Could Portland’s next bridges be carfree?

Front page of today’s Oregonian

The Oregonian has a front page story this morning about a new potential bridge that would cross the Willamette River south of the Marquam Bridge.

Writer Dylan Rivera reports that it would be “Portland’s first new bridge in 34 years,” and that it would be unique among other Willamette River bridges in its prohibition of a certain type of vehicle…

“The span would carry light-rail and streetcar service, bicycles, pedestrians and possibly buses. But it would have no cars — a testament to a generation that built one of the nation’s most coveted transit systems.”

The Oregonian headline calls it a “Portland-style crossing”. I like that.

Planners are still wrangling over the exact alignment of the bridge, but according to the Oregonian article, Portland Planning Director Gill Kelley says, “I think this can actually happen.”

I hope so. Read the article for more info.

Rendering by ZGF Architects

And in other bridge news, construction is set to begin in spring of 2009 on the SW Gibbs Pedestrian Bridge. According to the City of Portland Office of Transportation,

“The Gibbs Pedestrian Bridge will provide an important pedestrian and bicycle connection from the well-established Lair Hill neighborhood to the new South Waterfront District and the Willamette River. The pedestrian bridge span will be approximately 700 feet and cross over the Interstate 5 Freeway at SW Gibbs Street, adjacent to the Aerial Tram.”

Check out one of the architects renderings:

Carfree bridges, carfree streets, an international carfree conference coming to Portland next summer.

Dare I say we’re entering a new transportation era?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Cars are sooooooo 20th century.

Jessica Roberts
Jessica Roberts
16 years ago

I\’m sure there will be plenty of chatter here, but as a reminder, it\’s important that the Oregonian get some pro-biking/walking/transit letters to counter the inevitable letters from anti-bike people who want the bridge to carry cars.

Guidelines:

Letters to the editor, The Oregonian
1320 S.W. Broadway
Portland, Or., 97201

Or e-mail to: letters@news.oregonian.com

They may also be faxed to (503) 294-4193.

Limit letters to 150 words (they are ruthless about this). Include your full address and daytime phone number, for verification only. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

JE
JE
16 years ago

First off, Neat! And I can think of some other spots to build such a bridge. Right next to the existing Interstate Bridge so cyclists, pedestrians and transit users can wave at those stuck in traffic. \”Enjoying your drive?\”

But the last line of Dylan Rivera\’s article concerns me. \”And their answers may determine whether the bridge itself is all about utility or also about creating another Portland icon.\” Portland Icons tend to be very very expensive. Just take another look at the history of the Tram. Let\’s do this icon Dutch bike style; simple, pratical, economical and nice to look at.

Chris Sullivan
Chris Sullivan
16 years ago

Reminds me of the Millennium Bridge in London.
http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/millenniumbridge/index.htm

\”This bridge celebrates and encourages human movement and communication – free of traffic and accessible to everyone, it provides a key pedestrian link and a place to promenade while enjoying panoramic views of the city.\”

Mr. Viddy
16 years ago

Portland is not going to build a car-free bridge any time soon. I would love it but still too many cagers out there who would vote against such a project. Beautiful design though, love it.

Doug
Doug
16 years ago

This isn\’t so much a \’car-free bridge\’ as it is a light-rail/streetcar bridge that won\’t have capacity for automobiles. This makes sense, as adding capacity for autos would likely increase the costs significantly. Adding bike/ped facilities, however, is relatively easy.

I think we should be careful to avoid labeling this a \’bike/ped bridge\’ or a \’car-free bridge\’, as that only adds to ammunition that can be used against it.

That doesn\’t mean we shouldn\’t embrace this as great news. The bike community should be involved in the process to ensure that it suits our unique needs as well as possible.

Matt
Matt
16 years ago

Awesome! Portland already has numerous car ONLY bridges (Fremont/Marquam etc). I can\’t think of anything better than a transit/bike/pedestrian motal bridge.

PS – And let\’s not forget the bikelane/pededstrian project slated for the Morrison Bridge in the next few years!

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

There isn\’t any opportunity to \”vote against it.\” The light rail line is a done deal, voter approved and fully funded. These design decisions are made by governmental entities with the input of various groups. No one is pushing to allow motor vehicles, with the possible exception of busses. I\’m confident it will be a mass transit/bike-ped bridge.

Spanky
Spanky
16 years ago

It is a pretty bridge, but is it just me or does the central tower look a lot like a wooden clothes pin?

rev
16 years ago

great advise Jessica, here\’s my submission:

While I am sure many will complain that the idea of an \”everything but auto\” bridge will be unsatisfactory to some, it should be noted that the motorists already have three car-only-and-nothing-else bridges in the Marquam, Morrison and Fremont.

Often, when lamenting Portland\’s human-friendly approach to traffic, developer-types who would like nothing more than to exploit our surrounding beauty with endless sprawl, will compare us to Houston, Indianapolis and other cities without such regulation.

My advice to such myopic robber barons: enjoy suburbia while you can.

wsbob
16 years ago

Spanky, maybe you, like myself, think bridge designers could come up with a central support pylon that has a little more grace and beauty than a wooden clothes pin. The roadbed arc is graceful and beautiful. The support cables have a nice visual effect too. So why do they falter in the area of inspired creation of the most central visual elements of the entire bridge?

Fact is though, worrying about looks at this point is probably a bit of counting chickens before they\’re hatched. Considering some of the cycling dismissive attitudes of people in high places such as the DOT secretary, a lot of cycling as valid transportation advocacy has got to be exerted if a bridge like this ever stands a chance to get built.

I believe it will happen. It\’s going to begin to dawn on people never having thought of it before, that bridges like this are a super intelligent way to take some pressure off the motor vehicle transportation infrastructure.

blogmayor
blogmayor
16 years ago

God, is that an ugly bridge! But then it was designed by sociologists.

JE
JE
16 years ago

Don\’t judge the bridge by the Oregonian\’s cover. Sunday\’s Oregonian has a picture of another cable stayed bridge, this in Riga. Riga\’s single tower is way over to one side. Just search Google images for \”cable stayed bridge\” and you\’ll find many variations on the design. The Oregonian\’s picture of Portland\’s bridge is just as an example, I\’m sure.
My favorite cable stayed bridge so far is the Alamillo Bridge in Seville, Spain. Something like that would be gorgeous.

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

Light rail, street cars, bicycles, pedestrians– YES!

Buses– Keep the polluting beasts away from this bridge.

Jerry H
Jerry H
16 years ago

It would be nice if Portland could put up something as nice as the town of Redding CA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Sundialbridge1.png

In fact the bridge does not allow autos (in California – of all places). A more pleasing bridge picture would help if only subconsciously with Portland voters. Especially with those who would like to improve on the aesthetics of the skyline. Oh an another thing the picture used makes me think of a car maker..!

JE
JE
16 years ago

The sundial idea would be very cool at OMSI. Make the bridge\’s tower part of a Sundial park with the hours laid out on the ground.