 55 of the Department of Transportation rules apply to the installation of buried pipe on properties subject to ODOT jurisdiction. OAR734-055-0025 (8) says that the District Manager (or their designated representative) may “require applicant to provide, at applicants expense, any additional safeguards and/or facilities required to protect the safety, convenience, and rights of the travelling public…” This wording allows the contractor to decide what will work best; non-skid, detour, rubber mat, escort, etc.

    If all this stuff gets to the point where your medication isn’t helping, I suggest buying a nice electric car. Until then I’ll see you sniffing the dog food on the trail.

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  • Dabby February 28, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Ross Island is run my Mr. Pamphlin, i believe his name is. The same fool who runs the Portland Tribune, and who enviornmentally is screwing us all.
    If he doesn’t care enough about our city to properly protect the river by doing the right thing (ie; cleaning up Ross island like he agreed to before giving it back to the city), what makes you think he is going to have his trucks yield to cyclists?
    This area is a mess, and not only due to construction.
    The horrors that we can’t see lie just off the path, cleverly hidden from sight….
    Not only should the city and the PPB be running a ticketing sting on the Ross Island trucks, but the EPA should be running one on Ross Island as a whole…
    Stop the horror created by Vera Katz’s handshake….

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  • Doug February 28, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    2ndaveflyer:

    I ride this route every day, the steel plates aren’t a big deal, or at least I’ve yet to feel uncomfortable on them.

    The enforcement action is a plus in my book, I’ve had a couple of uncomfortable close calls with cars ignoring the stop signs down there, as well as 1 with a cyclist who did the same. From the email it looks like the police aren’t specifically targeting cyclists, rather they’re targeting people who run stop signs, no matter what their form of transportation.

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  • Wyatt February 28, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Just an observation -

    I sat and watched for an hour yesterday as cars and bikes blew the stop sign under the bridge turning right (south). One bike stopped. That’s it.

    For the record: I don’t stop at that one either.

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  • naess February 28, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Attornatus_Oregonensis:

    actually ther’s a perfectly good bike lane going down johnson creek that bypassed the closed section of the springwater. yes, you had to cross over the tacoma bridge to get to it, but guess what! we’ve had to do that for years already, up until they finished the three bridges project.

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  • Aaron February 28, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    I travel this route every day as well. I have very little trouble with the potholes, plates, etc (once you’ve ridden a few times, you know where they are). I find it more comfortable than dealing with Hawthorne/Madison traffic. Most people don’t stop for signs, but I feel that everything flows despite that (like the signless streets).
    What bothers me more is the unexpected closures of the trail behind OMSI. Like A O said, it reaks of innequality when road closures are announced well ahead of time, but bike path closures have no warning. I’m taking the temporary road for now until I can be sure that the path wont be closed indiscriminantly.

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  • tom hardhat March 1, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    There’s so much going on in the area of the viaduct, it’s hard to keep track of all of the moving things. I think traffic rule enforcement will make it safer so at least most of the traffic will be predictable.

    If you have a problem with Ross Island S&G, you should call and them (politely) what the problems are. I know management is concerned, some of them ride the trail and understand the bike perspective. Tom

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  • Taylor trout November 11, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    I rcvd a ticket $242.00 ticket on springwater trail near powell loop at linneman station. it was 811.265 disobeying a traffic control device By a Gresham Policeman .There are no signs there and I was south of trail on private property near piazzano club. Has anyone had this happen to them and what was outcome? I took pics and pleaded not guiilty court date on Monday nov 17 2008
    thanks!
    taylor

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