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SE Cesar Chavez Blvd closed for three weeks

Posted by on June 28th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Cesar Chavez is closed for the next 21 days.
(Photo: Joe Bike)

A City of Portland sewer project has led to the closure of SE Cesar Chavez Blvd (39th). The street is closed from Hawthorne to Division 24/7 beginning today through July 18th.

Cesar Chavez is a high-volume arterial for people who drive through the area and the City has signed detours that direct drivers to SE 30th and 50th avenues. However, we’re already getting reports that many people are driving on SE 41st and 34th, both of which are popular streets for bicycling. Sharon Martell shared with us via Twitter that people riding bikes should be especially careful on 41st and that “most cars are diverting there.” Teri Solow added that there are also a “bunch more cars on 34th”.

As for bicycle access on and across Cesar Chavez during this closure, the City has specifically kept the SE Lincoln neighborhood greenway open as a bicycle crossing. We have also heard from Joe Bike owner Joe Doebele, whose shop is located at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Lincoln. He said City crews are waving people on bikes through Cesar Chavez but that it’s essentially carfree. “Ride 39th not 41st,” is his advice.

The City’s website says, “In the construction area, people on bicycles are advised to cross Cesar Chavez at Lincoln.”

Linc Mann with the Bureau of Environmental Services told us that the contractor is allowing local access only on Cesar Chavez and that through traffic is being diverted off at Lincoln and Hawthorne. Also note that the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Harrison is closed to all traffic. Check out the map below for more info…

This is a major closure of a very busy street in an area with a high volume of bicycle users. Please let us know what you’re seeing out there and how the detours are working out. If you see major safety issues, do not hesitate to email safe@portlandoregon.gov or call the project hotline at (503) 823-2663. For more info, see the project website.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you β€” Jonathan

  • varner June 28, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    It’s worth noting that the city did a survey of residents in the area about options for street closure. They asked if folks would prefer a few months of closing Ceasar Chavez at night for a couple months, during the day for a couple months, or 24/7 for a few weeks. While this is inconvenient I think the city did a good job of giving options to those most closely affected, while also not closing the Lincoln street crossing.

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  • Spiffy June 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    looks like I’ll be taking the full lane if I happen to be on 41st or 34th during the closure… I’d rather ignore them behind me instead of being pinched and pushed off the road by impatient motorists…

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    • jeff June 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      then you better be doing close to the “normal speed”. Otherwise, get your butt to the right.

      814.430: Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty.

      (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not
      ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

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      • BURR June 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm


        For most of SE 41st, there is barely one lane available, unless they’ve removed parking, which is unlikely since it is not the designated detour.

        Also, maybe you should have read ORS 814.430 a bit further….

        (2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:
        (a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.
        (b) When preparing to execute a left turn.
        (c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 (Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle) or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

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      • Reza June 28, 2013 at 5:29 pm

        Yeah…right into the door zone or gutter.

        If you’re in a car you can barely get through 34th as-is since the street is so narrow, I can’t imagine how excruciatingly slow that street must be with the car traffic from the diversion.

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      • Paul in the 'couve June 28, 2013 at 5:39 pm

        Jeff, please check your attitude before you drive. My BUTT will be right in the center of the lane any time there is not room for cars to pass me safely in the lane.

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        • Paul in the 'couve June 28, 2013 at 9:30 pm

          I’ve now checked my attitude as well. Sorry for being extra sharp in my tone. I’lll still be in the center of the lane when required, but I ‘ll be smiling and happy not angry or looking for a fight. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 8)

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  • gutterbunnybikes June 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm


    Give it a few days for the cars to adjust to the detours and could Hawthorn itself on either side of 39th become bicycle heaven at least for a week or two?

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    • spare_wheel June 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      I had more close calls on Salmon than I care to remember before I switched to Hawthorne. I love riding on Hawthorne.

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  • Ryan June 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Anyone want to get together, 100+ of us, and ride up and down 34th a few times as a traffic calming measure? An hour or two of this and cars won’t be using the street in the future…

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  • Chris Sanderson June 29, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Coming back from a job yesterday, I went north down 41st around 5:15, and the traffic was ridiculous. Cars were backed up at that pedestrian light at Hawthorne, and flow was disjointed since there were a fair amount of vehicles traveling the opposite direction, trying to squeeze between cars parked on either side of the road. It was a mess.

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    • spare_wheel June 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      As far as I am concerned, the more gridlock the better! IMO, alternative transport mode share will only increase when we make motoring less convenient than walking, cycling, or public tranport.

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  • was carless June 29, 2013 at 9:02 am

    glad i can avoid the area for awhile!

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    • Yuri Nashun July 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      You are not missing much.

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  • Chainwhipped June 29, 2013 at 9:50 am

    I ride these streets regularly. If you ride north-south just east of Chavez, there are plenty of alternatives with little added time.

    As for riding north-south just west of Chavez, (between Bellmont and Division) I stopped using 34th some time ago and now use 35th. By bike, it’s actually easier and lower-traffic than 34th and stops are fewer and shorter.

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  • jimbobpdx June 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I love riding the N-S streets west of here. Maybe the divertees will pick up on how great it is to tool along at 12-15 mph and enjoy the ride . . .

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  • Pat Franz June 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I live on 43rd and Harrison and we’re definitely getting more traffic- probably 3X normal. And more fast traffic.

    When I was on 41st the other day, they had “No Through Traffic Local Traffic Only” signs staged at 41st and Hawthorne, apparently people blow right by them. 41st may be one of the first streets you come to off of Cesar Chavez, but besides being the bikeway, it is narrow and the traffic at New Seasons on Hawthorne is dysfunctional on a good day.

    Here’s hoping the three weeks goes by quickly!

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  • Chris Sanderson June 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Today, there was a worker at Hawthorne and 41st discouraging drivers from using 41st as a thru route. They need one at 41st and Lincoln to do the same thing.

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    • Paul Cone June 30, 2013 at 9:43 am

      I’m pretty sure I saw a barrier there also that said “ROAD CLOSED TO THROUGH TRAFFIC”.

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  • Ted Buehler June 30, 2013 at 12:01 am

    If you see unsafe conditions, like drivers going too fast on SE 41st, send an email to safe@portlandoregon.gov and ask them to put up a “speed readerboard” which posts the actual speed of cars on the street in a digital display.

    Also, ask for increased enforcement of any anti-aggressive driving codes.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Chris Sanderson July 1, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Yesterday, as I was heading west on SE Lincoln to make the right hand turn on to SE 41st, some joker in a minivan was pulling a Hollywood stop, and was super annoyed that I (rightfully) made the turn in front of him. He yelled something at me, and since passage is narrow, I took the lane all the way down to Hawthorne. He did not appreciate that, as he was looking to take 41st all the way down to Hawthorne. He was certainly not “local” traffic.

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  • Donna June 30, 2013 at 9:15 am

    then you better be doing close to the “normal speed”. Otherwise, get your butt to the right.

    Dude, have you ever even been on 34th or 41st? There’s nowhere else to go but the center. It is so narrow on 34th because the city allows parking on both sides, it’s essentially a one way street from Clinton to Division! Also, there are enough “everyone slow down for the children” residents on both streets that I certainly would not want to be out driving a car or even riding a bike too fast for conditions when the local Mom Squad is out. They might just surround your car or your bike and you’d never been seen again.

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  • dan June 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    When biking westbound on Lincoln, be very careful of southbound cars on 42nd. Cars crossing Lincoln southbound on 42nd have limited visibility (link here), and I saw a number of near misses while working in the yard today.

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    • Art Fuldodger July 1, 2013 at 9:43 am

      Ditto, Dan —- Just this AM the westbound cyclist in front of me on Lincoln almost T-boned a southbound rat-runner in a hurry who rolled the stop. Lincoln cyclists, proceed with caution.

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  • El Biciclero July 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    “Traffic from SE 39th closure is a mess! Bikers be especially careful on SE 41stβ€”most cars are diverting there.” – Tweet from Sharon Martell

    I know this is not intended as such, and yes, Sharon was addressing a bike-riding audience, but this kind of “cyclists beware” message rubs me the wrong way. I would like to know whether this same advice is being given to auto drivers. Are the radio and TV “traffic guys” adding a “watch for bikes addendum” when they report on and tweet about the dismal driving conditions along these alternate routes? “Drivers be especially careful on SE 41st–lots of cyclists were already using this street before you chose to detour here instead of 50th.” Are there signs posted to mind the speed limit and watch for “heavy bike traffic”? Anything?

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    • Mike July 1, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      Here’s one for ya, how about EVERYONE watch out for pedestrians, especially kids. Summer is here, the weather is nice, and kids are all over the place. I live right where everyone is being diverted to and I can tell you that both cars AND cyclists need to exercise patience and please, please keep an eye out for those on foot. A biker not watching where he or she is going can do alot of damage to my 5 year old, contrary to what most people here believe. It isn’t only the cars that contribute to the problem.

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      • El Biciclero July 2, 2013 at 9:40 am

        Definitely–I’m in complete agreement there. I was merely noting that with a flood of new traffic, it is somehow the existing prior traffic that must now watch out. Let me just state for the record that as we (cyclists) want drivers to treat us, so should we treat pedestrians. That means watching for them, slowing down, passing with care, and making allowances for erratic movement, especially–as you note–if kids are around.

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  • Doug Klotz July 1, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Are there signs posted at Division and Chavez saying that the official detours are 50th and 30th? NO. Unless the drivers got one of the flyers in the mail, they’d have no idea where they’re expected to go. The city has even removed parking from one side of 30th south of Hawthorne. I saw zero cars on it at 7:30 this morning. What good is an “official” detour if there are not signs at the point of closure telling where to go?

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  • jd July 2, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Husband, kid, and I are carpooling through there, since I’m way pregnant and we haven’t figured out how to make cycling work for this phase of our growing family. From my cycling- and pedestrian-friendly car window, the diversion looks pretty awful for surrounding neighborhoods, and it seems like people really feel they should be able to go Cesar Chavez speed on the neighboring streets. Glad it’s not permanent!

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