Tour de Lab September 1st

Design options weighed for new transit/ped/bike bridge

Posted by on December 12th, 2008 at 3:27 pm

TriMet’s 7.3 mile Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail project includes a new bridge that will cross the Willamette River. The bridge is poised to be the nation’s first-ever transit/bike/ped only crossing and TriMet, along with bridge designers and other project stakeholders have narrowed down the design to two — a cable-stay, or a “wave” design.

The adopted alignment leave the South Waterfront (south of the Marquam Bridge) and will land on the east side just south of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Randy Gragg has covered the design issues very closely over at Portland Spaces and today, the Portland Architecture blog has more discussion and analysis of the cable-stay and wave designs.

Here are renderings from Rosales and Partners of the two potential designs. How would you feel biking over them?

The cable-stay design.

The wave design.

If I had to choose, I would go with the wave design. I like the uncluttered views it offers.

The design of the bike and pedestrian facility on the bridge is still being discussed (it will definitely exist, but width, etc… is still being worked out). TriMet project managers presented their thoughts at the City of Portland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday. We’ll have more on that next week.

Construction is set to begin in late 2011 with completion in 2015.

— For more on this project visit, TriMet.org.

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25 Comments
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    Hart December 12, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Wave design inda house!!!

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    Ethan December 12, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Beautiful Design. . . what does this mean for the ill-fated waterfront trail, SK Northwest, Kingsley etc?

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    mrrobot December 12, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Does anyone know how many riders are expected to use the bridge and how wide the path will be?

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    Ken Wetherell December 12, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Nice! I wonder if some of Obama’s infrastructure infusion might get earmarked for this.

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    patrickz December 12, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    One more for the wave design. Should offer a fine view of the E side when crossing over (judging from the illo)

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    sean December 12, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I crave the wave! I work at South waterfront…this will be VERY helpful!

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    Dave December 12, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I saw this earlier this morning on the Portland Architecture blog – it seems exciting to me (for one, I commute from SE Powell to the South Waterfront buildings, so it would be super convenient for me), but it would also allow easy access to the downtown area of the waterfront along the south waterfront, which is a very light car traffic area, so I imagine this might make people in the south end of SE Portland feel better about biking into downtown. I looks like it would be kind of a similar ride to the Hawthorne bridge, and since the bike/pedestrian “lane” is physically separated from the MAX lines, I think I would feel great biking across.

    Also, I’m hoping by saying, “The design of the bike and pedestrian facility on the bridge is still being discussed.” – you don’t mean that there is a chance it won’t appear, but just that the specific details have yet to be worked out 🙂

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) December 12, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    “what does this mean for the ill-fated waterfront trail, SK Northwest, Kingsley etc?”

    Ethan,
    last i heard the City/BTA was winning that legal battle. I would hope that the new trail would be in place before the bridge is done… but either way, the bridge is good leverage to force that conversation.

    “I wonder if some of Obama’s infrastructure infusion might get earmarked for this.”

    Ken,
    This is a TriMet light rail project, they don’t need any help with cash (that’s a joke).

    And as for the bike/ped portion of the bridge… it is definitely in the plans, I just haven’t had time to do the story. I’ll share more details on it asap.

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    K'Tesh December 12, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Wave design has my vote… Besides the uncluttered views, It just looks better than any of the other options I’ve seen.

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    Ron Richings, Vancouver, BC December 12, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    For what its worth, Vancouver, BC has just completed a transit/bike/ped bridege crossing of the North Arm of the Fraser River. Cable stay design, with the bike/ped path cantilevered from the bridge, offset from and lower than the transit deck level.
    I did a short write-up with some photos and design info at
    http://tinyurl.com/6gw9qm

    Ron Richings

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    cyclist December 12, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    It looks like the views on the wave bridge would be much nicer, and the design fits in better… the cable stayed bridge kind of looks like it’s out of place in the pictures they show on the Portland Architecture Blog.

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    Refunk December 12, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I, too, prefer the wave design.

    However, a number of people I know who are not as hardcore as the usual BikePortland reader have oft expressed discomfort upon crossing the Interstate or Hawthorne bridges. They are unhappy about the height being so obvious as they cycle across, the river below visible through the railing or roadway or whatever. For the sake of encouraging new riders, perhaps there is some value to that “solid” railing which appears in the pic above of the cable-stay design.

    Crossing the Mississippi this summer, I rode over a bridge at Dubuque. It had an afterthought of a tiny, narrow concrete walkway cantilevered off by a few meters to one side of the automobile roadway. The cantilever structure was not apparent on the road side (disconcertingly invisible, in fact) and there was no railing, rather a long ribbon of flexing, rippling chain link cyclone fence running alongside riverward. The great waters far below looked about one wheel shrug away all the way across… TriMet: don’t do that, okay?

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    Paul Burdick December 12, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Definitely the wav design, as I like the unobstructed views. Can you imagine biking East on that bridge at the end of the day and seeing Hood rising out of the sky? Mmm, that would be some good commuting.

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    mike fink December 12, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    nah, cable stay will win, betcha. 21st century and way mod and european, plus you’re looking at one view and making a snap (and peer pressured) judgment based on ingrained subconscious ideas about art and composition. cable stay will enhance the bridges profile of the city and the modernity of the city and not obstruct any view by any true measure as you move over it. it will look better from all other angles, a surprise, not the same, and continue to chart the evolution of bridge architecture, as the current lineup of bridges does. period.

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    yttocs December 12, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Excited to see the vision but why does it take from 2011-2015 to complete a bridge? If this was Vegas or China it would be completed as designed in 6 months, w/the planning.

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    Ethan December 12, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Cable stay would be much more striking from a distance methinks, and you don’t just look FROM a bridge . . . but also AT it.

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    Matthew Denton December 12, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    3 things to note:
    1) The path on the wave design is very similar to the path on the Broadway bridge, in that it is cantilevered off the side of the structure, and so there is a lot of space between the bus/streetcar/MAX section and the path, and just a railing between you and the water. On the cable-stayed, that is reversed, so there is a lot of room between you and the water, and just a “railing” (although it looks like jersey barriers in the picture) between “traffic” (which won’t actually be that much,) and the path, but a lot of structure between you and the water. (I’m more afraid of cars than heights, so I know which one I prefer.)
    2) The wave design is a little more expensive.
    3) I believe the legislature already promised the money for this project, (and while that could change,) so it looks like it will indeed happen.

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    Christopher Cotrell December 12, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Definitely prefer the wave design, though really either would be wonderful: greatly improved mobility all around.

    But why are they planning on a shared use path? It’s a blank slate with what appears to be an ample sidewalk: why not separate bikes and pedestrians? More comfort for pedestrians who won’t have to keep constant watch over their shoulder for bikes, and better speed and, yes, comfort for cyclists who won’t have to worry about pedestrians.

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    mechanic Mark December 12, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Another vote for separate bike and ped paths. Safer and faster.

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    Opus the Poet December 12, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Just wondering, could one side be a bidirectional bike path and the other side be a bidirectional pedestrian path? As far as which I prefer, the wave would be nicer to ride on but the cable stay would be nicer to look at when I’m riding someplace else, po-tA-to, po-tah-to.

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    G.A.R. December 13, 2008 at 11:18 am

    If this is what we get–a fixed span with a substantial hill to climb, then I prefer the wave. But let’s consider how lame these fixed span options are! The criteria say min 60′ clearance below at river datum zero. This requirement is based on the Dalby tug, not on what river commerce may require in the future. Frankly this figure should be higher. Marquam, Ross Isl., and the L. O. rr bridge are at least ten feet higher, which means we’re foreclosing on Zidell operations and on taller pleasure craft for 12 river miles–all the way to the Oregon City Bridge. More important to folks on this frequency, the fixed span makes for a big hill. 60′ is like the Burnside, and with low terrain on both sides (unlike Burnside) this means a big hill in both directions. We would all prefer an operable bridge with a lower clearance requirement when the span is down. Why can’t we have that? The city needs a nice single-leaf bascule bridge. All we have are doubles, elevators and swings. The natural setting and scale of this bridge, since it has no highway, and since it is situated between two behemoths, lends itself to modesty. The height should be like Hawthorne. Unlike Steel, small craft don’t require it to open — let the trains run mostly unfettered — but larger craft require an opening. Meanwhile, cyclists and trains and wheelchairs can cross with the expenditure of far less power. Yes, it requires a bridge tender 24×7. Perhaps with suitable audio and video technology this task could be handled by the Hawthorne tender. Cost would probably be higher. But cost should not be an excuse for building the wrong thing.

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    Barry Stephens December 13, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Will the bridge have a removeable weather
    covering to protect people during winter?
    BT Stephens in Texas

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    GLV December 13, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    “Excited to see the vision but why does it take from 2011-2015 to complete a bridge? ”

    The entire light rail line will be built during that time period. The actual bridge construction will only be a for a portion of the time.

    Re: funding: the Oregon legislature earmarked 250 million in lottery backed bonds for the project. The entire project is projected to cost 1.4 BILLION. So there’s a huge funding gap that an Obama-led FTA will need to help fill if this is going to happen. FWIW, I think they will.

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    Coyote December 15, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Aesthetically I am ok with either design. So I would pick the one with the best long term maintenance, longevity, and seismic resistance.

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    KWW December 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I was hoping for a cable stay bridge for the Sellwood bridge replacement. Anyway, the real question is how high will the building have to be to pass river traffic underneath, and will that requirement favor one design over another?

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