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TriMet track work gives bikers one less reason to avoid the Lloyd

Posted by on August 21st, 2014 at 6:44 am

biking to train
Smooth cruising: looking west across 11th at Holladay.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

A key bike connection between Southeast and inner North/Northeast Portland keeps getting a bit better.

The latest improvement to Northeast 11th Avenue and Holladay comes courtesy of track work last week by TriMet at its Lloyd Center MAX turnaround. The transit agency prioritized repairs to the track there in part because the crumbling pavement around the tracks had been increasingly dangerous for biking.

11th Avenue is the fastest connection not only between the MAX stop and the Lloyd Center mall, just up the street, but between two of the bikingest neighborhoods in the country: inner North and inner Southeast Portland. It connects the 12th Avenue bridge across Interstate 84 with the Multnomah Avenue protected bike lane, Rose Quarter and Vancouver/Williams couplet.


Last fall, 11th Avenue was striped with dashed, arcing bike lanes that help people steer safely across the tracks at 90-degree angles. And as of last week, it’s much more comfortable to bike on — not to mention walk across, skate on, look at or drive a MAX train over.

track crossing

“We replaced the asphalt with an elastomeric grout, which looks like concrete that is more durable than asphalt, and absorbs vibration and dramatically reduces noise caused by vibration,” TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetch wrote in an email Wednesday in response to a query from BikePortland. “It also prevents water penetration and bonds strongly to steel and concrete. It is now a much smoother crossing and the track and switches in the area will serve MAX riders for years to come.”

You can see the new grout surrounding the rails in the photos above and below.

track sideways

The $1.26 million project blocked all MAX traffic through the Lloyd District last week, prompting a one-day “thank you” from the transit agency in the form of a fare-free day on MAX Monday.

The work also left behind a smooth area of light-colored pavement in the busy, unmarked crosswalk across 11th at Holladay.

Fetsch wrote that TriMet had prioritized this work in part to keep the area safe for walking and biking, in part because the tracks were simply at risk of malfunctioning and in part because trains were moving extra-slowly through the area to prevent such malfunctions.

“There are many factors that go into creating the replacement schedule,” she wrote. “We had received concerns and complaints from pedestrians and cyclist, elevating this location on the replacement schedule. The track structure and switches also had excessive wear and needed attention. We had a slow order, or speed restriction, on that switch as a precaution for two years that we were able to lift since the work has been completed.”

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Comments
  • John R August 21, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Great! For all of the grief they get, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Tri-Met was one of the first agencies in the country to allow bikes on transit and has generally been pretty bike friendly compared to many other agencies.

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • Dan Morrison August 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Now if they could only get their trains to work when it’s above 85 degrees or below 55 degrees…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Todd Boulanger August 21, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Yes I remember those dark days in the early 90′s when bus drivers could deny me boarding a bus because I was carrying something…like a bike wheel that had to be repaired at a shop downtown…and forget about being allowed to board a bus with a bike when the front racks were full. (That was just some “Euro fantasy” back then.)

      And a lot of new folk in town probably do not know cyclists used to have to take a practical test and get a Trimet card to load their bikes on transit. (It was tough back in the day to forget your card and get booted from a bus late at night with a flat tire etc.) A lot of that was due to the crappy Yakima roof style racks the buses had before Sportworks dominated the bus rack market.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Blake August 21, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Same change to improve safety is VERY VERY necessary on N Interstate through the RQ (especially northbound!)

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Curt Ailes August 21, 2014 at 8:53 am

      +1 to this. I’ve lost 2 tubes going over the tracks on Interstate northbound and so has a co-worker. The tracks are treacherous!

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Reza August 21, 2014 at 10:13 am

      And SW 11th at Morrison and Yamhill where trains used to turn back.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • John Lascurettes August 21, 2014 at 11:19 am

        And 10th at those same two streets where MAX and Streetcar cross each others’ tracks at perpendicular angles.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

      • maccoinnich August 21, 2014 at 11:47 am

        Are those ever used, now that the red line goes all the way to Beaverton? If they need to turn a train back, they can do it at Providence Park. It seems like this would be an ideal site for TriMet to sell off for development, and clean up the mess of tracks a little.

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        • Chris I August 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

          How is a turnback performed at Providence Park? I don’t see a westbound-to-eastbound loop track on streetview.

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          • maccoinnich August 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm

            There’s no loop, but there’s a connection between the two tracks. (I don’t know the technical term for this layout). Turning the train would require stopping it, and getting the driver to walk to the other end. Obviously not a desirable move in regular scheduled service, but it would suffice in exceptional circumstances. It’s how the streetcar turns trains around at Riverplace and the the Broadway bridge when they have to.

            Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Dwaine Dibbly August 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm

          Yes, they get used.

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          • maccoinnich August 21, 2014 at 11:02 pm

            Do you know when and why? I had a quick look at the schedules for the red and blue lines, and can’t see any trains that terminate downtown.

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            • Curt Ailes August 25, 2014 at 11:48 am

              They are used in situations when there are mechanical issues delaying trains which is unfortunately, too often lately.

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  • John Liu August 21, 2014 at 8:09 am

    The resurgence of the Lloyd District continues. Good to see.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • maccoinnich August 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

      I look forward to seeing what the Lloyd District is like in 10 years. Hopefully very different to what it was like 10 years ago.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Anne Hawley August 21, 2014 at 8:48 am

    This is great news! I ride over that section frequently. The painted lines were helpful in communicating to drivers where bikes need to go to be safe, but smoothing the surface around the tracks is even better. Thank you, TriMet.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Anne Hawley August 21, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Well (answering myself), that was disappointing! I just rode over there, northbound from the 12th Avenue freeway overpass towards Lloyd Center, and the improvements don’t touch that side (the east side) of the street. Still a rough, bumpy ride over the tracks. Darn.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Buzz August 21, 2014 at 9:33 am

    This is great but there are still a bunch of other places they also need to do this. Off the top of my head, two locations that come to mind are on N. Interstate where the eastbound lines coming off the Steel bridge cross the road, and at SW 11th and 10th at Yamhill and Morrison.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • AndyC of Linnton August 21, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Glad to see Tri-met is doing this.
      Hopefully it sets a precedent.
      Off the top of my head, NW First and Couch in OldTown.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • RJ August 21, 2014 at 11:34 am

        Ditto to both of the above — I use Couch to get to the riverfront, and the pavement condition around the tracks at 1st is really terrible. And the MAX/Streetcar box of Morrison/Yamhill/10th/11th has a lot of buckling at the intersections.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bella Bici August 21, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I rode through this yesterday. And something really concerned me. For example, in that last photo the transition area between the new “elastomeric grout” and the old concrete appears similar to a hard, slick, glossy epoxy. In some areas about a foot or more wide. It seems as if this section in the rain would be very slick. Even more slippery than vinyl crosswalk stripes. This is my initial estimation.

    In the first photo you can actually see the reflection of the cyclist as he is approaching this transition area. If this was wet, I believe that you would skid out either front or rear wheel.

    Michael, did that catch your eye?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 21, 2014 at 10:43 am

      I didn’t catch that possibility but will check it out next time I’m through. Thanks a lot.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • John Liu August 21, 2014 at 9:19 pm

        The 1′ wide patches of smooth epoxy could be slippery when wet, similar to a painted line. However, they are located where you will surely be crossing them carefully, while upright, going straight, and neither accelerating nor braking. Why? Because they are between the metal tracks, and you will be crossing those tracks at the same time as you are crossing the epoxy patches, so if you aren’t riding as described, then if you don’t slide out on the epoxy you’ll slide out on the wet tracks about 6 inches later . . . All in all, I think they will be okay. But we’ll have to see.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Hudson August 21, 2014 at 9:48 am

    What makes the Lloyd a less-than-mediocre place for bikes is the lack of connectivity in almost all directions. For example, 7th Avenue has nice, wide bike lanes – which abruptly end at Weidler. It would be nice if that were extended past Broadway to Tillamook. It would require removal of less than ten parking spaces, but I’m guessing PBOT won’t even do that.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • MaxD August 21, 2014 at 10:53 am

      agreed, Todd! It is a bit off topic, but I have often wished for 7th to connect to Skidmore or Going at least to the north. Heading south, I keep wishing for a 7th to 9th bridge over I-84 (9th could get you nearly to the edge of Sellwood!).

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Todd Hudson August 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm

        A 7th Ave ped/bike bridge has been suggested before. It would eliminate, for people coming from the south, the need to bike on the crowded gauntlet of 12th Ave and Lloyd Blvd. I’d be nice if there were a federal grant for this type of project….

        Recommended Thumb up 5

        • Dwaine Dibbly August 21, 2014 at 5:32 pm

          Too bad there isn’t a large, steel girder bridge for sale locally that could be cut up and part of it used for this….

          Recommended Thumb up 2

        • John Liu August 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm

          What is wrong with taking 12th north/south over 84 and in/out of the Lloyd area? I do it all the time. Seems pretty routine. I would never choose to instead climb steps/ramp up and over a bike/ped crossing – that would be much more work and probably require dismounting.

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          • maccoinnich August 21, 2014 at 11:17 pm

            Things that are wrong with 12th include the following: it’s busy with cars, without great bike infrastructure, and therefore unlikely to attract the interested-but-concerned demographic; to the south the bike lanes on 12th don’t continue past Burnside; to the north 12th doesn’t even exist through the Lloyd Center; and it’s too far from MLK/Grand to be a great alternative if your destination is in that corridor.

            A bike/ped bridge at NE 7th helps get you all the way from NE Alberta to SE Division in a totally straight line. Because I-84 is sunk into Sullivan’s Guluch there’s no reason a bridge would need stairs or ramps. Think the Springwater over SE McLoughlin rather than the SW Gibbs St bridge.

            Recommended Thumb up 4

    • RJ August 21, 2014 at 11:49 am

      You could easily road-diet 9th through the district. That street does not carry anywhere near enough motor vehicle traffic to justify four travel lanes. Obviously, 9th doesn’t connect to much to the south, but it could be a good piece of the internal district bike network and provide a missing link between the Steel Bridge and NE Portland (Irvington, Tillamook Greenway, etc.).

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • RJ August 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm

        In fact, how about we put protected bike lanes on 9th and test out Falbo’s intersection design at 9th/Multnomah?

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Spiffy August 21, 2014 at 11:44 am

    that’s a key bike connection? I’ve never used it because it’s got a ton of unused tracks and it goes nowhere… I use 13th or 9th…

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Craig Harlow October 27, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I’m curious to know how others feel about this now that it’s been in place for a while.

    Southbound, it’s much, much, better. Northbound, it’s unchanged (in the painted bike path), and as awful as always.

    I take the auto lane from Holladay to Multnomah in order to (1) ride where the improvement was applied, and (2) position myself for a left or right turn (usually left) at Multnomah.

    This seems like a glaring missed opportunity.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

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