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.
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.
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.