Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 28th, 2015 at 3:24 pm
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
It’s been about 15 weeks since Multnomah County embarked on a major project to repaint and repair large sections of the the Broadway Bridge. And according to what we’re hearing from some of you, despite adjustments and additional measures being taken by the County, the construction zone is still causing significant safety issues.
Here’s what reader Jeremy Pair tweeted just a few minutes ago:
Another reader emailed us last week to say he feels the way the bridge paths are being managed is, “Extremely dangerous currently and I am concerned for the safety of myself and others.”
Here are a few more recent photos that document the conditions:
We’ve been forwarding those and other complaints directly to Multnomah County. To their credit they have responded. However, despite their efforts to improve the situation, the narrowness of the paths and the intermittent closures are still causing anxiety and headaches for many people.
After our reporting last month, the County stepped up even further. In the past few weeks we’ve noticed that when one of the two paths is closed flaggers have been positions at the eastern and western entries to the bridge. The flaggers stop traffic to allow people to travel without people biking and walking in the opposition direction. When the northern path is closed during the morning rush (when it’s needed most by people coming from the north into downtown), I’ve also noticed construction crew members standing on the corner of N Larrabee and Broadway directing people who come buy and hitting the “beg button” to make sure a green walk sign comes on.
Some of you have asked why they have to have so much scaffolding and why they can’t provide more notice before closing the paths. We recently asked County spokesman Mike Pullen for an update and here’s what he said via email in response:
“The contractor erects metal scaffolding and a containment structure around the areas to be painted to protect the workers, bridge users and the environment. Inside the containment, the contractor blasts off the old lead-based paint and adds three layers of paint, removing rust and replacing steel rivets that have deteriorated.
The scaffolding takes up some room on the two bridge sidewalks because the truss structure adjacent to the sidewalk is being repainted. The railings on the outside of the sidewalk will also be painted, at the end of the project.
We’ve managed to keep at least one sidewalk open at all times. We understand that having two-way bicycle and pedestrian traffic use a single sidewalk (that has pinch points where scaffolding has been installed) is a burden for sidewalk users. So we’ve taken steps to ensure sidewalk users are safe and provide the most access at peak times.”
In addition to the flaggers and increased worker presence, Pullen confirmed that they’ve installed more signs on the main bike routes that approach the bridge that warn people of the conditions and encourage them to use the Steel Bridge as an alternate.
Pullen has also reiterated to the contractor that the sidewalks must remain open in the peak commute direction. That is, the north sidewalk should always be open in the morning and the south sidewalk should be open in the evening (“unless there’s an emergency”).
Pullen says they realize the uncertainties around the closures are frustrating but “The nature of the work makes it hard to predict when and how long a sidewalk will be closed.”
We expect to be dealing with this for several more months. The project isn’t scheduled for completion until March 2016. Learn more at the County’s website.