Support BikePortland

Flanders crossing update: Shifting criticisms and a report from City Council

Posted by on April 30th, 2008 at 9:59 am

[Update: Download the presentation given by Commissioner Adams today at City Council (6MB, PDF)…or watch it on YouTube.]

Adams making his case to City Council.
(Bad phone photo)

City Council is poised to hear an ordinance this morning that will authorize PDOT to “enter into a contract with Max J. Kuney Construction, owner of the old Sauvie Island Bridge, to rehabilitate, relocate and acquire the old Sauvie Island Bridge center span for the purpose of moving it to NW Flanders St over I-405.”

I’ll start with a brief update on the project followed by some live reporting (below) once the proceedings begin.

Following the official announcement last week that Commissioners Sam Adams, Randy Leonard, and Dan Salztman had come to an agreement on how to move the project forward (and thus assuring a majority vote on Council), criticism about the project has continued from fronts old and new.

A slide from a presentation given by Commissioner Adams today
(Download full report here – 6MB, PDF)

Since it seems clear that the Sauvie span will be re-used (versus building a new bridge), arguments against the project have shifted to whether or not Portland needs a bridge at that location at all. The criticisms now seem to be focused on how this new bridge stacks up against other priorities.

Mayor Tom Potter has dug in with his opposition to the plan by releasing a statement on his website and penning an editorial in the Oregonian titled, It’s not about bridges — it’s about fairness.

City Council hopeful Amanda Fritz — who many would consider a bike-friendly candidate — has also raised skepticisms about the project. In a blog post (and also in response to a question at the Candidates Gone Wild event) she has taken Mayor Potter’s line of fiscal responsibility for questioning the idea. On her blog Fritz wrote, “I believe Portlanders who live in areas with few sidewalks, bike lanes, or paved streets, deserve basic urban services first.”

Local blogger Jack Bogdanski has raised questions about how PDOT will manage the traffic engineering considerations (like new traffic signals at Flanders) raised by the installation of a new bridge. Read his post and take note of my comments in response at the end.

On the fundraising front, over 120 people showed up to the Pinot Pedal last weekend. NW Portland business owner Jeremy Saville helped put on the event as a fundraiser for the Flanders Crossing project and he said they raised $3,000 from the event. That would go with several other checks that have been written by other local businesses… More on the private fundraising situation later… the proceedings on the ordinance are starting right now…(refresh page for updates).

==========

Flanders Crossing Project at City Council

Commissioner Adams will present a powerpoint on the project (download Adam’s presentation (6MB, PDF)). He’s speaking now and several large posterboards have been set up.

Amy Ruiz from the Portland Mercury has put Adams’ presentation on YouTube. Watch it below:

“I’m here with another non-controversial, low-profile project. [everyone laughs.] Since becoming Transportation Commissioner my pet project has been to save lives. The system is unsafe because it has been vastlu underfunded. There are some who object other project… based on fairness and equity… fairness and equity are things I have to deal with everyday.. it is a gruesome task for the City Council where we have to decide where to make investments not where people are being killed and injured, but hwere the most people are being killed or injured.

I assume the objections are made with good intentions and a desire to make fact-based spending decisions…

Based on statements I have read and/or watched in the media I would have objected to this project as well.

Adams is now giving a slide presentation. Download it here (6mb PDF).

The Frequently Asked Questions section of his presentation was interesting. Here are a few of them:

“Isn’t Council considering asking voters to approve a $450 million fee to pay for basic maintenance for our crumbling streets?”

•An important part of the Safe, Sound and Green Streets proposal are vital safety improvements. Like the Flanders Crossing Project, the SSGS proposal will save lives.
•Portland’s maintenance backlog is significant and grows by $9 million every year due to inflation alone.

====

“Don’t our transportation priorities start in East Portland?”

Most of PDOT’s One-Time General Fund Safety Projects are east of 72nd, Powell and Foster.

•76% of One-time funds for high crash locations
•73% of One-time funds for pedestrian safety projects 4 of 5
new red light cameras east of 82nd
•$1.5 million spent on signal safety project on 122nd
•100% of one-time funds for ADA curb ramps

===

Why do you spend so much money on bikes?

•0.7% of PDOT’s capital budget is for cycling improvements.
•6% of Portlanders use bikes as primary commute vehicle. Another 10% cycle as their secondary commute.
•The payoff is huge for public health, air quality, traffic congestion and the civic pocketbook.

===

“If crossing at Everett or Glisan isn’t good, why can’t cyclists and pedestrians just cross underneath the freeway at Johnson?”

For someone walking or bicycling on Glisan or Everett, using Johnson would mean traveling an extra six to ten blocks. They don’t do it now and they won’t do it in the future.

Crash data from Burnside, Everett and Glisan show that cyclists are more likely to stay on the high conflict streets rather than divert to other streets.

For cycling and walking to be effective modes of transportation, it has to be convenient, intuitive and safe.

===

Presentation is over and now questions are coming into Adams from Council.

Saltzman asks Adams about funding sources.
–Adams says PDC’s $2 million will be decided by May 23rd and that “We won’t be starting any work on this until all the money is in hand.”

Potter asks about funding as well.
“At this point I see no private funding coming through”… and he says he thinks it’s inaccurate that Adams has claimed the PDC money and the SDC money can’t be spent in other places.
–Adams tells Potter that he approved twice a list of SDCs that had this project on it. As for PDC Urban Renewal funding, Adams says the Council would have .. As for private fundraising…”We’ve never relied on significant private fundraising in our thinking on our project…we will using private fundraising only to install lighting on the bridge.” He mentioned how they’ve always considered the fact that the River District prioritized the project for funding as a sign of private fundraising.

=====
Now the public testimony has started.

Scott Bricker (BTA Exec. Director)
– He mentions that the Transportation Enhancement money ($1 million from ODOT) is from a special, discretionary pot that is only used for time-sensitive, historic, iconic projects like this one.

Patricia Gardner (NW Neighborhood Associaition).
-We’ve been voting for a crossing at Flanders since 2002…we’re up to four votes for this in the past two years. We’ve been pushing really hard to get this to happen. It’s a bigger vision. She says when people move to the Pearl people sell their cars and start biking and walking and “we need to make that experience better”.

Catherine Ciarlo (former BTA head honcho — was on Burnside-Couch committee when the Flanders Crossing was first promised)
– She is talking about how the bridge will connect the city. “The central city belongs to all of us… we’d like to visit it by foot and by bike.”

Susie Kubota (Aunt of Tracey Sparling)
– She is directing her testimony directly to Mayor Tom Potter based on his editorial in the Oregonian. She drove out to NE Cully to see the infamous stretch of sidewalk that Potter has referred to. She said his comments in the Oregonian were misleading.

Nelson Abeels (NW Portland business owner for 16 years)
– He is testifying in support of the bridge. Says the idea came from the community. “We will raise money, we will raise funds once this project gets going. There are many businesses ready to give money to this project.”

Jeanne Harrison (Willamette Pedestrian Coaltion)
-In support of the project

James Lee (running for Mayor)
– He opposes the project
– Requests that this ordinance be withdrawn because Kuney has given no warranty that the bridge is structurally safe. Says the bridge won’t meet seismic standards… “You don’t know what Kuney is giving us.” Withdraw project until project plans have been laid out in a report so citizens can form a judgment on the project.

John Reinhold (SE Portland resident)
– In support of the project.
– There are thousands of children and schools, churches, and parks directly West of this location… He thinks it’s “disingenuous” to say we shouldn’t do this project to build sidewalks for East Portland

Terry Parker (citizen activist)
– Opposed to the project
– (He’s talking very fast) “Using backroom deals for a special-interest transport frill.” “Bicycle safety must start with the bicyclists themselves that should start with an attitude change”…”Pearl district developers want this bridge”… “Freeloading bicycle community should pay for it.”

Chris Wirth (East Portland resident)
– He opposes the project. In theory he supports the idea, but worries that disparities will continue in East Portland.

Dorothy Gage (Community activist)
– She’s opposed to the process.
– This is reminiscent to me of the Tram travesty. She wants Council to go back to the drawing board.

MaryAnne Fitzgerald (SW Portland resident)
– She is opposed to the project because SW has priorities too.

Mary Roberts (NW 10th and Johnson resident)
– In support of the project.

Jeremy Grand (SW resident)
– Opposes it…not because it’s a bad project, but because there are other priorities he wants in SW Portland.

Rick Potestio (a biker, walker, founder of Cross Crusade cyclocross racing series and SW resident)
– He opposes the project.
– “Given, all we must do to build on our Platinum cycling rating… I question why this project has received such priority.” He doesn’t feel Flanders is a vital link between the neighborhoods. He brings up the traffic engineering implications of a new intersection at Flanders…Instead of Flanders, he wants improvements on Everett and Glisan.

Doug Strickler
– Supports the project.

SW Portland resident
– Opposes the project based on other needs in SW Portland.

===

Testimony is over. Now Leonard is making a comment:

Leonard says listened to the Platinum news on OPB today and thought it was sad because today is a day we should be celebrating making a statement about.

“I view this project as not an east Portland versus West Portland, or not an all-Portland vs. the Pearl, but rather a piece of a complicated, complex infrastrcuture that will create byways and throughways for bicyclists. No one can out East-Portland me…I grew up in East Portland. I knew what the transportation problems are in east Portland.

Some may accuse me for being cynical for this…but I suggest we’re having this division [in our city] because of politics…I learned it is really easy to galvanize people by speaking to their fears and to their suspicions. It is not responsible in my view to do so. That is the context I have viewed this debate.

This debate should be a unifier in our community, not dividing East Portland and SE Portland from the Pearl in order to make political points. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and we all deserve better.”

Saltzman is now speaking.
He is curious about the seismic warranty issue brought up a testifier. A PDOT engineer is testifying and reports that there are no structural flaws found in the bridge. The bridge is in “very good condition”. “The seismic issue has been addressed as well.”

Saltzman: Does that inspection equal a warranty?
PDOT engineer: “No it does not. We will look into that.”

Adams closes:

“As Transportation commissioner I’m trying to instill a more disciplined approach to dealing with needs around the city. All of the investments are intended to make the system safer…when they do get safer we can move down the list. We will always have a list, we will always be working on it. When SW Portland needed something, I fought for it, when East Portland needed something I fought for it. You could point to any of those projects and argue that another part of town wasn’t getting their fair share.”

That’s it for today.

This was the “first reading” of the ordinance and it will be voted on next week (5/7). Stay tuned.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

94
Leave a Reply

avatar
94 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
38 Comment authors
a.Oralphpeejaywsbobjohn Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
specialK
Guest
specialK

As supportive of bike infrastructure as I am, and normally I am supportive of all of the new bikey stuff that is proposed for Portland, I simply don\’t follow the logic of this proposal.

1) There are 3 crossings, one very easy and away from highway traffic, on Johnson, within 4 blocks of this site.

2) Putting a crossing, and therefore signal, in between the Couch/Everett on/off ramps will only increase traffic congestion in that area during rush hour.

3) There are far more needed bikey things I can think of. As a NW resident, my biggest wish has always been better bike access to the waterfront from NW. Others have already brought up many other things that might be better usage of the money.

Again, usually I am supportive of these proposals, but this one simply doesn\’t make sense to me.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The answer to the \”priorities\” is:
Get serious about filling the gaps in bike & ped facilities throughout the area.

The answer to the question about whether it\’s fair to use some city resources to help with the Flanders bridge, while the city is telling SW Portland residents that if they want sidewalks, they\’ll have to pay 100% of the cost out of their own pockets… is NOT to pit one group against the other, but to demand that every part of the city be brought up to minimum standards.

Those who strongly support the Flanders bridge… and especially those who will directly benefit from it… can do the most good by re-doubling their efforts to help the neighborhoods that have so far seen little or no public investment in bike or ped facilities.

Build alliances. Don\’t let those who oppose bike investments use the Flanders bridge to divide us.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Thank you Andrew. Why not support this bike enhancement and continue to advocate for the other improvements that are so readily needed.

jake
Guest
jake

I\’m w/ specialK on this one. I\’m all for more bike related infrastructure and like the idea of reusing the bridge, but what about crossing I84 in NE? I feel like this has been fast-tracked and will sail through because it\’s bike related. Just because we can do something doesn\’t mean we should do something.

jake
Guest
jake

Oh, and it looks like I missed this post from Jack Bog\’s Blog. He\’s got a pretty good discussion of the flow of traffic in the area.

http://bojack.org/2008/04/when_the_bikes_show_up_on_flan.html

Matt Picio
Guest

specialK (#1) – it\’s interesting that you bring that up, since the Flanders bike boulevard will create a straight-shot almost all the way to the waterfront, on low-traffic streets. Since the Burnside/Couch Couplet project will eliminate Couch as a viable route, there are strong reasons why the Flanders corridor needs to be improved for casual, recreational, and inexperienced cyclists.

As for congestion, how would improving the existing bridges at Everett and Glisan for pedestrians and bikes clear that up? The bridges cannot be widened (federal law), so any increase in bike/ped amenities requires the loss of an automotive lane, which (in theory) would increase congestion.

Actually, in practice, congestion will be largely unaffected by any of these options – congestion in the urban core is almost solely dependent on population and density – the road network only becomes a factor when there are a limited number of \”nearby\” connections for traffic to divert onto.

Matt Picio
Guest

jake (#4) What *about* crossing I-84 in NE? There\’s MLK, Grand, 11th, 20th, 28th, 33rd, 39th, Hollywood Overpass (41st), 47th, 53rd, 60th, Halsey, 74th, Halsey again, and 82nd. That\’s 15 crossings in 4 miles. Or did you mean outer NE I-84, which does need more connections?

Most of inner NE has accessible crossings over I-84. Some need improvement. NE 7th may be getting a bike/ped bridge in the future. (and I\’m strongly advocating that one, on the pedestrian side)

Russell
Guest
Russell

Jack Bog doesn\’t provide anything really informative in his discussion. In fact, his discussion is pretty short-sighted.

First off, lets look at 16th. Traffic exiting I-405 onto 16th and Glisan are directed to go straight to Everett and circle the block to head west on Glisan NOT to rush across two lanes of traffic AND a bike lane to turn right onto Flanders. This could easily be re-engineered here by putting in a light for exiting freeway traffic that allows them to turn left on Glisan while holding 16th through traffic. A second light placed at Flanders, especially if it is controlled by pressure pads and a crosswalk button, won\’t affect traffic in a major way.

At 14th there won\’t really be any issue if you put in a similar light to the one I suggest on 16th.

Really the bulk of his article is about how drivers perform risky maneuvers \”It\’s a dangerous maneuver a lot of the time, particularly if the light at Glisan was green and merging cars are moving at a good clip.\” \”The light up ahead at Glisan is particularly obnoxious, and some drivers have been known to hustle through that stretch to try to catch it on the green:\” In the end he brings the whole debate to a basic one of \”cyclists want it there way, but motorists we want it our way.\”

Jack Bog seems to be only concerned about making sure that drivers are able to travel quickly, dangerously, and without regard to other individuals. I ride this area a lot and drive it frequently as well (since the majority of my driving is to go out of town I\’m usually using one of these freeway on-/off-ramps). I see drivers constantly acting dangerously and disrespectfully in this area and a little bit more traffic calming is in order.

GG
Guest
GG

specialK – Indeed the biggest reason I\’d like to see the bridge happen, is that it would jumpstart the Flanders bike boulevard, which will eventually provide a safe convenient connection from NW to the waterfront.

While it\’s easy to jog over to Johnson by bike, it\’s not as practical to walk 8 blocks out of the way. The crossing would re-connect a neighborhood divided by freeway – always a good thing.

specialK
Guest
specialK

I\’m all for a Flanders bike boulevard, but feel like connecting to the river should be where it starts. And why can\’t we jog over to Johnson for some of the boulevard? It\’s really nicely suited for that. I like the idea of a straight shot, but don\’t see it as practical.

A civil discussion on the interwebs. Whod\’a thunk.

baheuh
Guest
baheuh

I\’d be willing to be Terry Parker that I pay more in taxes than he does…

misinformed to say the least…

I still don\’t like the bridge project though..and I commute daily!!

KG
Guest
KG

No to the bridge

a.O
Guest
a.O

What Russell said (#8).

J-On-Bike
Guest
J-On-Bike

#8 – Russell

If drivers tend to be particularly heedless/reckless at these interesctions…should bicycles be added into the mix?

Will the traffic calming measures be adequate to change driver behaviour and provide a level of safety to cyclists (who can also be reckless, at times)?

kg
Guest
kg

I will happily pay for the Flanders crossing. Just take my share out of the CRC project.

foote
Guest
foote

So, because drivers are particularly irresponsible around a couple of intersections, we should plan our transportation around them? Bikes should just avoid the whole mess?

Shouldn\’t we be more interested in making the area a bit safer for cyclists? #8 and 14, and Jack\’s blog for that matter, make an excellent case for a major traffic redesign in this part of town. It\’s already dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians, and apparently drivers too. Clearly, these intersections are a high priority.

Russell
Guest
Russell

J-On-Bike #13 –

I don\’t know if a light will be adequate, we might need a speed hump there or some other form of traffic calming. Maybe the other intersections require a little bit of re-engineering (as I stated in #8 and think would be quite effective along NW 16th). I\’m not 100% sure what will be needed. I do believe that, with some ingenuity and determination, traffic can be calmed in that area. I think that the argument \’drivers here are reckless do not build\’ is ludicrous. Find a way to make people less reckless, whether through infrastructure, enforcement, or education.

john
Guest
john

I love how Randy says those opposed to the projects are divisive … while he is supporting a project that did not need to be brought up under emergency provisions … which is now being sold as a competitive contract even though 4 million is going to a non-competitive bid … that will benefit an area of town that already receives the vast bulk of city attention and dollars.

Randy may remember what East Portland was like 20 years ago, but he\’s no longer an East Portlander. He bought into the power structure years ago.

Divisiveness is a complete red herring. They\’ve created the divisiveness.

This is the wrong project, the wrong process, and at the wrong time.

Kris
Guest
Kris

#10 – specialK

Why not shooting for both Flanders and Johnson? Over time, there could be plenty of cyclist/ped growth in the NW/Pearl to warrant two bike boulevards connecting the neighborhoods with each other and the waterfront.

Russell
Guest
Russell

john – do not confuse development of buildings with proper development of transportation infrastructure. There is a complete paucity of cycling and pedestrian development in NW Portland, especially west of 14th (cycling infrastructure is scarce throughout the NW, Pedestrian is better east of 15th). People seem to equate the NW as \”the Pearl.\” There are blocks between 14th and 23rd Ave where a much more economically diverse group of individuals live. Pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure greatly improves their lives, not just the Pearlites. To say that the NW \”receives the vast bulk of city attention and dollars\” is false. To say the Pearl has received too much attention may very well be true.

Zaphod
Guest

This project is a one in a million lucky deal where a bridge that will fit is available. A fair comparison for a similarly sized bridge is 7-9 million. A narrower bridge would be beyond capacity on day one. The urgency is because once it is gone, it\’s gone.

This bridge will improve safety and do the things that Sam\’s presentation indicates.

Investment is leveraged at the city core because of density. It seems that we\’re appropriately spending at the rivers versus the tributaries. And, as I understand it, we have spent money there too.

We should improve facilities East of 82nd as well. This has been cast as an either/or & I think that\’s incorrect.

J-On-Bike
Guest
J-On-Bike

Russell:
I think that the argument \’drivers here are reckless do not build\’ is ludicrous.

My questions (not an argument) are as follows: Will this project, even with the best of traffic engineering solutions in place, create safety/efficiency conditions that are unacceptable to cyclists/drivers? Why do we not know this information right now when a contract is about to be issued?

#16. I don\’t ride on Burnside for that very reason. I\’d rather avoid the whole car mess. But if others choose to, that\’s fine.

Does it make sense to BUILD a cyclist pedestrian bridge that has to deal with a car-mess on 14th and 16th? I don\’t think so..but that\’s just my opinion.

A responsible planning approach would suggest that we (the public) know exactly what the trade-offs are before committing $4M+ to build. If this project has been proposed and on some project list for years…it would be great to see the data/info. Not just some powerpoint.

Russell
Guest
Russell

J-On-Bike – I agree that we should, at times, avoid the car mess. You will never catch me riding the vast majority of Burnside, although further out I might consider it. I also did not mean to say that you were arguing the above mentioned point, but that Jack Bog seemed to argue that.

I strongly believe that the area can be redesigned to be safe for pedestrians and cyclists. In terms of why hasn\’t the research been done, my understanding is this: Before investing a few thousand into the full planning they want to make sure the project is a go. Once it has a green light they\’ll do the research, if it turns out that it absolutely will not work then they can still pull the plug. I don\’t think that once this is approved they\’ll just hand Kuney $3.9m and say if we actually don\’t do this, please, keep the money. Anyways, correct me if I\’m wrong.

Lenny Anderson
Guest

The best solution is to tear out all the freeways and restore all the destroyed neighborhoods…Goose Hollow, South Portland, Albina, East Portland waterfront. But until that happens, the more bridges over the monsters the better.
Bike \”Boulevards\” are meaningless talk unless you address the gaps. Gaps are expensive or else they would not be there. A Platinum bike city can do no less than to fill the gaps.

baheuh
Guest
baheuh

HAVE ANY CHEAPER BRIDGE ALTERNATIVES BEEN OFFERED?

has anyone even bothered looking into that proposition, along with an entire redesign of traffic flow in that area?

all I hear is that it is this particular chunk of steel or nothing and the sky is falling…seems a bit special \”interest-y\” to me…

Daniel (teknotus) Johnson
Guest
Daniel (teknotus) Johnson

#25

It actually is this particular chunck of steel, or nothing. Nearly 100% of the cost difference between this bridge, and a crappy concrete one is money that can only be spent to preserve historic structures. So because this bridge is old we get a bunch more money. Because this bridge needs to be moved soon we get it now instead of \”maybe eventually\”. Because this bridge is already built we get a bridge that is twice as wide as the highway code currently specifies without a lot of hard work to get a waiver on the rules.

There are a lot of wins, and the only honest concerns I have seen are the ones Dan Saltzman has brought up about risk of cost overruns, or lack of warrenty. Take care of that, and it\’s just good all around. Visit the sites, and watch how people nearly get hit by cars over, and over again. Read all the facts. Take time to understand them, and you will almost certainly be convinced.

It took a while to convince me, but I\’m convinced completely now.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

It\’s sad that we\’re bickering about a project that would cost about one-tenth of one percent (0.001) of the ballpark (probably low-ball) guesstimate of the Columbia River Crossing.

It\’s true that many neighborhoods, hungry for any scraps of bike/ped improvement, are screaming \”Why do they get a bridge, when can\’t even get a sidewalk?!\”

But take a look at the big picture. Who is feasting… and who is fighting just to lick the spoon?

It\’s a tried-and-true strategy for those who have it all to get those who don\’t to squabble amongst themselves.

The framing needs to shift… away from Flanders vs. other neighborhoods… to a saner balance of spending that recognizes the vital needs for bike and ped infrastructure all over town.

Did you know ODOT plans to spend $40-million dollars to re-work one I-5 exit ramp for the convenience of drivers going to South Waterfront?

Go after the big piece of the budget pie… spending on motor vehicle lanes.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Excellent point, Andrew.

I\’ve often wondered if those folks who (rightly) want their sidewalks are asking what the hell Mayor Potter has been doing for the last few years.

Spencer
Guest
Spencer

Where did the projected use figures for a new bridge come from? (800 currently, up to 2400 to 4500) This is a big promise.

Has anyone talked about the shape of the bike boulevard along flanders. Is thru traffic going to be restricted? How? Will there be limited traffic through the heart of the Pearl? How will cars and trucks be discouraged from being on these streets? What about vehicle parking along the boulevard. Will it be restricted?

So mouch of the focus has been on the bridge and not the boulevard.

Russell
Guest
Russell

baheuh – yes, alternatives have been offered, but as it has been stated numerous times those alternatives would not be put into place for about 5 years. During the past 4 years construction costs increased 40%. Economists at the Association of General Contractors of America (AGC) speculate that we will see an even greater rise in construction costs over the next few years. If you run the past four years forward for 5 years (inflation rate of 8.7% per year) you\’ll find that you are quickly pay the same amount for a smaller bridge. This is a debate that has occurred ad nauseam.

Excellent point Andrew #27, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Someone else made the point of talking about an expensive automobile bridge project that recently went in somewhere on the east side or an upgrade that cost a significant amount of money. I find even the new Sauvie Island bridge an interesting topic, which is costing over $30m and services a very select few individuals. I will, however, point out a few factors that you\’ll find people arguing against your point though (that I do not agree with):

#1 – Classic Terry Parker: we\’re \”free-loading\” cyclists who don\’t pay for anything. Albeit this completely ignores the fact that registration/licensing fees are a tiny percentage of the roadway budget and that the gas tax is mainly for highways and freeways and still does not account for the lion\’s share of road creation/repairs.

#2 – There are more motorists than bicyclists. This, however, ignores the fact that everyone is a pedestrian and many bicycle improvements can help pedestrians as well. This also ignores the fact that, even though motorists do make up a greater percentage of the mode share, they receive a disproportionately greater amount of funding.

Ian Stude
Guest
Ian Stude

Good points, Andrew and Daniel. I see no point in bickering over the scraps, as it were. For what will be delivered, this project is a DEAL!

We need to build this crossing. We need to build sidewalks. We need to improve infrastructure all over our city. And we will. Vote for Safe, Sound, and Green streets in November. We should stop bickering about who\’s project should be at the head of the line. They are all important and we should demand that they ALL happen. To do otherwise is to play into the hands of divisive politics that would likely leave us all with nothing better then when we started.

2GOAT
Guest
2GOAT

Ah, Spencer thanks for the easy question
PDOT has a page with a number of links for you to learn about Bike Boulevards.
http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=186687
I\’ve tried to find more specifics on the Safe, sound and Green streets site but they seem to have restricted access.

John Reinhold
Guest
John Reinhold

Sidewalks are and have always been the responsibility of the property owners. The only reason there are areas without sidewalks is because the builders at the time were not required to put them in.

The city does not just build sidewalks willy nilly. If the sidewalks in front of my house need repair, guess who pays to repair them? Yes. I do.

The only time – as far as I know – that the city actually pays for sidewalk work is if the city itself initiates the modifications or work to meet city needs – but even in most of those situations, the property owners will be charged a percentage of the cost.

And for the SW residents to complain is rather troublesome in some regards. It is very hard to compare SW to other neighborhoods because the topography of SW combined with federal regulations about ADA compliance for pedestrian facilities makes sidewalks and other improvements to SW roads extremely expensive. Extremely. The hills and creeks which make it so dangerous and difficult to walk of ride also make it extremely expensive to widen roads to add bike/ped facilities and reduce pedestrian grading…

As Sam Adams pointed out, it is very difficult to decide where to spend money, and there are a lot of deserving projects. You have to to for bang-for-the buck. Where are the most people in the most need?

Everyone thinks they can do better. Let me give you $20 and ask you to buy shoes for 40 people, while each person has a good reason why they need shoes the most. That is what we ask of government.

Every critic here, and all of those SW residents too, should take the PSU Portland traffic and transportation class that is sponsored by the city. It is a great class, and helps teach people the what\’s why\’s and hows.

Like Earl Blumenaeur said about why he created the class, \”everyone with a drivers license thinks they are a certified traffic engineer and that they can do better\”.

Well, go do better!

Just remember when a project comes up in your neighborhood that there may be folks from other neighborhoods opposing it and with good intentions to boot!

Jonathon, we need a \”preview\” button. Posting this from my phone, I am sure I have made tons of typing and grammar errors….

Brad
Guest
Brad

The links on bike boulevards are essentially useless. Lots of pretty pictures of traffic calming devices but nothing to really answer Spencer\’s question.

I work in the Pearl, ride to it most days, and walk it frequently. I cannot picture how Flanders will be turned into a bike boulevard without serious disruptions to heavily traveled north-south streets. In business \”unfriendly\” Portland, I can\’t see the city council willing to anger Pearl business owners and condo dwellers by restricting their ability to travel as they please or drive to thir favorite hipster gallery or trendster eatery.

Oh yes, the CRC arguments are of no relevance. The CRC is not just a new freeway bridge. It is a $4.2 billion dollar roadway improvement, commerce stimulator, union jobs creating, tax revenue producing public works juggernaut of pork. Both parties have vested interests and it will not be stopped. Hence, why you don\’t see Sideshow Sam or any other elected officials saying a word about it.

It is obvious that most BikePortland posters are anti-car. Fair enough. I would venture however that cars are not going away in our lifetimes. When gas prices get higher the auto industy won\’t roll over and die. It will, out of necessity, produce a greater range of hybrid, electric, hydrogen, natural gas, and other fueled vehicles. The utopian dream of car free streets is just that – a dream. I also don\’t expect big oil to go quietly either. They will switch to altrnative fuels and coal gasification once those can be produced and sold at the same price as oil derived gasoline.

So I ask, where is the proof that this $5 million dollar bridge will visibly improve traffic flow for cars and bikes, make biking safer beyond the span, and encourage thousands more commuters from th most affluent area of Portland to swap the Lexus for a Litespeed?

2GOAT
Guest
2GOAT

Well Brad,
Maybe you will accept this approach.

Bridge or no bridge.

I spend more time in my car than I do on a bike.

With gasoline rapidly approaching $4.00 a gallon and no reason to believe it will ever decrease, I want to do everything and anything I can to keep from idling around in my car. This means getting other cars off the road so I can keep driving.

The more cars drivers I can convince to ride a bike, take the bus, or even walk a little, the less space will be obstructed before my car and the car in front of me.

If I can get just that one driver in front of me to think it’s safer and easier to ride his or her bike…that’s one less car for me to have to pass. It’s one less car using up my gas and driving up the price. It’s one less car taking up my parking space downtown so I don’t have to walk too far.

I am going to do anything I can to get more people out of their cars so I can get around in mine.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I like the fact that Spencer is, and hopefully everyone else will also, think about the boulevard as well as the bridge. A few other people have raised the question of how traffic will be dealt with on the west side of Flanders at I-405. How will a signal there effect bike-pedestrian flow from Flanders and motor traffic on 16th? There might even be a better way to deal with the MV traffic.

Spencer\’s question: \”How will cars and trucks be discouraged from being on these streets? \” My own thought there, is that Flander\’s two-way configuration, and the lack of a bridge across the gut(I-405) inherently discourages motor vehicle traffic. Rather,MV\’s want to use Everett or Glisan to zip through that part of town. They\’ll use the other streets to navigate closer to their destination, but not so much as \’through streets\’.

I\’m very supportive of this project. When other cyclists say it\’s a waste of money, that really makes me stop to think. I understand how it might seem to some people like a waste of money, but all things considered….no. I don\’t think it is a waste of money. It\’s important to look to the future, and in the future, that crossing at Flanders for pedestrians and bikes will probably be well appreciated.

It\’s only the limited time availability of the Sauvie span that makes this decision about a Flander\’s crossing critical now. Give that up, and there\’s all the time in the world to look at all the cheaper, newer alternatives, or decide not to have a crossing at all for a Flander\’s. Nobody is trying to be unfair here, or waste a lot of money. A hard decision must be made, one way or another.

Jim Labbe
Guest

I am glad the equity and fairness concerns are getting raised. They are important in measuring the success of Portland in the long-run. However they are getting distorted in this debate.

We cannot look at these fairness and equity in geographic terms alone (as politically appealing as this can be). The Flanders Bridge Crossing is going to serve pedestrians and bicyclists in two of the densest neighborhoods in the state and region. Ask yourself who bikes and walks. Research indicates automobile use measured in vehicle miles traveled increases with wealth and income. Ask yourself who will use this facility? It is as likely to be Chapman elementary school kids, PSU or PNCA college students, and service workers throughout NW Portland neighborhoods, as it is a few affluent residents.

The City is already making investments to address the other dangerous corridors in the City located in East Portland: 82nd Avenue, Foster road, and 122nd Ave. We should continue to make these a high priority, but it is wrong to suggest Flanders Bridge Crossing which would also address safety in a dangerous corridor is an unfair or inequitable use of funds because where it is located. Who will use it is the real issue.

Ultimately, it is an impoverished line of reasoning that pits neighborhoods against each other in making bike and pedestrian improvements because bike and pedestrian facilities are inherently egalitarian investments in our transportation system. The Flanders Bridge crossing is a facility that would be accessible to all including those young, old and disabled who cannot walk or drive.

Jim Labbe

gracie
Guest
gracie

Will someone who knows what they are talking about please explain why the $5.5 mil budgeted for this deal cannot be used for other projects? The proponents keep repeating this information as if it is the gospel truth but I have yet to learn why, and it kind of makes me wonder if it is just wishful thinking. Tom Potter doesn\’t seem to think so, yet whenever anyone makes a statement that this bridge deal might not be a great idea, the proponents get all defensive and state that the money can\’t be used for anything else. End of story. Well- why? Because Sam said so- or what?

Also, in response to Jim (and others) who say that critics are being \”divisive\” and playing neighborhoods against each other – that sounds a lot like the Bush gang accusing its critics of \”class warfare\” when they discuss the impact of the Administrations disastrous economic policies. Just an observation.

Jim Labbe
Guest

gracie,

I am not accusing anyone of \”class warefare\” as you suggest. I am just pointing out that bike and pedestrian improvements serve under-served segments of the public almost anywhere they are installed (especially in dense and populous NW Portland). That\’s why I think pitting one improvement against another is distorting the valid concern for fairness. The way this valid concern for fairness is being invoked in this debate distracting from the real merits of the proposal in serving the under-served.

I agree that the Bush \”administrations disastrous economic [and foreign] policies\” have contributed to the neglect of our transportation system- including our bike and pedestrian infrastructure at the local level. Its certainly plays a role in the shortage of resources to make badly needed safety and efficiency improvements throughout the entire system. We are fighting over crumbs compared to what this affluent society could bring to bear to improve the safety, livability, and affordability of our communities.

Jim

gracie
Guest
gracie

Jim. fair enough, but one does have to question the fairness of the Flanders St. proposal all the same. It pretty much came from nowhere; it was not designated a high priority until Sam and his backers decided to push it – in an election year. Its a nice idea, but not economically feasible in a recession. And one has to wonder about any project that attracts as much groupthink as this one. Even Randy Leonard has swallowed the Kool-Aid! Makes me wonder if he is capable be being an independent voice on the Council, or if he intends to be Sam\’s poodle for the next four years.

jonno
Guest
jonno

@Gracie –

To your funding question:

Around $2m is TIF (tax increment financing) generated by the Pearl urban renewal area. Generally, these funds are spent only in the urban renewal area that they are allocated for, which means transferring them elsewhere is theoretically possible but not simple. I believe Erik Sten was able to do this by setting up a satellite URA for the David Douglas school district, an effort that has drawn much of its own criticism. It is not something that is easily done.

Another $2m comes from SDC (system development charges) and are allocated every 10 years to a list of projects citywide. These funds can actually be spent elsewhere, but since the priorities are already drawn up and have been approved by a large group of agencies from all over the city, shifting the priority is, again, not easily done. Potter has had his whole term to move Cully sidewalks up in the SDC priority list but has not done so. Why?

Another $1m comes from an ODOT grant specifically targeted at iconic redevelopment projects, called Transportation Enhancements. I doubt this can be reallocated for sidewalks, and it was intended for projects exactly like the Sauvie/Flanders bridge.

The remaining $.5m will come from general funds and donated moneys from local businesses and citizens.

So, to be fair, about $2.5m could be redirected elsewhere, at least as far as I understand it. However, it\’s not something that can just be done overnight or on any time frame meaningful to this debate. The SDC allocation groups would have to agree on the redistribution of the bulk of the funds, a process with an unknown outcome and one that Potter\’s had plenty of time to work on so far. But like Jim Labbe says above, to suggest that this bridge is preventing the fixing of Cully sidewalks is distorting the debate. We should not have to fight over the crumbs.

Yes, Cully and other neighborhoods need sidewalks and other improvements. But stopping this bridge will not build them.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”It pretty much came from nowhere; it was not designated a high priority until Sam and his backers decided to push it – in an election year.\”

that is simply not true.

a crossing over Flanders was guaranteed to the community back in 2002 and has been voted on by a majority of Council several times since then.

As for groupthink… I\’d say there\’s actually been a fair amount of opinions in the public discourse on both sides of this issue.

The reason it gained urgency is because of the limited time frame to use the Sauvie Span.

Boo Boo
Guest
Boo Boo

#1–It\’s about the money folks.

Or, as some have written, it\’s an election year and NW Portland has one hell of high per-capita income–probably many times more than Cully or other outer eastside neighborhoods.

Sam, Randy, Dan and other politicians would sure LOVE some big campaign bucks from the upper class, recycled-bridge, feel-good, sustainability-do-da residents of NW Portland.

I\’ve lived in Portland for almost 20 years and have seen the bike improvements and a corresponding increase in bike use.

Think about this. If you lived in outer SE Portland with its unfair lack of funded bike and pedestrian improvements, would you be more likely to bike and walk??? Well, NW Portland may benefit from a bike/ped bridge, but it already has tons more bike-ped improvements than many, many other neighborhoods.

So, please don\’t take the comments of Jim #37 as the gospel. Wouldn\’t you and your kids be more likely to bike/walk to school and the store if you had safe routes! Most outer eastside neighborhoods don\’t have the improvements and safe routes the NW Portland does.

NW Portland and it\’s upper-income residents are getting this attention for a reason…Socio-economic status (MONEY). Sorry, as much as the politico\’s try to spin it otherwise, poorer, less politically-connected neighborhoods get screwed.

Russell
Guest
Russell

boo boo – you just made a boo boo – NW Portland has virtually NO BICYCLE OR PEDESTRIAN IMPROVEMENTS! There are a few paltry bicycle lanes, but most of them are poorly placed (Lovejoy\’s squeezes cyclists between streetcar tracks and parked cars, the lane is maybe 2\’ wide) or short-lived (glisan and everett run for 5 blocks). Secondly, don\’t forget that NW Portland and the Pearl are separate entities. The Pearl is primarily owners of condos. NW Portland as of the 2000 census (this is blocks west of 14th and east of 27th-ish) is 85% rental units, including 6 large-scale low-income housing units and a number of smaller special needs and low-income housing facilities. The blocks west of 14th are not part of the River District Urban Renewal Area and have not received any major redevelopment. No, the area is not crumbling, but also NO the Northwest neighborhood has not received some lion\’s share of funding nor is the Northwest neighborhood some hotbed for wealth. Do not confuse the Pearl with the Northwest Neighborhood.

jonno
Guest
jonno

@Boo-Boo –

I couldn\’t have written a better explanation of the divisive harm caused by the Cully-sidewalks-vs.-Flanders-bridge argument. Now it\’s not just eastside vs. west, it\’s class warfare!

Thank you sir (or ma\’am).

Chad
Guest
Chad

Boo boo,

The spin here is definitely coming from those trying to beat proponents over the head with the latest fairness arguments, including these spurious claims that it is some kind of election year pandering to rich folks.

In recent years, Sam and the BTA have actually led in advocating for and securing both one-time general funds and regional dollars for outer East Portland bike/ped improvements including funding for the 70s bike boulevards and SE Foster, the other high priority corridor:

http://bikeportland.org/2007/01/26/portlands-bike-boulevard-bonanza/

ralph
Guest
ralph

The use of the Sauvie span pretty much came out of nowhere because Kuney needed and answer as to the disposition of the bridge. Sell it to Portland for the 405 crossing or sell it for scrap.

The big issue for me is that we are using Kuney\’s timetable for this project. They are getting a no-bid contract for this job.

The city has not made this an open decision and a single contractor will get the benefit of the lack of a bidding process. We don\’t know if we could get an alternative bridge for less or even if someone else could install the Sauvie span for less.

On top of this the project has been split into two different projects, the bridge installation and the site preparation. One has a locked in cost the other doesn\’t so regardless of what people are quoting on the price of this project we don\’t know the final cost because the site prep project has not been bid or awarded.

This is a recipe for overspending once again. It has been pushed to the front of the line and due diligence has not been applied to the entire process.

Boo Boo
Guest
Boo Boo

Russell #44. Sorry bud, but I\’m not drawing a line of NW vs Pearl. Who cares about rentals versus owners. Perhaps I could/should have written bike/ped facilities versus improvments. NW Portland and Pearl are MUCH more easy to get around by bike/walking. For one, there are acutally sidewalks! (compare that to much of SW, Outer and S/SE neighborhoods without even basic sidewalks. There are more controlled intersections, stop signs, cross walks and traffic lights. Traffic generally moves at a slower pace in NW/Pearl than outer SE (Thus the need for better bike/ped improvements in outer SE).

Boo Boo
Guest
Boo Boo

Jonno #45. Whoa…class warfare? Where did that come from? I pointed out that neighborhoods with a higher socio-economic status get the ear of politicians and $$ more than poorer parts of the city. I\’m not advocating class warfare, just a reality check that funding for city projects is far from fair and equitable.

Sorry to rain on your kumbaya fest, but take a look at our public schools as another example (or even read Kozol\’s \”Savage Inequalities\”). Take a look at access to healthcare, crime, access to parks and more.

Improvements to bike and ped facilities is no exception. One somewhat-helpful, advocacy office in Portland is ONI (office of neighborhood involvement) that at least gives each neighborhood some formal voice in city hall. Some, but by no means equal.

Boo Boo
Guest
Boo Boo

Chad #46. Thanks for the link about past BTA and Sam advocacy. However, I think there is no question that the level of adovocacy and spin to drop a no-bid-contract bridge in the Pearl is FAR FAR more than the blip on the radar BTA and Sam put in for the projets you referenced. Yes, I appreciate their voice of support for past projects.

But, let\’s be clear, there\’s a freakin\’ orgy going on over the sauvie bride \”recycling\”. I\’m afraid BTA and other bike-ped advocates have joined into the hype and should really take some time to reflect on the best use of $$ for this project.

Peace.