ODOT, neighbors work together for a better Bryant Street bridge

Bryant St. Bike/ped bridge

North Portland resident Tony Tapay and
ODOT’s Joyce Felton on the Bryant Street Bridge.
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

It’s been over a year since I first shared the news that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) was considering improvements to the ailing Bryant Street bike and pedestrian bridge.

Now, I’m pleased to learn that the Piedmont and Arbor Lodge neighborhoods — in close partnership with ODOT — are moving forward with their efforts to make the bridge safer, more attractive, and more well-known.

Piedmont Neighborhood Association member and well-known Portland artist Brian Borrello (he’s also a finalist in the Zoobomb Pyle rack design project) says they’d like to hear ideas about the bridge from as many members of the community as possible. He has helped organize a meeting this week (details below) to brainstorm enhancements for the bridge, “with special attention to the pedestrian and bicycle experience.”

For the inside story on this effort, I asked Borrello a few questions…

Why the effort to renovate/improve the Bryant Bridge? What’s the problem with it now?

“The bridge is ugly, “invisible”, poorly lit, perceived as unsafe, lacks proper signage, people throw bags of rubbish there, and it could be a real asset to Piedmont, Arbor Lodge, and N/NE at large as a bike and pedestrian corridor across I-5.”

Where is the money for this project coming from?

“We wrote a grant proposal for addressing the function and qualities of the bridge and we got $50K for our initial “enhancements” via ODOT. At first the money was going to be spent in “feasibilty” studies and sound/safety analyses by ODOT. We asked if we could approach this as a community driven project. We asked if we could create the project(s) from within the neighborhood — using local participation, local talent, local fabricators, for local users.

This was not conventional ODOT practice, however they have been great, really putting some effort into helping this bridge enhancement happen with a more “bottoms-up” approach. They are also preparing a master plan for/with us for developing our long term objectives and funding.”

Can you share one or two examples of improvements that have been discussed so far?

“I would like to see the bridge daylighted — both for allowing better visibility and safety and in exposing the bridge to the city as a viable, pleasant, if not creatively remarkable bike and ped passage.

It would also benefit from an “identity” that would express some character — perhaps a symbolic joining of two neighborhoods that were divided by this highway construction, perhaps a new name, perhaps a recognition of this bridge from the freeway below…

Portland is a city of cool bridges! Our neighborhood wants to make the best of our bridge!”

Here are the details of the meeting:

    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

    *For more info, contact
    Brian Borrello: (403) 286-3557
    Shaun Sullens (Piedmont Neighborhood Chair): shaunsullens(at)msn(dot)com

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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16 years ago

Hah, I just rode across this bridge for the first time today, not knowing of its existence until bycycle.org pointed it out to me. I wonder how many others don\’t know about it…

16 years ago

That\’s the point. I love this \”secret\” bridge, and the fact that it\’s so ugly and invisible only adds to its out-of-the-way appeal. Shawn Granton was the one who intorduced me and a bunch of other folks to this lovely shortcut a couple of years ago on a memorial ride. Biking down the dirt alleyway next to it can also be sneaky and challenging (you might run into some of the counterfeit money laundering winos who sleep there. I\’m thinking of organizing a cleanup on the next new and improved unimproved road ride.) Does everything fun have to become shiny, new and publicized? (O.K. Safety improvements are permissible.):-)

16 years ago

Is that supposed to be \”bottom-up?\”

\”Bottoms-up\” sounds a bit racy for government work – not that I\’m against it, of course, depending on the bottoms…

Sarah O
Sarah O
16 years ago

I\’ve used this bridge weekly to get to Fred Meyer\’s the \”back way,\” and while I love it in the daytime, it is waaaaaay too dark and dangerous to navigate at night. The 90-degree turn around the posts at either end are a bit challenging even in broad daylight, but when it\’s dark the turn is unlit and treacherous. I\’ve also seen bags of clothing and shoes left on the paths. Let\’s clean this bridge up and get it recognized!

16 years ago

I ride this bridge every day and would love to see it improved. It is quite hidden, but would rather have it more exposed that have people feel like Lombard of Portland Ave are their only options for crossing I-5. I know several folks, including myself, who don\’t ride it at night because it does not feel safe. Also, the turns are sharp and blind- every time that I get off the bridge I ring my bell and slow down- I am just waiting for a bike to be zipping onto the bridge and end up in a crash. I was thinking that it would be great to have the wall of the west side of the bridge have some type of thick glass windows, that way you could see if someone was coming you way (or if somebody creepy is hanging out there…)