Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on March 20th, 2014 at 10:15 am
(Photo by TriMet.)
The 7.3-mile light rail line opening next year through the South Waterfront, Southeast Portland and downtown Milwaukie will, of course, build a new car-free bridge across the Willamette, the biggest such crossing in the country.
But even if you don’t count the full $135 million bridge, the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail project will also include more than $40 million in bicycling and walking facilities on nearby streets.
For comparison: in 2008, the city estimated the value of its entire bikeway network at $60 million.
“It’s likely that this investment is the largest in the U.S. related to a light rail project,” estimates TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch.
“I’ve never heard anything comparable,” agrees Roger Geller, Portland’s bicycle planning coordinator. “This is going to change travel patterns in a really big way.”
As residents of Southeast Portland’s Brooklyn neighborhood are already seeing, the new bike connections will dramatically improve routes in and out of that area, which for decades has been sliced off from the city by Powell Boulevard, Milwaukie Avenue and Union Pacific’s rail line. All three are getting new bike-friendly crossings, and 17th Avenue will get buffered bicycle lanes in addition to its new rail line.
The inner Division Street area, where large amounts of bike traffic will be crossing the UPRR tracks, has already been changing. A two-block stretch of Caruthers Street will add the region’s first advisory bike lanes.
At each side of the bridge, connections to the bike routes there will create a new 4-mile biking loop across the river in addition to the 2.9-mile loop created today by the Steel and Hawthorne bridges.