Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

ODOT wants input on Bryant Overpass

Posted by on August 23rd, 2006 at 11:44 am

Bryant St. Bike/ped bridge

[The Bryant Street bike/ped bridge
over I-5 in North Portland.]

Yesterday I met ODOT transportation planner Joyce Felton. Joyce is in charge of the seven community enhancement projects ODOT is funding as part of their I-5 Delta Park Project.

One of those projects is the Bryant Street Overpass, a bicycle and pedestrian bridge that crosses I-5 in North Portland between Portland Blvd. and Lombard. ODOT has allocated $50,000 to improve it and Joyce is looking to the community for ideas and plans for how to spend that money.

Bryant bridge with ODOT

[ODOT’s Joyce Felton.]

Joyce and I rode over to the bridge yesterday with local resident Tony Tapay. Overlooking gridlocked, rush-hour traffic we discussed what an important connection this bridge is for the community.

Compared to dangerous crossings at Portland Blvd* to the south and Lombard to the North (both include freeway exits and onramps), the Bryant Street bridge is the safest way to cross the freeway and is a key community connector to parks, light rail and local markets. *[Note: Portland Blvd. will see major safety improvements as part of the same ODOT enhancement program. Read my report here.]

The bridge is also a vital link between the Piedmont neighborhood and Chief Joseph elementary school, which will be part of Portland’s Safe Routes to School program in 2007.

Bryant bridge with ODOT

However despite all this, the bridge is an eyesore that many people in the neighborhood are either unaware of or afraid to use. Visibility is poor as you approach the bridge, which presents both crash and crime issues. There is also very limited signage and awareness for the bridge could be vastly improved.

Joyce is very enthusiastic about getting started on this project and I think this is a great opportunity for the community and ODOT to work together. Since I live just three blocks away, I plan on being involved from here on out.

If you’d like to help us make this overpass a safer, more pleasant part of the neighborhood, please get in touch with Joyce via email at Joyce.A.Felton@odot.state.or.us.

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  • Ayleen August 23, 2006 at 11:53 am

    Uh, how about a sign so people know the bridge is there? It’s totally invisible and there’s a strange perception that happens so that it appears to just be a wall when heading east. Simply a couple signs would significantly improve this useful bridge. I don’t understand how such infrastructure could have been put in place without some identifying signage. Most people don’t even know it is there.

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  • Jason August 23, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    I live on Bryant (but several blocks west of I-5) and usually I am heading south from the house so I too had no idea this bridge existed. Thanks for doing this story. I plan to check it out on my way home today, assess, and provide some input.

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  • Lenny Anderson August 23, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    The Boise and Overlook neighborhoods worked together to bring the Failing Street bike/ped bridge back from the brink.
    Open approaches, signs and grafitti control are key, but you might review the story to the south and learn from that success.
    PS there was new grafiti on the ramps this AM.

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  • Jonathan Maus August 23, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks for the tip Lenny. The main problem with the Bryant bridge is the combination of the narrow, right angle approaches and the placement of the bridge.

    Moving the existing soundwalls is not an option (way too much money), and neither is rebuilding the bridge to go up and over (like Failing Street).

    I think the best way to improve the bridge will be to make it more popular (thus keeping thugs away). This can be done through a combination of signage, aesthetic improvements (art, murals), and outreach.

    As for how to increase the visibility…I think mirrors are what we’ll have to do, unless someone comes up with a better idea.

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  • Shamus August 23, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    Jonathan and others,

    I think this is a great project – the more safe options, the better. But I also wanted to remind folks that the “dangerous crossings at Portland Blvd to the south” will hopefully be remedied by another of the seven ODOT enhancement projects: completing the existing bike lanes on Portland Blvd that are missing from just after the New Seasons on the west to Vancouver on the east – plus some signalization/improvements to the actual I-5 overpass. Anyway – just an FYI

    – shamus

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  • West Cougar August 23, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    I’d ride it more if there wasn’t so much broken glass. As much as I hate waiting on the lights on Portland Blvd (and don’t mind taking a lane on the bridge over I5), it is just not worth the risk of a punctured tire to take the ped bridge.

    So, long story short, I don’t think $50,000 in capital improvements _could_ make a difference. That amount is largely cosmetic and the bridge’s short-comings are not.

    Now, if they could use the money hire a part-time tender to clean up glass, and shoo away riff-raff… that at least would make a difference to us that know about it but choose not to use it.

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  • Jonathan Maus August 23, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for that reminder Shamus. Meant to include that in the post (and I have now).

    Here’s the link to my report on that project.

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  • MJ August 23, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    – signage
    – lights
    – mirrors for the blind corners?
    – routine cleaning
    – better entry landscaping

    I never knew about it either until “local resident Tony Tapay” showed me the way!

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  • Janaki August 23, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    My husband and I use this overpass on occasion to go to Fred Meyers or Videorama. There really is a lot of broken glass and the blind corners make it pretty scary, and I would NEVER ride their alone, after dark. It’s sketchy!

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  • tonyt August 23, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    Hey Jason,

    If you are coming from the west, the bridge is accessed via Saratoga.

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  • tonyt August 23, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    Hey all,

    I tried to assemble a small cleaning “party” for this overpass a while back via the forums, but no one bit on the idea. Given that there seems to be a number of people from the area paying attention right now, I would like to suggest a cleaning gathering/coffee drinking fest on the ped bridge this Sunday at around 10:30am. I can bring a Thermos of coffee, some brooms and a garbage can.


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  • neonjones November 21, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Bryant St. Pedestrian Bridge
    over I-5

    Community Design Workshop

    Connecting Piedmont & Arbor Lodge Neighborhoods

    6:30 – 9:00 pm

    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Peninsula Park Community Center

    N. Portland Blvd/Rosa Parks Blvd & N Albina

    Come join us in a co-creative effort to make enhancements for the bridge,

    with special attention to the pedestrian and bicycle experience.

    See our master plan development.

    Come braindance with us, get your ideas on paper!

    Possibilities for lighting, signage, art, landscaping, street painting,

    sound wall modifications, tree plantings, etc…

    Help us plan to spend our $50K grant in this Phase 1.

    For more info, contact

    Brian Borrello: 503-286-3557

    Shaun Sullens: shaunsullens@msn.com

    Piedmont Neighborhood Association

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