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Possible sale of downtown Post Office could be golden opportunity for bikeway

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
usps map
A Portland Development Commission map of the “Broadway Corridor.” The PDC is meeting this afternoon to re-up their negotiation to buy the post office site at the base of the Broadway Bridge and fast-track a planning process for the area.
(Image: PDC)

If Portland’s main post office signs a deal to relocate, a huge payoff for biking could be hiding between the lines.

As the Portland Development Commission meets this afternoon to consider putting up $500,000 to reboot negotiations over moving the operation from the Pearl District to a new hub near Portland International Airport, advocates and planners are watching with great interest.

Redevelopment of the eight-city-block post office site could create the space and funding for a new built-from-scratch bikeway from the Broadway Bridge straight down into the Park Blocks, across Burnside past Director Park, and into the city’s biggest cultural district and Portland State University.

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Comment of the Week: A definitive wishlist for Portland’s bridges

Friday, February 20th, 2015
Last (and cold) sunrise of 2010-5
The Burnside’s bike lanes are OK;
it’s the landings that hold it back.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

From afar, Portland’s bridges are civic treasures. Up close, they’re little slices of rural highway in the middle of the most beautiful part of the city.

To its credit, Multnomah County asked for ways to change this, and this week BikePortland readers certainly delivered — none more comprehensively and persuasively than reader MaxD, whose Tuesday morning comment on the subject picked up on points raised by many other readers.

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Photo of the Week: Birthday blankets on the Broadway Bridge

Thursday, August 8th, 2013
Broadway Bridge blanket and sunset
Sunset light blankets the Broadway Bridge and its temporary “yarnbomb.”
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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Portland Streetcar will give free rides during Broadway Bridge closure

Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Riding the new streetcar line-1
Get free rides during next week’s closure.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The impending closure of the sidepaths on the Broadway Bridge next week has started a lot of discussions about how the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) handles traffic mitigation during construction. We have reported on the bicycling aspect of the closure; but many people are now realizing that it’s people who usually walk across the bridge that will most impacted. Unlike people riding bikes, they are highly unlikely to simply take the lane and the detour over to the Steel Bridge is likely a deal-breaker for those on foot.

Many walkers will likely hop on the new streetcar line. If they do, why not make it free? That’s the idea put forward last night at the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizens Advisory Committee (MCBPCAC). One member of that committee, Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocate Carl Larson, has asked (via email) Portland Streetcar Inc. to give free rides to everyone during the closure period. Here’s a snip from Larson’s email: (more…)

City “agonized” over three-day Broadway Bridge bicycle detour

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Broadway Bridge detour observations-13
Paths on Broadway Bridge will be closed
for three days next week.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland

For three full days next week, the paths on each side of the Broadway Bridge will be closed so the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) can do maintenance on the non-slip surface that covers the lift-span. The closure means that the thousands of people who ride and walk on the paths each day will be re-routed about one-half mile south to the Steel Bridge.

Closing both sides of the bridge paths is a new move for PBOT and one that has already rankled some feathers. When this same maintenance project was performed last fall, the City’s detour plans kept one side of the bridge open to bicycling and walking traffic at all times. Then, when the detour was clearly too confusing and not as safe as it could be, some smart advocacy and a bit of public pressure convinced them to dedicate a lane on the bridge roadway for bicycling.
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A Broadway Bridge photo essay in honor of its 100th birthday

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
Sunset on Broadway Bridge-1
As this photo attests, the Broadway Bridge is a great place for views of the Fremont Bridge and sunsets over Forest Park. (June 22, 2011)
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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Bike traffic will get a real lane for remainder of Broadway Bridge project

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
Broadway Bridge detour observations-1
Portland Streetcar will direct bicycle
traffic onto a vehicle lane on the bridge roadway,
instead of the sidewalk.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last week I wondered out loud if we could do better when it came to the disrespectful and dangerous detour for bicycle traffic on the Broadway Bridge. Well, it turns out we can and we just did.

Portland Streetcar Inc., whose project to repair the non-slip coating on the bridge sidewalks is what has caused the detour that began on September 24th, just announced that when they move the project to the south sidewalk this Thursday (10/2), they will convert the eastbound vehicle lane on the bridge into a bike lane.
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Bicycle traffic detours in place on Broadway Bridge for two weeks

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Riders headed westbound cross N Broadway
at Larrabee this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A project by Portland Streetcar Inc. will detour bicycle traffic on the Broadway Bridge. The work to replace the non-slip coating on the sidewalks of the bridge began on Monday and will go through August 13th.

The north sidewalk is closed now and all traffic is being routed onto the south sidewalk. Next week, the project will flip sides and all bike traffic will use the north sidewalk. The Broadway Bridge is a very busy bikeway, and this project means that the relatively narrow path must accomodate people walking and biking in both directions. (more…)

Guest Article: Getting creative to move a pole on the Broadway Bridge

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
Broadway Bridge pole
It will be moved.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Publisher's note: As an update to a story we covered several times last month, I've accepted a guest article from Chris Smith explaining his successful effort to have a streetcar pole on the Broadway Bridge moved out of the way of bike traffic. Smith is a well known (and quite busy) citizen activist who also happens to be a member of the City of Portland's Planning and Sustainability Commission, the founder of the Portland Transport blog, member of the Portland Streetcar Inc. board of directors and much more.]

Chris Smith

Today, I’m celebrating, because it looks like we’re going to be able to move a streetcar catenary pole (a pole that holds up the overhead wires) that has been impinging into the bike facility on the Broadway Bridge since this summer.

But I want to be clear about what I’m celebrating. I’m not celebrating a win for cyclists over streetcar. That would be the wrong lesson to take from this. I’m celebrating the ability of people of good will who don’t always share the same perspective to work together to achieve good outcomes (Congress, take note).

“I’m not celebrating a win for cyclists over streetcar. That would be the wrong lesson to take from this.”
— Chris Smith

This was not simple, and for a while I thought there might be no feasible way to move the pole, which is why, in conjunction with the BTA, I put a formal request for mitigation on the table as an alternative (download a PDF of that request here).

So how are we going to do it? The key challenge (acknowledged by a number of folks here in the BikePortland discussion who have looked at the bridge structure) is that the structural foundation for the pole is constrained by where the edge of the bridge structure is. The answer is to use the same foundation bracket, but then shift the pole horizontally from the anchor by a little bit (it will be more in ‘the shadow’ of the street-light pole on the sidewalk).

A number of folks noted that a similar “cantilevered” approach was used on poles on Weidler. In this case, the sidewalk is much more shallow. So instead of the large brackets used on Weidler, we’ll use a 2-inch thick metal plate with welded bolts (see diagram below).

Diagram of new pole location.
(Click to enlarge)

Secondary Effect # 1
The thin plate will sit on the surface of the existing the sidewalk. So we will need to increase the sidewalk height to match. This will require tapering the sidewalk gradually over a number of feet east and west of the pole. The plate itself will be flush with the new sidewalk grade and textured to keep it safe for people walking and cycling over it.

Once moved, the streetcar pole
will be in line with the
existing light pole (red).

Secondary Effect #2
Because the pole will now be much closer to the curb than standards provide for, we will need to place a bollard in front of the pole. This is to protect the pole if an auto ever jumped the curb. But the bollard will also be in line with the existing light pole, so it does not reduce the usable path.

Tertiary Effect
But we’re not done yet. No good deed goes unpunished. Because we’re raising the grade of the sidewalk, the railing on the river side of the sidewalk will no longer be tall enough above the sidewalk surface to meet standards. So we will fabricate and attach an extension to the railing on the two sections nearest the pole.

Impacts
Because of the extensive modification of the sidewalk adjacent to the pole and bracket, we’ll need to close the north sidewalk for about two weeks. The work will be funded from the Streetcar Loop project budget.

I’d like to thank my colleagues at Portland Streetcar who were willing to keep looking for solutions, ultimately threading the needle through all the constraints and regulations, and the members of the community who helped keep focus on the need to address this issue. Together we’ll keeping making Portland a better place for users of all modes of active transportation.


Thank you Chris Smith for not being afraid to stand up and make this happen. Citizen activist Joe Rowe also deserves our thanks for his persistence and effort in bringing this issue to the fore. — Jonathan Maus

Checking in on the Broadway Bridge detour

Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Broadway Bridge detour observations-12
Despite detour plans recommending
against it, some people are riding
across the bridge in the
main travel lane.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I spent some time yesterday watching how people on bikes were handling the detour onto the Broadway Bridge. The bridge just (partially) re-opened to traffic last Friday and currently there are two lanes open as well as the south sidewalk. All bike traffic is supposed to only use the sidewalk, but I noticed yesterday that some people are taking the lane and there’s some confusion about how to get onto it. (more…)

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