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Morrison Bridge dedication event set for next week

Posted by on March 26th, 2010 at 10:17 am

Morrison Bridge back in September.
(Photo: Elly Blue)

Multnomah County has announced details of a dedication ceremony to celebrate the long-awaited opening of improvements to the Morrison Bridge.

The event is set for next Tuesday (3/30) at 12:30 pm. Slated to speak are County Commissioners Jeff Cogen and Deboroah Kafoury, ODOT spokesperson Shelli Romero, and Mayor Adams’ transportation policy director Catherine Ciarlo. The festivities will start at the bridge’s west entrance (SW Naito and Morrison) and attendees will be led across the bridge by the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers.

Plans to improve the non-motorized path on the Morrison Bridge took shape over 12 years ago. The new facility will handle two-way biking and walking traffic on the south side of the bridge via a 15-foot wide path that is physically separated from motorized traffic.

Some people are so excited for the opening of the bikeway that they couldn’t wait until Tuesday. Volunteers with Shift were on the bridge this morning handing out free coffee and pastries to the early adopters who are already riding over it.

For more on the new path, check out our Morrison Bridge Project tag and visit the official project website.

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  • Nick V March 26, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Shame shame shame to any of you who have already ridden it. You’re probably the same people who cut in line at porta-pottys. Harumph!

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  • Tonya March 26, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Next Tuesday is 3/30. Thanks!

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  • Cap'n Pastry March 26, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Yes! Another bridge to breakfast on! See gorgeous views of the City, bring your binoculars to spy on the other BonB locations (Steel & Hawthorne), stick around til 9 and watch the amazing lift mechanism with automated crash-barrier swing-out!

    Special thanks to awesome Inaugural BoMB* Volunteers: Scott (the early one) Mizee, Esther (the sweet one) Harlow, Steph (the coffee whisperer) Routh, and our newest volunteer Chelsea. Special kudos to Emily (mmmm-muffins)Wilson.
    [*Breakfast on Morrison Bridge]

    We had like 7 people stop today – just like the old days in 2003!

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  • cyclist March 26, 2010 at 10:49 am

    It’s a nice alternative to the Hawthorne, especially for folks who are this far north. The only downside is that if you take the corkscrew ramp down to the Esplanade, there’s limited visibility at the very end of the ramp… I’d advise that you keep your eyes open for other folks on bikes and slow WAY down before you merge onto the Esplanade from the ramp.

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  • Scott Mizée March 26, 2010 at 10:58 am

    woot woot!

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  • tony March 26, 2010 at 11:12 am

    so, i thought this opened weeks ago… communication on this has been poor.

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  • Spiffy March 26, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    tony, yes, it supposedly opened on the 12th, and this is going to be the dedication ceremony on the 30th so the city officials can get some good PR moments…

    (awaiting forum activation)

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  • Stripes March 26, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I rode it this morning. It’s SO wonderful! Thankyou Morrison Bridge!

    ps -My only concern was that **getting** to Water Avenue by bike, where the bridge bike/ped path starts, was really tricky for me. How do people do it? What’s the best route? I found myself going around in circles UNDER the Morrison Bridge, trying to find a safe place to cross MLK & Grand. Also, the signage as you come off the bikepath is weird. I think I was supposed to go left, and follow the curvy off-ramp. But since there was no sign telling me to do this, I carried on straight, and got dumped out on a one-way street, going the wrong way. Perhaps some temporary signage, til people get the hang of which way to ride? Other than that, fantastic!

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  • Stripes March 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    ps – sorry, I should clarify: signage at the downtown west end of the bridge was unclear as you are coming off the bridge by bike. It tells you what not to do, but not what to do!

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  • Neil March 26, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    @Stripes – With all the streetcar construction on MLK and Grand, it’s really a mess. Usually Stark is the easiest way to connect to Water though.

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  • The Biking Viking March 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Stripes,
    Depends on which direction you’re coming from. Use Taylor if you’re coming from the south, Stark from the north.

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  • Ted Buehler March 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Using the Morrison Bridge to its fullest advantage will have a learning curve. I think it will best favor:

    * Downtown to central East Portland trips.
    - Easy connections from Morrison Bridge east to Taylor (to cross MLK and Grand at lights) then Salmon bike blvd.
    - and north on Water St to Stark, then up 7th to Ankeny eastbound. Much nicer than doing the Grand Squiggle off the Burnside Bridge.

    * Central East Portland to downtown
    - same route advantage — cross Grand/MLK at Stark or Taylor, then west to Water St and over the bridge.
    - less of an advantage on the downtown side, since it loops you back to Naito Pkwy. Not a deal-breaker, but given the hump in the Morrison bridge and the extra distance, you’re no better off than taking Hawthorne or the lower deck of the Steel.

    * Bridge lifts — the Hawthorne Bridge goes up for many pleasure boats and barges, the Morrison rarely goes up. If you’re doing the SE-downtown thing and need to be there on time, take the Morrison.

    * Timid riders — Morrison is better than Burnside (5 lane expressway for cars) or Hawthorne (crazy bike traffic, and a guaranteed ambulance ride if you get knocked off the sidewalk). It has a concrete barrier so you can’t get knocked onto the driving surface, and it will probably have lighter rush hour traffic than Hawthorne.

    So, I think it will provide a slick connection for the evening rush hour, and take a bit of pressure off the Hawthorne Bridge. But only if the city signs the connections between the bridge and the Salmon and Ankeny Bike Blvds. No signs, no bikes. The east end is hidden in a maze of industrial streets way off the beaten path.

    The morning rush hour won’t get the same benefit, because of the out-of-direction travel needed for the Morrison Bridge that you don’t get with Hawthorne or Burnside.

    Nice work, Multnomah County, adding a pretty good bike path in a challenging location.

    Ted Buehler

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  • matt picio March 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    tony (#6) – communication on this has been quite grand on the Shift list. If you’re not a member, why not join?
    https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/shift

    Stripes (#8) – Taylor has lights at MLK and Grand, and is low-traffic compared to Stark.

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  • Jerry March 26, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I’ve ridden it going eastbound a few times, and it’s easy to get on/off. Going westbound is more confusing to me. Are you supposed to loop around and just end up on the sidewalk at Naito? (Isn’t it illegal to ride on the sidewalk downtown?) Also, the connection at Water doesn’t look very intuitive, but I haven’t seen it while approaching yet.

    I do feel more comfortable on this path than the Hawthorne crossing; it feels more removed from traffic. Hopefully it won’t have as many strollers, zig-zaggy kids, and dogs on long leashes to stress out about during the summer.

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  • carless in pdx March 26, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Really? I rode across the bridge last Sunday. It is awesome! You guys will LOVE it. :D

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  • Red Five March 26, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Oh yippee another improvement for downtown.

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  • Zaphod March 26, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I made some incorrect assumptions that the path was next to one of the main car arterials and spent a solid 15 minutes trying to work out where to get on from the E side. Via iPhone hitting this site to ascertain it’s on the South side of the bridge and then using satellite maps to guess where it logically would fit, I then sorted out the Water St entrance. Without knowing this, people will never find it. Insane that I needed to call upon so much technology to resolve. Surely my nav skills could use refinement, but still.

    If I didn’t have a date serving coffee on that bridge, I would have bailed and hit the Hawthorne.

    Given my troubles, I assumed that ridership would be low on the Morrison so I ended up on the Hawthorne anyway thus allowing me to serve up more stovetop espressos for our fine dedicated bike commuters.

    Could use some signage in the logical places so others don’t experience the same frustration.

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  • Adam March 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I rode it today, after reading people’s thoughts and feedback on here. My thoughts –

    1) Wow, great bikepath! Love the width. Love the crash barrier. Good design on the bridge, for sure. Great job! I’m so stoked this is finally open!

    2) Must agree with other commenters regarding confusion joining/ exiting the bridge at either end. It was exceptionally hard to find the Water Ave on-ramp (although this is hardly the fault of Multnomah County, who are not responsible for Portland’s bike blvd network, just the bridge…) I had to laugh, as I did exactly what a commenter above did – got out my iPhone to try and figure out where on earth to go! I think now that the bridge is open to bike traffic, the City of Portland could step up and add relevant area signage pointing bicyclists to it… Some people have suggested using Stark to get to Water Avenue. I found it FAR too scary with all of the car traffic and heavy truck traffic from the light industrial area that surrounds it there, and I’m a 33 year old male. I doubt a family with little kids would want to use that street to bike on at all.

    3) The thing that really threw though me was how to get off the bridge downtown. I did what another commenter did, and carried on biking straight after the little ped crosswalk. I got dumped out onto oncoming traffic on Alder, all of which was roaring at me at considerable speed! At that point, I realized I guess I was supposed to have taken a left before the on-ramp crosswalk, and gone down onto Naito. But there was NO signage telling me to do this. A big sign with an arrow pointing left and the words “bicyclists this way” would have done great!

    I think a few signage tweaks, and this bridge will be a-okay to go!! Thankyou for all who worked so hard to get this project completed.

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  • John Russell (jr98664) March 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I’ve just been taking the lane across until this opened without issue. I’ll miss the direct connection to MLK and Grand though. It’s really too bad that this can’t be connected to the rest of the viaducts like the Hawthorne. I think the reasons why the Broadway, Burnside, and Hawthorne Bridges do so well in terms of bike traffic is the seamless flow from surrounding streets. The Morrison Bridge just strikes me as too much of a compromise in order to not slow down automobile traffic. At least on the Steel Bridge, it’s not illegal to take the lane if it’s more convenient. No such luck on the Morrison.

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  • resopmok March 27, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I’ve ridden across either direction a couple times, and echo Stark or Taylor for the south approach and Alder for the west approach. I think the biggest problem is that none of these routes are designated as being for bikes.. Alder through downtown is sans sharrows, bike lanes or any markings until you actually reach the bridge, though traffic is generally manageable (though haven’t tried eastbound during rush hour..). I’ve found people driving Stark to be somewhat impatient, despite my going pretty quickly down the hill westbound. This is bi-directional two lane with parking and no bike markings until the lane starts when you’re already at Water ave. Also note here that the bridge still connects to the east-side esplanade via the twisty ramp.

    Coming into downtown, you probably need to stop at the crosswalk anyway, unless you are headed east on Naito. I found the long right to SW Morrison the most natural direction to head directly into the city, though it’s not a great street to ride on. Other option is to cross east via the crosswalk and hit the waterfront or northbound Naito.

    As for the facility itself, it seems to have enough room for everyone as long as people stay aware of their surroundings. The weirdest thing is probably descending the western side, as you stay to the right and watch traffic on the road section that looks like it’s coming straight at you. This definately encourages me to slow down there, as it really should I suppose.

    Overall, I think the facility is welcome and a good way to help ease congestion on the Hawthorne while providing an alternative for the (currently very messy) Burnside or (tediously narrow) esplanade connection on the Steel. The biggest problem is that you need to be a relatively experienced and unafraid vehicular cyclist in order to make it a smoothly integrated part of a route into or out of downtown, as all of the primary connections are sorely lacking bike facilities themselves.

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  • jim March 28, 2010 at 1:01 am

    I’ll bring my lawnchair

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  • spare_wheel March 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    “relatively experienced and unafraid vehicular cyclist”

    imo, this route is less stressful to the timid cyclist than hawthorne where trucks and buses weave in and out of bike lanes.

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  • Rex Burkholder March 29, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    The Morrison Bridge Project is the last of the seven bridge bicycle improvement effort started by the BTA 15 years ago. The first was widening the sidewalks on the Hawthorne Bridge (they were only 6 feet wide). The BTA pressured Multnomah County and Portland to make all the bridges safer for cycling, and now, at long last, they are. Kudos to all, but especially ex-County Chair, Bev Stein and Karen Frost, ex BTA Director.

    Good things come to those who ask for them and are patient ;)

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  • Steve B. March 30, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Right on! Let’s get the 8th bridge The Fremont bridge, on the city’s todo list. I am sure ODOT will be psyched.

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  • Scott Mizée March 30, 2010 at 8:29 am

    THIS IS TODAY! Lets hope for a big turn out. If you work downtown, come out over your lunch hour and celebrate!

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  • Meghan H March 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Water Avenue has terrible pavement, RR track remnants and lots of crap in the road. I would hope the City of Portland would do a better job of maintaining this pavement if many more cyclists are going to be using the Morrison Bridge sidewalk. The other major downside I found was the crossing of the I-5 offramp right at the base of the ramp. Traffic moves fast, and cars often choose not to stop before they pull onto or cross Water Ave. Cyclists will have to be very careful at the base of this ramp!

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