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Morrison Bridge improvements taking shape

Posted by on July 7th, 2009 at 9:25 am

A look at the new lane for bike and foot traffic on the Morrison Bridge.

Multnomah County is about three and a half months into their project to improve the facilities for non-motorized traffic on the Morrison Bridge.

The $1.9 million will give people who bike and walk a 15-foot, dedicated path on the south side of the bridge. The path — which will carry bi-directional bike and foot traffic — will be separated from motorized traffic by a “crash-worthy” barrier.

The County issued an update on the project last week. According to officials, 75% of the new concrete sidewalks had been poured and most of the barrier had been completed.

On the east side of the bridge, crews have laid out a new ramp (separated from the I-5 freeway offramp). According to the County:

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“The new offramp and path will improve safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles, which will no longer face an awkward merge with traffic exiting the freeway.”

And here’s a photo of the new ramp (looking northwest from SE Water Ave.):

(Photo: Multnomah County)

The County hopes these improvements will alleviate bike and foot traffic congestion on the Hawthorne Bridge and they say we can expect completion of the project by the end of the year.

Learn more about this project on the County’s website or by browsing our previous coverage.

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  • Meghan H July 7, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I work just at the base of the Morrison Bridge, and I cannot wait to see this project finished. But it won’t be completed until the end of the year? It must be a more complex project than it appears.

    It will be interesting to see how many people use this bridge compared to the traffic on the Hawthorne — it certainly has more of a slope on the west side, so it may not be a terribly attractive option to new or occasional bicyclists.

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  • mmann July 7, 2009 at 10:12 am

    What I appreciate is the learning curve the planners and DOT are exhibiting. This will obviously be an even better bike/pedestrian crossing than the ones on the Hawthorne, Steel, or Broadway bridges. Good work.

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  • Jessica Roberts July 7, 2009 at 10:16 am

    It’ll be attractive to me, as my work is right by it on the east side! I also used to live 1 block off Morrison on the east side and work on Morrison on the west side, and it frustrated me to have to go out of direction every single day.

    But point taken – this particular facility may not see the extreme increase in bicycling users that the lower deck of the Steel and the Hawthorne did when they were completed, because of grades, on-street connections (especially on the east side), and fast vehicle traffic.

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  • John Lascurettes July 7, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I sure hope those freeloading pedestrians get taxed for their share of these new facilities. Oh wait, they have.

    Snark off: this is fantastic to see take shape.

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  • Matt Picio July 7, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Meghan (#1) – that’s just the county being conservative. It’ll likely be done before the end of October, because that’s the deadline the county gave the contractor. Construction halted during Rose Festival, and should have resumed by now. The County bike/ped committee should be getting an update on progress at our next meeting tomorrow evening.

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  • Steph Routh July 7, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Quite excited. Morrison Bridge Grand Opening Parade, anyone?

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  • Grimm July 7, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Im glad to see more bridge options, and ones that seem like they should be safer. As the Hawthorne always feels a bit unsafe. Especially since crossing the Morrison as a ped is such a cluster dealing with the steps under the bridge and bum trash.

    I am curious if there will be bike access on the east side via Morrison Ave. It seems ideal to able to bomb down the hill, cross Grand at the light and start going over the bridge. Rather than go down and try to not get hit on MLK near River City, then ride by the homeless camped out under the bridge. But there is that merging lane on the left (south), and traffic seems to really thinks it is good to gun it to get to the I5 N. bound on ramp. I would hate to be tasked with merging left across that with any frequency.

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  • Steve Bozz July 7, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    This is great, are there any plans to deal with the connection on the west side of the bridge? I don’t remember there being much in terms of biking facilities (i.e. bike lane or sharrows) that welcome cyclists off the bridge once you arrive on the west side.

    With such an impressive bike/ped infrastructure on the bridge, I hope they can make the downtown side more accessible to riders who don’t like challenging traffic/taking the lane.

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  • E July 7, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    @ Steph, I’m in! :D

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  • RyNO Dan July 7, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Does it make sense that this trail is exiting on Water Ave on the east side ?
    My experience is that is not a good place, and crossing 99E (twice) is difficult and dangerous, if you need to get to/from the southeast.
    Why does the trail not follow Belmont past MLK/Grand ?
    Happy etc.

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  • cyclist July 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    RyNo Dan:

    There’s a freeway offramp that drains traffic from westbound I84 and southbound I-5 that deposits a significant amount of traffic onto the eastern end of the Morrison bridge, in addition, there are a number of folks who at that very same spot are trying to get over into the right lane so they can get onto southbound 99e. There’s really no good place to put bicycle traffic on that portion of the bridge, it would be an unsafe mess.

    Prior to the bridge’s sidewalks going under construction I rode across it once a week, the crossing at 99e isn’t bad (even during rush hour) though if it feels unsafe you can go a couple blocks in either direction and get a stoplight.

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  • Unit July 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    The trail doesn’t continue east past Water Ave, because there’s no apparent way to do so, without permanently closing the I-5 ramps (or forcing cyclists to make numerous dangerous ramp crossings).

    Both ends connect to bike lanes (Naito and Water), which at least gets us onto the network. An improved Salmon St bikeway on the east side (including signals across 99-E) might be the best eastside connection.

    If there are ideas for how to make other connections in the future, let’s see ‘em!

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  • Jean M July 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Steve Routh @6:

    How about the Morrison Bridge Grand Opening Ride? Aren’t we Portlanders supposed to stage bike rides to celebrate momentous occasions? :-)

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  • Hart July 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    “Aren’t we Portlanders supposed to stage bike rides to celebrate momentous occasions? :-)”

    That and dead pedophiles.

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  • Scott Mizée July 7, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    can’t wait!

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  • Matt Picio July 7, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    You can also cross MLK 2 blocks south with the light at Taylor. Much less dicey. Or a few blocks north at Stark.

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  • ben foote July 7, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Turns out you can see the project in real time via the TripCheck cam on the bridge!

    http://tripcheck.com/popups/Cam.asp?camera=589&curRegion=16

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  • Steph Routh July 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Jean M @13:

    This is very true (ahh, BikeSnobNYC, we owe you so much!), but then it would be over far too quickly for my tastes.

    And besides, I’m with the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition. :-)

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  • BURR July 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    They routed the eastbound Hawthorne viaduct bike lane past a Hwy 99 off-ramp, no reason they couldn’t have done the same on the Morrison viaduct.

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  • Will Radik July 10, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Cool! Can’t wait to see what it looks like when done.

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