“It’s nice spin… but it’s flat out wrong.”
–Portland Mercury News Editor Amy Ruiz, on Mayor Potter’s comments about the funding for the Sauvie Island Bridge re-use plan
The situation with the effort to re-use the Sauvie Island Bridge span in Northwest Portland is changing by the hour.
The two late developments of the day are an article by the Portland Mercury that delves into the funding picture and an update from Commissioner Saltzman’s office.
In her weekly “Hall Monitor” column due out tomorrow, Mercury News Editor Amy Ruiz dissects the funding picture and politics around the issue.
Ruiz’s column, “Dishonest Objections” focuses on Mayor Potter’s now infamous comments at last week’s City Council meeting — where his unexpected appearance and “no” vote was seen as a major setback to the project.
Potter’s comment that he’d, “rather invest that money in sidewalks, in safe ways to school, and in paving streets and reducing traffic congestion and improving traffic safety throughout the city,” earned him some media coverage and likely spurred critics Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams.
However, in her article, Ruiz contends that “It’s nice spin… but it’s flat out wrong.”
Ruiz then breaks down the $5.5 million that was slated for the project:
Two million of the Sauvie Island bridge funds come from River District Urban Renewal Funds—tax increment money collected in the neighborhood, for use in the neighborhood. River District money can’t be spent for sidewalks in SW Portland…
Another two million is from transportation “system development charges” [SDCs] — fees that developers pay to help offset the cost of new transportation facilities…The city has a list of 43 projects to spend the money on over the next 10 years—”capacity-increasing projects for future users,” according to the city ordinance—and the NW Flanders crossing is on that list. Potter should know that—he voted to approve the slate of projects last October.
[For more analysis of this project’s SDCs, read comments on my previous article from one of Commissioner Adams senior policy directors here and here.]
Another million in the bridge project budget is from a pot called “transportation enhancements,” a program the state administers, giving federal cash to “innovative projects” that “strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, or environmental value of our transportation system.” Like… a salvaged steel bridge for cyclists and walkers.
Finally, half a million in Adams’ proposal would come from his Safe, Sound, and Green Streets package—or from community fundraising, if that street fee proposal doesn’t eventually pass.(Hey Potter! If you’re so concerned about “reducing traffic congestion and improving traffic safety”—two of the core tenets of the $464 million street fee plan—then why the hell did you oppose it?)
So there it is; the complete funding picture. Read Ruiz’s entire column here.
As Ruiz acknowledges at the end of her piece, all attention is now on Commissioner Saltzman. With Commissioner Sten no longer in his seat, it means any future resolution or ordinance that comes up in Council must have at least a 3-1 vote to pass. With Potter showing no signs of supporting this project, Adams must have the support of Saltzman.
on the I-5 bridge in July 2007.
(Photo: J. Maus)
I talked with Saltzman’s Chief of Staff Brendan Finn a few minutes ago to get a feel for how the negotiations were going. (You might remember Finn from an article I wrote about him back in January.)
Finn was guardedly optimistic that his boss could work out an agreement with Adams. Finn said the deal is alive and that Saltzman wants to see the project happen. “At this point, we’re still working on it,” he said.
Finn strongly denied allegations that Saltzman is playing politics with this project. “If anyone knows Dan, they’ll know he’s always been extremely critical of sole-source contracts…and his decision on this had nothing to do with the merits of the project. He feels that we simply cannot afford to lose taxpayer confidence in how we manage the city’s finances.”
Will Adams and Saltzman be able to reach a compromise and get a resolution back in front of City Council? We should (hopefully) know the answer to that question before the end of this week.
So, with Potter so obviously and publicly wrong about something that a Mayor should so obviously have a better grasp on, is Potter a liar or just incompetent?
And since Saltzman has now forced the City to pay a higher price for the bridge than it was going to – because the contractor will want more for it if it is not guaranteed the money for the installation contract – I wonder how we\’re supposed to feel confident about Saltzman\’s management of the City\’s finances? Hint: Get it done, Dan!
I wasn\’t aware the Merc had a \”News Editor\” sounds almost journalistic. Seems like a lot of wasted effort to write up an opinion taking a position that most assume they would take simply because it is the Merc.
\”…is Potter a liar or just incompetent?\”
I don\’t think in Potter\’s case that those two thing are necessarily mutually exclusive.
…am incompetent liar…?
Topic aside. It\’s interesting that her column is called \”Hall Monitor\” since The Mercury is really nothing more than Portland\’s high school newspaper. For cool kids.
A close friend of mine worked on Potter\’s Vision PDX project. Based on many conversations with my friend, Potter is highly incompetent and surrounds himself with educated, but inexperienced, social climbers. Personally, he\’s so obsessed with the \”means\” that he has no idea what the \”end\” is (ie. Vision PDX). If he had his way, there\’d probably never be an \”end\” to any issue. Potter needs employment in some major \”bureaucrazy\” where process trumps results or should just take up knitting and do the world a bit fat favor..
I actually think the Mercury\’s political coverage has been awesome this season, and Amy\’s coverage of all topics City Hall has been well researched.
Just because you publish fart jokes, doesn\’t mean you can\’t also cover the news seriously.
\”Just because you publish fart jokes, doesn\’t mean you can\’t also cover the news seriously.\”
Oh man, that\’s a Homerism if I ever heard one.
Amy Ruiz does some really well-researched stories. Say what you want about the Mercury, but Ruiz\’s journalism is on-par with or better than the vast majority of Portland journalists.
There was a time when we used to think Potter was just slow. He never had much insight, he never said much, and he certainly didn\’t do much. But he seemed like an honorable guy.
What we learned, however, is that Potter is the kind of guy who holds a grudge. He deeply resented people around him that actually got things done.
Saltzman has always had a disappointingly modest agenda and an inaccessible style. He was vulnerable when Fritz ran against him but she\’s so pious it becomes literally painful to contemplate voting for her. (She\’ll self-destruct against Bissonnette in November too.) Saltzman, however, rarely ever deeply irritated anybody. And he often aligned himself with the mayor.
Sten began hugely ambitious as Boy Wonder but lost some high-profile battles along the way that knocked the wind out of him. He had grown weary of the public spotlight and would not have run for reelection but for the PBA trying to decapitate him. By the time Potter got elected Sten\’s ambition was reduced to just one issue, affordable housing, which is an issue Potter could grasp. And let\’s not forget Sten\’s timely endorsement of Potter in the spring of 2004 made Potter viable for the media, which in turn made him viable for the rest of us who rely on the media.
Leonard single-handedly crippled Potter\’s ability to do anything with the PDC (with key support from Sten and Adams). Randy is a master politician and he\’s had PDC on the ropes for 3+ years. Leonard and Potter dislike each other, but it\’s not personal.
The greatest irony is that, aside from Saltzman, Adams has been most supportive of Potter\’s anemic initiatives. That Potter is so obsessed in outrage by Adams\’ unabashedly bold style and ability to get things done shows how poorly he\’s been guiding the city for the last three years. Go back and look at the votes; Adams cast key votes on multiple occasions in support of a Potter goal where Sten and Leonard would have no part in it. Potter\’s disgust for Sam is rooted entirely in style not substance.
Potter has always been incompetent as mayor. His actions to deny Portland the street fee program as well as the Sauvie Bridge prove him to be a liar as well. You can\’t possibly believe what he\’s saying at face value. Amy Ruiz once again has the story before any of her peers in the local journalism business: not only is he incompetent for not recognizing who his friends are on council, he is dishonorable for lying about his motives.
Even if you dislike the Sauvie Bridge idea, I figure you should support it just to stick it to your mayor, the incompetent liar.
Way to tell it like it is, Nighttime MAX Driver.
Yeah, and Sam has played this completely open, right? Cobbled together funds from here, from there, from anywhere he can scrape a few dollars. Brought it up under emergency provisions rather than considering it as a regular agenda item.
Potter may be going cuckoo on this one, but this is pure Adams posturing as well.
The whole thing is phony baloney, which seems to be the way things are down in Stumptown these days.
And Sam\’s bike groupies just eat it up.
I love comments like this, \”And Sam\’s bike groupies just eat it up.\”. Or maybe they\’re are people who want to see the project happen. Only losers decide issues based on the personalities pushing them.
The Mercury and the Tribune actually have better coverage of issues like this than the Oregonian or the Willamette Week ever will.
jj #12 – where do you think funding comes from for projects? Oh, wait, if you look at almost any major project here in Portland you will see that it comes from a patchwork of funding sources. Most projects fall under a few different funding areas and it makes sense to disperse the burden over the different funding options. Future projects may have less funding options to draw upon so you do not want to draw too heavily on any one fund when you have numerous options.
Secondly, the emergency amendment to the proposal was in place because Kuney was asking for a decision right then. Since it got rejected, Kuney has seen the degree of interest in the project and have slowed down the process to try and help the city reach a decision.
Let\’s be honest, like Nighttime MAX Driver: The only reason these haters are even bringing up the Merc or Amy is that they\’re trying to distract from the real issue – Amy has exposed that there is nothing to their BS objections. They\’re fake. False. Not real.
Hey, now, Former 49er in #6:
Don\’t be dissing knitting!
Kg, #13: Voters decide who to vote for based on personalities, which shape an individual\’s politics. Does that mean that every registered voter in America is a loser?
Heh…well put Max driver.
I\’m not a particular fan of moving the bridge to NW, frankly I think many have simply fallen in love with the romantic notion of relocating it, not really considering how it would really look.
Hunting gophers with a Howitzer comes to mind for a 30\’ wide bridge for bikes & Peds.
You just know fools are going to try and drive across it too.
At least the London bridge is still over water.
If Potter really was interested in \”improvements\”, why not negotiate with Kuney to stay within budget constraints?
And for the record, I\’m no Adams groupie.
That fool is behind the \”back in angle in parking only\” along SW 10th here where I live.
I get to breathe the direct exhaust from cars backing in, warming up, and leaving, My friends\’ cars getting backed into, and at least 30% more horn honking from drivers & streetcars.
No…I think Adams spends more time trying to \”look good\” than actually giving a crap.
Potter may act like a 3yr old, but Adams is far more Dangerous.
KT – Yes. You should vote for a candidate because they represent you\’re point of view or you believe they are going to represent your interests. And yes the majority of US voters apparently are losers which explains why we have had a loser in the White House for 8 years. You\’re not in High School anymore so grow up.
RE: Sam Adams, Sauvie and Politics
Folks, ask yourself if it makes any sense at all for Adams to be putting himself behind this project.
Think about it.
First, he tried to pass a street maintenance fee/tax at the same time he\’s running for mayor. That doesn\’t make much political sense, but he felt it had to be done.
Now, he\’s putting his political neck on the line for a project (Sauvie) that is a very easy target of ridicule for his critics… yet he\’s doing it anyways.
Don\’t think it\’s a risk?
Did you see the ridiculous op-ed in the Oregonian on Sunday?… the one with the cartoon of the Tram carrying bikes over I-405?
I\’m sure his mayoral campaign advisers are losing their minds… yet he\’s doing it anyways.
Tell me, how could Adams\’ support and work for this project be considered political posturing?
If anything it\’s a huge political risk… that Adams is willing to take because he knows how unbalanced and unsafe our current transportation network is and he wants to make it better.
I\’d like to see an engineering analysis, with accurate costing, of several alternatives (including old Sauvie) for a Flanders/I 405 crossing, which we do need, but not urgently.
This is the way we got our excellent Three Bridges on Springwater, designed by Gary Rayor, a world class engineer of pedestrian and bicycle crossings. How about a larger version of his magnificent McLoughlin arch over I 405?
I have identified the basic problem here: The Sauvie-at-any cost fans are a bunch of knee-jerks, because they do not ride fixies, which have that wonderfully smooth and powerful stroke that requires constant force on the lower leg, and not the herky-jerk motion of the freebie. This category obviously includes Scott and Sam.
For a fixie analysis of the Sauvie proposal see my web site, blogmayor.com
\”The Mercury: Portland\’s high school newspaper for cool kids.\” That\’s awesome! They should print that under their nameplate next week.
What\’s even cooler is that the Merc is distributed free, so even nerds like me can pick it up every week. I\’m going out to get today\’s issue right now!
The fact that most people don\’t expect \”serous\” journalism from the Mercurury gives them a lot of freedom. Reporters like Amy Ruiz and Scott Moore (City Hall reporter before Amy) can write whatever the hell they want and just tell it like it is … a technique that often leads to a more honest and truthful form of journalism than you\’ll find in some of the older, more \”established\” media.
I know what\’s behind this mess: brakeless fixies!
I\’ll also pile on the Mercury love-fest.
Ruiz, Matt Davis (although he\’s a bit crazy at times!), and before them Scott Moore are doing great work.
Some folks might wonder why I feature Ruiz\’s column front and center… yet I didn\’t even mention anything about a hugely negative op-ed in the Oregonian last sunday.
It\’s not that I\’m trying to only write positive things about this project… it\’s because that O op-ed was just a hack job and the writer does not have a good grasp on the facts or the larger context of the issue.
Curt\’s point above is a good one. They do write with probably more freedom and they definitely take more risks than any other news outlet in town (including mine sometimes).
Amy\’s local issues reporting is the best I\’ve ever seen anywhere. The Merc is lucky to have her.
\”Tell me, how could Adams\’ support and work for this project be considered political posturing?\”
Free publicity. His name is tagged onto this story wherever it is discussed. If it goes through, he will be seen as progressive and innovative. If it fails, he can cast himself as the scrappy underdog battling incompetent Potter.
Hey, you asked!
That said, your coverage of this and some of the comments have brought me around. I now fully support this project. I still understand and agree with many of the complaints and see no need to mock and deride the people who have them.
I hope this passes and encourage everyone to keep up the pressure. Write some letters folks! Hound Saltzman, his concerns are valid but easily assuaged.
Let us all hope that whomever our next mayor is they are better than the trainwrecks of Vera and Potter!
\”Amy\’s local issues reporting is the best I\’ve ever seen anywhere.\”
I think you need to look around a bit more then! This site alone makes that comment look a bit naive.
\”Amy\’s local issues reporting is the best I\’ve ever seen anywhere.\”
I disagree, there is a Jonathan Maus guy that writes about bicycle issues that I think is better. 😛
The Mercury\’s coverage of Obama and Hillary\’s visits was very detailed. (Amy sure can type fast!) People going to KGW\’s website had to settle for blurry photos from a cellphone.
Sure, parts of the Mercury are useless and annoying, but so is the Automotive section of the Oregonian.
The funding sources for this project may be available to a large degree, and they may be valid sources to tap, however, the larger questions are whether this project makes sense for the neighborhoods it purports to serve or is the best use of the funds in general given all the possible bike related projects the city should consider.
Look at it sensibly and ask, do we need this connection?
Everett and Glisan cross I-405 with bridges and bike lanes. Johnson and streets north of Johnson connect under I-405. Johnson and other \”alphabet\” streets north are marked as bike boulevards.
Flanders connects to Westover but not to the streets of the north west hills, nor to the Esplanade…so in terms of connectivity it does not improve on connections already served by Everett, Glisan or Johnson. I think Bike Boulevards should serve at the scale of the city and this route does not meet that criteria.
If we desire to enhance bike access in places of highest potential use, then the streets north of Johnson are better located for such consideration…the highest concentration of future residences and employment will be north of Lovejoy in the Pearl district, the Terminal One development, and the Conway Development. Bike circulation patterns and safety issues in these areas are very important to consider given the numerous closed roads, rail tracks, and long neglected street pavements.
The proposed bridge, if built of concrete, would achieve the same objective as moving the Sauvie
Island bridge but for considerably less money. The excess money could be used to extend the Everett/Glisan Bike lanes to 23rd, fill dangerous pot holes on 23rd, Burnside, and other streets or for other bike benefiting projects. Why expend more money than necessary on a bridge?
The pretense that recycling the Sauvie Island Bridge is a sustainable act is ridiculous. It will require an expenditure of energy and materials to repair, move and install. Recycling the steel is sustainable as well. If one really did the math, I think the answer would demonstrate this is not a win for the environment–that a bridge specifically designed for its proposed function and siting would be a more efficient, hence sustainable, means to achieve the stated objective of crossing I-405…but again remember this bridge is redundant and neither moving or building a bridge is a carbon neutral act.
I further object to the idea that this bridge will be an \”audacious…legacy
minded…new landmark on the city skyline\”as the Oregonian\’s writer
suggested. If this bridge was such a landmark, why did we not restore it in
I do not think the bridge is attractive. It is an ordinary highway bridge. It will look grossly out of place moved from its original location spanning water and placed in this concrete urban context.
As a design statement it is a dud.
If we want something to be proud of, why not have a competition for Portland designers to propose a crossing? Why not celebrate our creative community…we have a wonderful model of the integration of technology and art exemplified by our hand-made bike building community–why not challenge architects, designers, engineers, etc to propose a world class design that is sustainable, artistic, innovative? That brings together technology and art?
I ask the cycling community to see this project in its political context.
This project is a present to the cycling community to garner support for the Burnside-Couch Couplet. Along with the newly proposed Burnside Trolley, and the wider sidewalks on lower Burnside, these sustainable oriented ideas are being grafted onto an out-dated auto based traffic engineering project.
While neighborhood and business associations in NW and NE are asking to have couplets de-coupled (NW 18th/19th, and NW Broadway/Weidler), PDOT is pursuing a city destroying couplet for Burnside-Couch and dressing it up like Bridgeport Village. By linking bike and trolley projects to the couplet, they hope to achieve consensus on a project that will irrevocably disconnect the city\’s two sides, four quadrants and innumerable neighborhoods.
The couplet and the environment it will create will force out the emerging, local and innovative businesses that are currently energizing Burnside. I doubt anyone who reads the Mercury will be happy strolling the Burnside/Couch couplet with its Pottery Barns and Starbucks….Thus, I doubt they will find much reason to be anywhere near the Flanders crossing at I-405.
Portland is at a very fragile state of development…We need sound planning that integrates all transportation modes…pedestrian, rail, bikes, and motor vehicles…that respects and enforces existing urban patterns, that celebrates design…great design, that is a sound use of funds…Portland needs a better framed debate…not another project based argument or a politician\’s ribbon cutting opportunity.
The current Sauvie Island bridge can no longer accommodate heavy (with all those blackberries!) freight; thus the need to replace it.
I have largely stayed out of this whole argument. But I have to say you captured my thoughts completely. It makes no sense to me why we need a new at Flanders when you have one on Everett and Glisan. People are saying those crossings are dangerous, well fix them. Also, if you add a bridge at Flanders, you\’re going to have to add traffic lights on both sides of it. Thus creating more conjestion and potential for accidents.
As has been mentioned countless times on this site (and others), the money set aside for this project cannot be spent to fill potholes or anything else. It has been allocated specifically for this project.
Also, please remember that just because you (as an experience bike racer for many years) don\’t find the existing crossings difficult, doesn\’t mean they are safe and comfortable for others.
Brad Ross said:
\”It makes no sense to me why we need a new [bridge] at Flanders when you have one on Everett and Glisan. People are saying those crossings are dangerous, well fix them.\”
Do you have any idea how much it would cost to \”fix them\”?
Do you know of the timeline when the job would be completed?
Do you know if the \”fixes\” would turn those crossings into safe and comfortable crossings for a wide range of bicyclists, not just seasoned racers and commuters like yourself?
Do you know of some engineering methods that are able to both calm high-speed auto traffic and provide a comfortable environment for bikes — all while maintaining existing motor vehicle traffic volumes?
The point is… there is no \”fix\” on the horizon for Everett and/or Glisan.
In the meantime, we have a high-confidence cost estimate on a project that will be completed by December, offers twice the width of any other option, has identified funding sources lined up, and has overwhelming community support.
Just thought I\’d share all that in case the only thing you\’ve read about this project is Rick\’s comment.
I\’ve been riding my bike across those two bridges for twenty years now. They are no more or less dangerous than any of the hundreds of other intersections in PDX that cyclists deal with eey day.
I see by your comments that this project is your baby and you love it. But it\’s a bastard baby.
\”I\’ve been riding my bike across those two bridges for twenty years now. They are no more or less dangerous than any of the hundreds of other intersections in PDX that cyclists deal with every day.\”
Exactly! We need more safe intersections! I completely agree with that.
And yes, I do love this project and feel that it would be a shame if politics and misinformation are what killed it — instead of sound objections (which I am still waiting to hear).
blogmayor (#21) – \”accurate costing\” does not exist. Cost estimation is a voodoo science based on \”best-guesswork\”. The number of factors that can affect cost are innumerable, and sometimes events happen that are legitimately unforseeable that affect costs drastically. Other than pure luck, the only way to get most projects to come in on or under-budget is to have a creative individual or team cut costs by thinking outside the box, or by ruthlessly monitoring and controlling expenses. That\’s a lot harder than it sounds.
Potestio (#30) – Everett and Glisan are not pedestrian-friendly. Johnson is not a bike boulevard, it\’s a low-traffic street.
Bike boulevards have had treatments applied to reduce auto traffic, and other improvements that have not been implemented on NW Johnson. See http://www.bta4bikes.org/at_work/bikeboulevards.php for information on what a bike boulevard is.
Flanders connects to Tom McCall waterfront Park and Naito Parkway. Users can then take the Steel or Burnside bridges across the river. I\’m not sure what you mean by \”serve at the scale of the city\”.
The proposed bridge doesn\’t yet exist. There are no specifications for it at present, the cost is indeterminate as is the timeline. We don\’t know that it would be cheaper, we only know that a 15\’ concrete span would likely be cheaper if there were constructing it right now. Concrete prices have risen drastically in the last 2 years, as have steel prices. In fact, nearly every raw material has risen drastically in price over the last 24 months, which makes sense since energy prices have risen in that same time period. The Sauvie Island bridge price is basically fixed – it\’s already built, and since the steel span itself has no major structural defects, it could potentially last another 100-200 years if kept treated with a rust preventative.
Why expend more money than necessary? Because monetary cost is not the sole issue, nor even the most important one. It\’s environmentally responsible to reuse the bridge. It prevents new strip-mining for materials from occuring. It saves the energy needed to scrap the Sauvie bridge, as well as the energy needed to extract and process the materials for a new concrete bridge. This community (Portland, not just cyclists) has a history of not using disposable items, of being sustainable, of buying organic, of being responsible – because it\’s the right thing to do, and because it maintains our quality of life. If cost were our sole concern, we\’d have no art, all our buildings would be plain boxes, all our bridges would look like the Marquam bridge (or the I-205 bridges, heaven help us).
Recycling the steel is *not* sustainable – reusing it is. Recycling takes as much energy as it does to process new steel from raw iron – the reason why the industry does it is because they don\’t have to pull the metal out of the ground and process the ore. Just because it costs a fraction energy-wise doesn\’t mean it\’s sustainable. If I make $1,000 a month, and I spend $1,500 a month rather than $4,000 a month, I\’m still going to go broke when my savings runs out – it just takes longer. Recycling the Sauvie bridge *is* ridiculous – reusing it is not.
Brad (#32) – Fixing the problems at Everett and Glisan may cost a lot more than $5.5M. If so, are you willing to help pay it?
My love for Brad Ross and Rick Potestio continues to grow, and grow… (Hey guys, is it \’cross season yet?)
This \”hater\” did say \’topic aside\’, but hey, as long as the porn and prostitution ads keep the Mercury free then it\’s still a good rag.
I do wish Amy Ruiz the best in her journalism career and hope that she can continue to provide objective reporting for a larger publication in the future.
(re)nominating this topic for \”page two\”
Rick Potestio, congratulations. You are quite impressed with your own opinion, however short-sighted and foolish it may be. The BTA hands out Alice Awards for individual contributions to the common good of bicycling; you deserve precisely the opposite.
It doesn\’t even matter whether you\’re right or not (you\’re not). The mere fact that you would contact the Oregonian condemning this effort, upon which David Blowhard – excuse me, David Reinhard – would seize to further his own right wing, anti-bicycle agenda is stunningly stupid on your part.
Let me say this really clearly: your selfish actions suggest you are no friend of bicycling in Portland.
[NOTE from Editor: Nighttime MAX Driver, please be careful at your tone with other commenters. Let\’s keep it clean and resist the personal insults. Thanks. — Jonathan
Right about now your temperature is rising, you\’re eager to defend your view, you\’ve thought about the merits of the Sauvie crossing at Flanders so carefully, and – of course- you\’re entitled to your view. How could you possibly deserve such a lashing?
Because you don\’t get it. This is not at all about what you think is best for Portland. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save a bridge and relocate it in the only place it makes for non-motorized passage between two neighborhoods poorly connected but otherwise well-developed to accommodate bikes.
Everett and Glisan crossings work for you? So what? It\’s not about you. It\’s about everybody. The data shows conclusively people don\’t feel safe riding across either crossing (not to mention Burnside or Couch, which are even less hospitable). In both instances the bike lanes drop shortly after the crossing. In the case of Glisan, a cyclist has to share the lane with buses – far from ideal.
Did you ever stop and think that it\’s not just about you? That getting your neighbor on a bike more often instead of a car might require something different than what you\’re comfortable with?
You didn\’t. It\’s all about you.
And you were exploited by a right-wing bike hater in the Oregonian because you had no foresight, no wisdom. Blowhard gets paid to write hate, and you fed him.
You blew it because you didn\’t think about anybody but yourself. And you got had and hurt us all in the process.
It doesn\’t even matter what you say in response. Whatever you say in your own defense, it\’ll be about you. Speaking for myself, I don\’t care about your opinion; I care about seeing more people on bikes, fewer enslaved to their cars because I think it\’s a matter of global security. If we can\’t create conditions that encourage people to find courage to step on to a bike, we\’re SOL.
I say this is exactly why we should do it. It will be unique. It will be something people remember, a landmark people find their way by. It will be something that will end up on post cards, and will be featured in bike rides and other events.
The bridge by itself is nothing spectacular, but the history of the bridge and the reuse in an unexpected setting is quite spectacular.
How many things have been torn down or thrown away in the past because we thought they were nothing special? And then later on we were like \”Man, I wish I had saved that…\” They simply do not build bridges like this anymore, so they are getting more and more rare. I had Star Wars and GI Joe and Transformer toys that I thought were completely common, nothing special, and not worth saving… Boy do I regret that now. Did anyone ever think the Atari 2600 would be a collectors item?
The city is so full of shiny new things. We need to keep a few of the old things around too….
Sometimes, appreciation of our city and our surroundings has intangible benefits that can\’t be tallied by an accountant. Sometimes it is more important to think holistically, and not just about the bottom line.
High Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrodgenated/Partially Hydrodgenated oils are both cheap and plentiful. But they are also toxic to the human body… Cheap purely functional infrastructure designed only around the pocketbook are toxic to the city.
I will repeat what I said in testimony at City Hall.
No one takes pictures of the cheap concrete bike/ped bridge over SE Powell at 9th except to maybe report graffiti.
We need more structures that we point to and say \”THAT IS PORTLAND!\”
As Matt said so eloquently:
\”Because monetary cost is not the sole issue, nor even the most important one. It\’s environmentally responsible to reuse the bridge.\”
It\’s ironic that the mayor spent so much time on finding out the city\’s vision, and then when confronted with an actual concrete (and steel) example of Portland vision in action — sustainability through wise reuse — he closes his eyes. Whether it\’s from a penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude or political gamesmanship, it\’s such a shame that he didn\’t lend what little credibility he has left to a project that really is visionary, in the sense that it provides greater long term benefits (as Jonathan, Matt and others have outlined) than the alternatives. On the other hand, it\’d great that we have a chance to elect a real visionary to replace him.
Matt – I was on Johnson near Jameson Square earlier this evening, and it is in fact marked with the bike boulevard \’circles\’. The multitude of stop signs belie the nature of the street, however; and I am not aware of any \’improvements\’ that would truly elevate Johnson Street to Bike Boulevard status.
MAX Driver, it\’s exactly right that people deciding which way to go on this span should be thinking about the range of different kinds of bicycle riders they hope to bring to the streets of Portland. The widest cross-section reasonably possible should be the objective.
I hope to see more families with kids, and people in their 70\’s, maybe even 80\’s out there. On Flanders with a great bridge, they might, but on Everett or Glisan? No Way.
A modern styled bridge might be exciting and beautiful, but I\’ll bet the Sauvie span will look great over I-405. Even road weary motorists will finally have something interesting to look at on that boring stretch. It\’ll be a nice lead-up to the Fremont.
OK, I go out for a (self indulgent) glass of vino (or two)and come home…to read some debate! Trashing me!
Jonathan, I greatly appreciate that you love this project and do not object unknowingly.
We should all recognize the unique opportunity we have to debate this project and the great forum you provide here and show each other some respect.
Let me state also that I will sign my name to my opinions, and not hide behind a nick name, and that I will respect another person\’s opinion and not digress into name calling and other such counter productive behaviors.
I do think that politics is central to this project and that it is part of a larger and more problematic transportation plan for the city. This transportation plan that has not had the benefit of urban planning and design as its foundation….I think that this and many such projects are premature without a comprehensive urban plan in place…I have stated those concerns and will continue to do so.
I am interested in the highest realization of creating a \”sustainable\” (not my term, but one people seem to understand) city and have some very definite opinions to express about how that can be accomplished.
Now, to address the responses to my comments….
Funding…I stated with qualified terms that I think the money is better spent…I did not state where the money comes from. But, from what I have read, it is cobbled together from a variety of sources, and few if any, to my understanding, are specifically dedicated to either Flanders street or a bike bridge. I believe some or all the funds may be (re)allocated to more important projects.
Pot hole filling (of which there are many on Everett), is just one of my suggestions…in my letters to the Oregonian and City Commissioners, I suggest other uses such as extending or completing bike lanes on Everett and Glisan.
I further state that (if a bridge is to be built) I believe a more sustainable and economic solution would be to build a bridge designed for the specific Flanders location/function…and I challenge the city to create an opportunity for doing something creative.
SO, I first question the use of funds on a basis of highest and best allocation; then I question why more money be spent than needed…suggesting the excess of +/- 3Million difference between a concrete span (could be cool, ask Calatrava) and the recycled Sauvie Island Bridge be allocated for other projects; finally I suggest that if any funds are to be spent on a bridge, that we do so investing in our creative community.
I may be an experienced bike racer (racing community please quit laughing NOW!)…I am a more experienced bike commuter, with about 41 years on the bike in Portland, Boston, and New York…and elsewhere. I\’ve had my share of \”encounters\” with motorists….I have friends and family that are not experienced cyclists and nephews who are just learning to ride a bike…riding with them is the most nerve wracking experience anyone can have as you are hyper aware of the dangers and their lack of experience riding. I am sure all parents can relate.
I have gone to a lot of memorials for very skilled racer/commuter cyclists who did not make it to the next meeting or the next race.
So I am thinking (contrary to cynical popular belief)about general safety. I also obey all traffic laws, and signal prolifically to all motorists, because if my experience has taught me anything, it is to trust no one or any situation.
Calling me selfish or suggesting that I am un-aware or the dangers of riding either for my self or others is an insult, as I am sure it was intended.
Regarding safety of the intersections at Everett and Glisan—here Jonathan gets to the heart of the bike/car problem and the political/bureaucratic problem….
The assertion that the crossings on Glisan and Everett are dangerous enough to justify a new crossing on Flanders are not in my opinion true. They are safer than many in the city. I have been going to work and home on these streets for years…when the bike lanes were first installed on Everett, which at 15th has an entrance to I-405, motorists were completely indifferent to cyclists…now they are extremely cognizant that cyclists are there and wait for cyclists to go through before moving on themselves. Humans do learn and most of them care! That does not mean that cyclist can just blow through, mentally citing their rights to the bike lane…the prudent cyclist stops, waits, communicates with hand signals, and proceeds with extreme caution.
First, these are signaled intersections. Second, they have marked bike lanes. Third, I do not think they were chosen for bike boxes. Fourth, motorists are very familiar with bikes at these intersections.
But these are also couplet streets with freeway entrances/exits. Couplet streets and freeways encourage faster moving vehicles. Faster moving vehicles are bad for cyclists.
I would love to see these streets de-coupled. Bike safety is as much about slow motor vehicle speeds—streets with head on traffic create more cautious motorist behavior and slower speeds…adding bike lanes and more bikes to the streets will slow traffic further and heighten awareness. These intersections could have bike signals.
I do not agree that fixing these intersections is expensive…compared to allocating millions of dollars to a new crossing…which will coincidentally, cross the the same traffic coming off or going onto I-405. The Flanders intersection will need a signal and will be structurally the same as the other two, less the freeway on/off ramps but with the same cars.
If there is a place to lay the blame for the timeline these projects take, I would suggest you question PDOT or PDOT\’s boss…last I read there is a very long line of overdue street improvement projects–heck, SE still has dirt streets. When does outer SE get some love? And what about 23rd??? Seems there is some fence mending to do there with the business and neighborhood communities…wish there could be some street mending too.
I also cite the fact that the north/south cross streets that Everett, Flanders and Glisan connect to are amongst the most bike unfriendly in the city. 18th/19th are high speed couplets with bike lanes…speed kills. 21st and 23rd are extremely busy, narrow, do not have bike lanes, and have very serious pothole problems…so no matter how \”safe\” the east-west route is one choses…the north -south routes are not \”safe\”…I wonder how the Flanders proposal will effectively improve the overall experience and safety for the NW rider?
Regarding my statement that Everett and Glisan are bike lanes and Johnson is \”marked as a bike boulevard\” I suggest you go ride the street…it and others north do have the bike boulevard markings…The markings are the same as those used for bike boulevards on the east side. Also Overton and Raleigh are designated as a bike boulevards on the streets or the map I referenced on line…AGAIN, I suggest that the bike lanes be extended to 23rd on Everett and Glisan. I suggest that the markings and maps be complete, and consistent. I suggest where the funding can come from.
Per my statement about criteria for bike boulevards…I think they should connect to a large context and not be dead ends. Flanders on the east end dies into Steel bridge ramps…not the esplanade…(I will check it again tomorrow) and on the west ends at Westover…I think my description of the situation is accurate.
One writer suggests that the bike bridge will encourage more biking by families, and elderly…this is very similar to the comments voiced by Bill Hoffman of PDOT in an Oregonian article. There are very few families in the NW and Pearl…and few elderly in this city ride anywhere. That is a noble and hopefully attainable goal…but I don\’t think this is the bridge to that future.
I think there may be some agreement that this bridge is not a beauty. But that does not mean the alternative is a lifeless slab of concrete…again read what I said…competition, technology and art, local creative community…do I need to quote myself? YES, much has been lost…I suggest one stops by the regional section of Powells Books and look at \”Heritage Lost\”, Nineteenth Street\”, The Classic Houses of Portland\”…look up the work of Minor White….walk around NW especially 19th street and wonder about the Victorian mansions that once graced that street…or the iron fronts that once lined Front, 1st and 2nd….Thinking about what has been lost is very sad…I have seen alot of it come down…an protested as vigorously as I do here…But this Sauvie Island bridge is neither cool, nor beautiful or interesting. (all in the eye of the beholder). Saving great or even good architecture and infrastructure is a very important value…but I think Portland can do better than recycle its trash in this way.
If one really wants to take on a design challenge and rally against banal concrete spans, one should oppose the proposed I-5 bridge.
Thanks for reading
train for cross!
Burr: I don\’t think the circles imply \”Bike Boulevard\”. I think the circles are used on any designated bike route, as in the ones that show up on the \”Bike There\” map and the like…
I think more of a replacement to the old bike route signs that used to be around.
But I could be wrong…
This is not a personal attack, but Curt Dewees and Jessica Roberts, come on, as someone who knows both of you well, please don\’t disdain your reputation by being Portland Mercury followers – that just about makes me want to vomit, as much as I like both of you
Potestio, You might consider cutting back on the wine. Maybe you could divert some of that energy towards getting city hall to provide specifics in terms of illustration and cost estimate for the concrete version of the Flanders span that some people seem to think will be so much better and so much more fiscally responsible than using the Sauvie Island Bridge span at Flanders St.
Real productive Bob. This gentleman has obviously put more thought to this issue than any of us. Including Jonathan.
I do not agree with everything he says, but he certainly deserves more respect than he is being shown.
Hello all, This is all I am going to say…I am going for a bike ride.
John\’s point (44) illustrates mine. There is a lot that needs to happen…maps, street markings, terminology and the like are not consistent, and not complete. Bike lanes only cover 5-6 block portions of Everett and Glisan and do not even extend to those on Broadway…We have planning and work to do to complete the system we have started and I think that should be the priority.
I would like to revisit the bigger picture. I ride the Everett-Glisan-Flanders corridor every day. I ride all over town. Compared to other parts of this city, my corridor is not heavily used…its no Hawthorne, no NE/SE 28th. The bulk of residential and businesses, now and in the future lies north, and is better served by other streets nearer these concentrations of activity. So while it would be great to have all streets bike dedicated, I think we need to be clear about the priorities.
There has been alot of call out for a less selfish view of this matter…GREAT…lets not focus on just bikes, lets see how we as cyclists need to interact and coordinate with other public street users….Trolleys for example are probably better suited to the elderly than bikes…
Because we have not done the coordinated planning necessary to really address all citizens needs, because organizations/efforts supporting varied modes like rail (the trolley in particular) pedestrian, bike, and auto/freight are not communicating well enough with each other,because there is not a coordinated planning effort led by the Planning Bureau, we are ending up with current and potential conflicts that could be avoided….for example….consider the Trolley line on Lovejoy. It would have been fine on another street…since it does not cross the river, it did not need to be on Lovejoy–which connects to the Broadway Bridge. Bikes do cross the river, and Lovejoy would have been the logical street to serve for bike lanes, boulevards or whatever you want to call them.
Similar concerns regarding the potential conflicts in choices of streets for trolleys and bikes on the east side are being voiced now…
Regarding our lost heritage, had Portland retained its original trolley routes, once amongst the most extensive in the country, our discussion of bike routes would be very different, and our carbon footprint far lower.
Had we retained our trolley system, walking to it and from it, all our citizens would likely be healthier and happier.
We have done a fine job of saving scores of bungalows in our old neighborhoods…but the communities that inhabited them, that filled the schools and trolleys, supported the local business, have all gone…as families have shrunk from prewar sizes to the average size today, so has the population, and hence the density, of these neighborhoods. As the population has dropped across inner east side in particular, we have lost the infrastructure and services it supported. Look at the trolley tracks that emerge from the asphalt. Look at the empty schools.
Its not enough to save the artifacts of an earlier time (Sauvie Island Bridges, old houses, empty school buildings)..it is also important to understand their reason for being, the context in which they were created. What we need to restore is the community.
I firmly believe that the Flanders bike project is an outgrowth not of need per se along its route, but as an aspect of the Burnside-Couch Couplet (I have a 2005 draft report in front of me)…As I have stated, the real issue is not what the city can do for cyclists on Flanders, but what it will do to the heart of our city on Burnside, Couch, Sandy and the neighborhoods that border these streets.
I fear that by focusing on the bike bridge, we are losing sight of larger and more critical issues. I do not think, as I have said, that any one of the Mercury reading, Le Pigeon eating, Stumptown drinking, bike riding, Portland enthusiasts (or anyone else) that read and write in this blog realize or will patronize the future Bridgport Village makeover that is headed our central city way.
I want to see our city develop in a way that is really progressive….I have seen how cities in Europe are creating car free zones, installing bike share facilities, hiring the most talented (not the most connected, hence the competition system) architects and designers to create incredibly beautiful infrastructure…bike and ped bridges (see Calatrava, Paris ped Bridge, London ped Bridge) rail stations, (London, all of Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland).
I think Portland can and should do better and should be aware that \”being Portland\” is a higher value than what this project represents. There was a day when Portland was world famous for its transit system. There was a day when buildings such as the iron fronts and victorians, the modernist icons of the Commonweath Building, Memorial Coloseum, Yeon Visitor Center, St.Thomas More Church, and so many others were known world wide…lets pick up and head where that Portland was going.
Potestio (#48) –
I\’ve read your full comments and what I draw from them is that you seem to be against doing anything unless it is the perfect something. Unfortunately, that sounds like a recipe for paralysis or an excuse for inaction.
The Sauvie bridge project is planned, funded and ready to go. It slots right into a larger neighborhood plan. We can actually get something done right now, and it disheartens me that you (and others) are demanding a return to the drawing board armed only with conjecture and opinion. At this late date, despite your claims to support cycling in the neighborhood, I don\’t think you\’re helping much.
This project is a textbook example of \”plan for tomorrow, build for today.\”
One thing this brouhaha has brought to the surface is that while there have been extensive (and wonderful) bike improvements in the central city, NW and eastside… SW Portland has received very little. Most neighborhoods don\’t even have sidewalks.
There is an effort now to create local improvement districts… but many residents are understandably miffed that they are being asked to pay $1000 each just to get basic infrastructure that other neighborhoods have had for decades.
Now would be a good time for Adams and other boosters of bike infrastructure to announce how they\’ll invest in SW, too.
And don\’t get me started on the $40 million investment planned spending on rebuilding the I-5 north offramp to serve South Waterfront.