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TriMet: Bikes will be detoured off Esplanade during light rail work – Updated

Posted by on January 27th, 2011 at 11:05 am

This just in from TriMet: Starting February 2nd, bicycle traffic will face a detour at the south end of the Eastbank Esplande for “preconstruction work” on the forthcoming Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail bridge over the Willamette River.

The detour is between SE Clay and Caruthers and is scheduled to be in place through February 11th. Here’s a map of the proposed detour route provided by TriMet:

Full detour map here (PDF) –

People riding bicycles will be routed east at SE Clay just south of the Hawthorne Bridge and onto SE Water. If riding from the south, you’ll be directed onto Water to go north and back onto the Esplanade at SE Clay. People using the Esplanade on foot will not be impacted by this detour.

UPDATE: In a follow-up email, TriMet’s Mary Fetsch has clarified a few things. The detour will be in place 24 hours because of equipment on the path, and the reason why walking access is maintained while bicycling is not is because part of the detour (on the Esplanade) will traverse onto a private sidewalk and the owners (Portland Opera) didn’t want anyone on a bike to use the sidewalk due to liability concerns.

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  • cyclist January 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Water’s not a very heavily used street, I use this route when I want to do something different, it can actually be faster to go this way when there’s something going on at OMSI.

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    • WoodstockCyclist January 27, 2011 at 11:20 am

      Agreed. The Esplanade is more scenic but when commuting I tend to use Water when going north/south through here. There’s limited parking on both sides, although the Water Ave detour by OMSI is narrow with no bike lanes (speed limit 20mph, though).

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    • A.K. January 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      Yeah, during hours when OMSI is open the waterfront path is just too chaotic to bike through at a decent speed and still be safe. It’s far faster and easier to use the street to bypass OMSI, and it is mostly car free whenever I go that way.

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      • Paul Johnson January 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm

        This is unfortunate, it would be nice if OMSI and the city did a better job letting pedestrians know path etiquette and that it’s a major commuter thoroughfare.

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  • spare_wheel January 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    this article does not make clear why cyclists are detoured while pedestrians are allowed access.

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    • Paul Johnson January 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      If you read the article, you would have discovered that the Portland Opera doesn’t want bicycles on it’s (privately owned) sidewalks on it’s property for insurance reasons. Read: Portland Opera is old and needed an excuse to scream “GET OFF MY LAWN!”

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  • BURR January 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    how far north will they be working? all the way to SE Clay? Really?

    There are other connections that don’t require you to go all the way to SE Clay both north and south of the OMSI building if the only place they are working is at the south end of the proposed detour by the Opera building.

    Also, is this 24/7 or just during work hours?

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    • cyclist January 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      There’s about 500 feet between the north end of the OMSI building and Clay, I fail to see how that makes a significant difference, especially because Clay will be faster (much fewer people and a wider path). I can’t understand what there is to get worked up about. Almost everybody taking this detour will be going from somewere north of Clay to either SE Portland via Division or Moreland/Sellwood/points beyond via the Springwater trail. The detour doesn’t take you out of the way other than maybe an extra 150 feet. What’s wrong with that?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    BURR and Spare_wheel,

    I have just posted an update….

    UPDATE: In a follow-up email, TriMet’s Mary Fetsch has clarified a few things. The detour will be in place 24 hours because of equipment on the path, and the reason why walking access is maintained while bicycling is not is because part of the detour (on the Esplanade) will traverse onto a private sidewalk and the owners (Portland Opera) didn’t want anyone on a bike to use the sidewalk due to liability concerns.

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  • matthew vilhauer January 27, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    this is a familiar route with bike commuters who link the esplanade to the oaks bottom/sellwood area. often it is safer and faster than going past OMSI along the esplanade. restricted lines of sight, traffic choke points and relative speed of mode users can make things dicey for everyone. definately one of those areas where sport riders and regular commuters who tend to ride fairly fast should really slow down or consider the clay/water option. oh… and use a bell to let the peds know you’re behind them and are passing…. just saying.

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  • Carter January 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    So presumably one could ride up to the edge of the Opera property, walk the bike through it, and mount up again on the other side.

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    • Spiffy January 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      exactly!

      it’s weird because the sidewalk that’s going to be part of the detour is already open to the public since it connects Caruthers and the waterfront trail so people can already walk or ride through there without any barriers…

      but I can see their concern because it’s actually a breezeway and not an open sidewalk… it has poles holding up the roof and a couple sharp angles…

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  • kj January 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    If anyone does chose to avoid the detour by cutting thorough around OMSI, please know there are a lot of peds, mostly kids, in the area. Please walk or ride slowly.

    The better option is to take the detour, which really isn’t that bad, I’s my commute route. Biggest complaint for me is debris in the bike lanes.

    Also when school groups arrive/leave by bus, the turnout in front of OMSI can be busy, usually between 9:30 and 11:30 and again around 1-3 when they leave.

    Between Clay and Water, the through ways are OMSI parking lots or walkways and the Eastside office building lot and walkway by Coopers Coffee.

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  • John Fall January 28, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Thanks, kj, for noting the benefits of the detour. In addition to part of the pedestrian route being on Portland Opera private property, cyclists are also being detoured because steel plates will be placed on the path as part of the work. Also, heavy equipment and trucks will be traversing the path in the closed off section of the Esplanade. It simply will not be an efficient, hazard free path for cyclists for those 10 days.

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  • h January 30, 2011 at 9:18 am

    thank for the head-up.

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  • Paul Johnson January 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Added to OpenStreetMap.

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