Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

New bike/ped bridge over I-5 will connect to South Waterfront

Posted by on May 21st, 2008 at 5:47 pm

The City of Portland is moving forward with their plans to build a new bike and pedestrian bridge over I-5 that will connect the Lair Hill neighborhood with the South Waterfront district near the Aerial Tram.

One of the concepts drawn up for the new Gibbs Street bike/ped bridge.

Project manager Jody Yates says a new survey to gather input on the design has just been posted to the project website (survey closes June 15th).

The bridge is expected to cost about $5 million and it’s being paid for by the Federal Highway Administration. Construction is planned to begin in fall 2009.

The first public open house for the project has also been announced. It will take place on June 25th at Cedarwood School in Southwest Portland.

To take the survey, learn more, or get involved with the design of the bridge, check out GibbsStreetBridge.org.

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. Thank you.

  • Redhippie May 21, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    3 bridges for the price of 1

    New bridge over Hood Ave, I5 and Macadem = $5 million

    Old bridge over I 405 = $5.5 million

    Fuzzy Math?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Scott Mizée May 21, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Very interesting. Thanks for posting.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • travis May 21, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    i\’m sure this bridge will be great, but still, where is the bike/pedestian access connecting north and northeast to northwest. the freemont bridge could most likely handle something like this. or we could get european and put a pontoon bridge in there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt Picio May 22, 2008 at 7:29 am

    travis (#3) – good luck on that one. There\’s not enough bike traffic that far north to justify the cost. Adding a structure on the side (or underneath) the Fremont would not be a pleasant experience for cyclists because of the height, and if it\’s built at road level, the noise.

    I\’m curious how a pontoon bridge would work while still allowing the high volume of river traffic that takes place on the Willamette. (There also may be USCG and regulatory concerns)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • peejay May 22, 2008 at 7:31 am

    I sure hope this isn\’t another federally mandated 15 foot wide route, which, when accounting for handrails, will then be 13 feet wide, and then you gotta give yourself a little buffer so you don\’t get your handlebars caught, so make that 11 feet. Now, let\’s add pedestrians into the mix. You know, the ones incapable of ever walking behind each other even when they hear a bell behind them. But first, let\’s say they learned the single-file trick, so one on each side is probably going to take up another five feet minimum. So, if you\’re ok with a three foot corridor in which to navigate your bike past another bike coming directly at you in their own three foot corridor, great!

    If not, maybe this bridge will be inadequate for the job, much like the \”cheaper, new-construction, concrete bridge that, theoretically might have been $1.5 million cheaper than the Sauvie island bridge\” will be when they get around to building it on Flanders Street sometime in Chelsea Clinton\’s second term.

    But, hey! Any bridge is better than no bridge.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt Picio May 22, 2008 at 7:37 am

    This project has me a bit concerned – with a $5 price tag, that implies a 14\’ span, which isn\’t appropriate for the intended purpose of the bridge. The bridge is to allow connectivity between Lair Hill and the river. Currently, South Waterfront is only accessible via two road entrances and the Willamette Greenway Trail. To be a truly connected neighborhood, they either need to build one or two more bike/ped bridges (and probably a road bridge over I-5), or an extra-wide bridge at Gibbs.

    I\’m also interested in seeing what facilities they\’re going to have at the east end to move bikes and the disabled from ground level to bridge level.

    If you\’re going to the open house on June 25th, ask them the hard questions – if not done right, this bridge could turn out to be effectively useless for its intended purpose.

    I highly doubt they\’re going to be able to build this for $5 million, especially since they\’re going to need at least an elevator on the east end.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • peejay May 22, 2008 at 7:50 am

    I took the survey. When it came to the question about ped/bike bridges I liked, I said:
    I really dig the new NW Flanders Street bridge. It\’s plenty wide and works great at both ends. Oh, wait, that never happened!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jerrod May 22, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Matt (#4)- if you build it, they will come!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • ralph May 22, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Red Hippie,

    The 405 bridge was a single span.

    This bridge is 3 different spans along with the associated supporting members.

    A much larger and more complex endeavor and therefore more costly.

    Can someone explain the need for the concrete spire on the east end of each design?

    Also in all three designs on the east side I see a stairway for pedestrians and an elevator/ramp combination. Which means cyclists will have to walk down the stairs or take the elevator to get on/off the bridge. Am I missing something or is the bike access not being addressed fully?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Russell May 22, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Ralph – I think what Redhippie was saying is that the price tag for this is $5M, while the price tag for the Sauvie Island reuse was $5.5M. I\’m curious as to how they\’re doing this one for so cheap.

    As for other concerns, I think this bridge is poorly designed. It looks like the widest option might be at about 17\’. Considering that downhill traffic reaches a 4.5% downgrade bikes will be able to pick up a fair amount of speed, although hopefully people will be braking. These people will then hit what looks like either an elevator/stair combo or a 180-degree turn down a narrower and steeper ramp. Why not in option \’A\’ start the bikes descending immediately after crossing Macadam? Maybe we do need to separate bicycle and pedestrian traffic as people get on/off this contraption. Lastly, in options \’B\’ & \’C\’ it looks like the only options to get on/off are elevators or stairs, which makes very little sense.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dave Sohigian May 22, 2008 at 8:37 am

    I live in Lair Hill, so I would use this bridge regularly to get down to the South Waterfront. It has been in the works for some time. I think there was originally $10 or $11 Million set aside from the Tram project for the bridge. I am not sure how this number got down to $5 Million, but I do know that from the neighborhood meetings back then that many thought it could not be built for $11 Million. With raw material costs rising due to petroleum prices, I don\’t see any way this could be built for $5 Million. I think the original design were more of a \”trophy\” bridge, and perhaps this is more utilitarian. But it stills seems far fetched to get it all in under budget.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • foote May 22, 2008 at 8:43 am

    This must mean that cully has gotten its sidewalks.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt Picio May 22, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Jerrod (#8) – I *wish* that were true.

    ralph (#9) – concrete spire – do you mean the tower for the tram? The east end of the bridge will be adjacent to the tram and that big spire is the existing east tram tower.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt Picio May 22, 2008 at 8:46 am

    foote (#12) – actually, that project is in the works. Roger Geller just sent an email out about it yesterday.

    Cully Boulevard Improvement Project Open House

    Date/Time: Thursday, June 5th, 6 – 8 PM
    Location: Rigler Elementary School Gym, 5401 NE Prescott

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • ralph May 22, 2008 at 8:48 am

    So it is the tram.

    Wasn\’t sure why it needed to be included in the drawings since it isn\’t part of the actual design and it interferes with seeing the entire bridge design.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Josh May 22, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Hey Anything would be better then the round about ways that must be taken now, aka going into downtown, then harrison-riverparkway, then moody backwards toward south waterfront. I would use it daily so I hope it is built, no matter what fashion it is.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • oliver May 22, 2008 at 10:26 am

    \” I think there was originally $10 or $11 Million set aside from the Tram project for the bridge. I am not sure how this number got down to $5 Million\”

    Maybe it\’s only $5 million in addition to the $10 already set aside.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh May 22, 2008 at 10:33 am

    This bridge was part of the original south waterfront development..this is actually old news and shouldn\’t be too much of a new surprise to anyone.

    The area of Lair Hill, albeit small, is in need of connectivity to the south waterfront area as it continues to grow and develop over the next 10 years.

    The bridge should not be compared to the NW Flanders crossing…the two projects are vastly different in concept and necessity.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • JollyOldMan May 22, 2008 at 11:55 am

    I dont believe the Lair Hill neighborhood gives a hoot about access to the South Waterfront area since they were lied to so badly by Sam Adams over the tram. Whats in South Waterfront? Nothing.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donald May 22, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Since you asked, Jolly: I am here in the south waterfront as I type, enjoying my view of a swollen Willamette from my desk. I ride here nearly every day.

    And I think the Tram rocks.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby May 22, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Yeah but Donald, do you have to live under or near the Sham Tram?

    Or do you, as I assume, just work in the South Waterfront?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • scoot May 22, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I live in Lair Hill and I give a hoot about connection to South Waterfront. What\’s in South Waterfront? Connection to a major N/S bike route. I\’d be happier if the bridge were going to carry right on over the water, connecting this area to SE in a bike-friendly straight shot, but this bridge is way more than nothing.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby May 22, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    There are actually, as we all know, a number of feasible ways to get from Lair Hill to the South Waterfront.

    That being said, this additional crossing has been planned for a long time, and may be the only really good thing to come out of the Tram Fiasco.

    I know it is just an artists rendering, but the East side access would appear to go right to the tram, instead of flowing down to road level. it is looking very much too Tram Specific…..

    Does anyone have info as to the actual ramps coming off of such a structure on th? There are none drawn in either side in the graphic above…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Great to see that this posting by bikeportland.org has generated so much commentary.

    This response is simply to provide clarification about the Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge project.

    • The construction budget for the bridge is $7 million (not $5 million). The total budget is $11 million.

    • The three design options referred to in the blog, Options A, B, and C, are previous conceptual bridge designs. Currently, the consultant is developing alternative designs based on ODOT requirements and cost.

    The Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge project entails a complex design process. Public involvement is integral to its success. We invite all interested citizens to participate. The next opportunity is our June 25 Open House, which is scheduled for 5-8pm at the Cedarwood School, located at 3030 SW 2nd Ave in Portland. We also invite you to take our online survey at http://www.gibbsbridge.org.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • zilfondel May 22, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    The neighborhood had actually already chosen a design last fall – but then PDOT cut the budget by 60% and restarted the process from scratch again, essentially telling everyone that they couldn\’t build what the neighborhood/city process had settled on.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • travis May 22, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    staying off topic….
    it seems to me that i ride down N vancouver everyday to the broadway bridge in a pretty crowded bike lane. maybe its not as huge a crowd as the ones on the hawthorne bridge, but i know tons of people in north and northeast that are sick off the near death experience of biking thru the pearl district just to go serve yuppies in nw.

    there are pedestrian bridges in houston that are connected to freeways that are pretty high up.

    in the netherlands there are pontoon bridges with motorboats on one end that tow the bridge back to allow river traffic thru.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Vance May 23, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Oh, I see. I was getting pretty confused. Couldn\’t figure out what the heck Lair Hill had to do with a 405-crossing in Old Town. bahueh #18 thanks for the clarification. Those developing this project are referring to at as, \”Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge\”. Looking at their location map, I\’m still failing to see how this will significantly impact bike commuters. I make that trip several times a day, and it is no more than 7 mins from 201-central to any point in Lair Hill. Going to make the walk from the Tram parking-lot to the retail and service businesses in the South Water Front development, a bunch easier though, I suppose.

    I dream of a day bikes get stuff that isn\’t an afterthought of somebody trying to funnel shoppers into their business. Sigh. At least it is Fed money!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tara June 19, 2008 at 11:26 am

    What about a Southern BIKE/ PEDESTRIAN bridge over the river, connecting SE Portland and SW Portland?
    i have to bike, on the sidewalk, over the ross island bridge
    to work everyday (extremely dangerous.) yikes!

    why not connect the South Waterfront to a bike friendly Ross island bike attachment (OR something of the like?)
    something has to be done for bikers and pedestrians in the south of Portland. there isn\’t a SAFE way to cross the Willamette unless you bike a couple miles north to Hawthorne and then you bike a couple of miles south to where you were going.


    I moved from North Portland (lived on Rosa Parkes and N. Mississippi.) Access across the river to the West side was Wonderful, and much appreciated. I had multiple options. I\’d like one SAFE option in the South.

    Thanks a lot!

    Recommended Thumb up 0