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Residents will march for a people-friendly Sellwood Bridge

Posted by on January 29th, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Sellwood residents are gearing up for a march on the Sellwood Bridge this Saturday. According to one of the event’s organizers, Bradley Heintz, the goal of the march is to send a message that any bridge that is built adheres to existing planning guidelines as community livability concerns.

Detail of event flyer – Download full version (250kb)

The Sellwood Bridge Project has reached some key decision points in recent weeks. Last week, the project’s Community Task Force made their official recommendation on the bridge alignment and lane configuration to the Policy Advisory Group (the PAG includes Mayor Adams, Metro councilor Robert Liberty, and others). On February 6th, the PAG is set to make a recommendation of their own.

“We want to make sure the bridge is no greater than 64-feet wide and that it only has two lanes of motor vehicle traffic.”
— Bradley Heintz, Sellwood resident

In the meantime, the community wants to make a statement that whatever decision is made is in accordance with the city’s Tacoma Main Street Plan. “We want to make sure the bridge is no greater than 64-feet wide and that it only has two lanes of motor vehicle traffic,” said Heintz.

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Heintz said he and other members of the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMIL) are worried that if a wider configuration is pushed through, the now wide and ample room for bikes and pedestrians might get re-striped as a motor vehicle lane in the future.

The 64-foot cross-section.

In addition to lane configuration, Heintz also wants to make sure that Tacoma Street (the street the bridge is on) stays as safe as possible. Back in November, a Sellwood boy was hit while trying to cross Tacoma at SE 13th Avenue on his bicycle.

Another Sellwood resident, Christopher Heaps, says they hope for a good showing at the rally. Heaps says whoever shows up, “will help preserve a neighborhood where people feel comfortable walking and riding,” and he added that, “a two-lane bridge…will do just that.”

The march organizers have secured a permit to go down Tacoma and half-way across the bridge.

    Sellwood Bridge March
    Saturday, 1/31 at 9:30am
    Location: Sellwood Community Center (SE Spokane and 15th Ave.)

— Browse our previous coverage of the Sellwood Bridge Project.

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 — Jonathan

  • Matthew Denton January 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    “(SMIL) are worried that if a wider configuration is pushed through, the now wide and ample room for bikes and pedestrians might get re-striped as a motor vehicle lane in the future.”

    That is a risk with the CRC as well. The width of the bridge for the shoulders and the extra width lanes means that if they build a 12 lane bridge, it would be possible to re-stripe it as a 18 lane bridge. Even the 8 lane option could either become 14 or 16. (That is how we got to 6 right now. When I-5 first went over the bridge it was only 4 with a shoulder.)

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  • a.O January 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    We really appreciate you covering this, Jonathan. This is a big moment for the future of Sellwood, and by extension the liveability of Portland’s neighborhoods. Please join us!!

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  • Gabirel McGovern January 29, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Two sidewalks and bike lanes? Now that is just overkill!

    I kid, I kid… Every weekday, I cross the current bridge with it’s single 3ft walkway. Quite an experience. Can’t wait to tell the grandkids: “back in my day…”

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  • GLV January 29, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Will cars be crossing the bridge at the same time? Also, why only half way?

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  • Bob_M January 29, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    The existing bridge is dreadful and the different options have been beat to death. Still to build a new bridge that is not sized to accomodate light rail is short sighted. Let us not forget that the purpose of this bridge is to facilitate conveyance. It is not a bike bridge nor a ped bridge nor a vehicle bridge, nor is it Sellwood’s private domain. It is for all users from all over. Rail will diminish vehicle usage and encourage the type of density that the Tacoma St. plan depends on.

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  • feralcow January 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    now if someone could address all the spillover traffic that cuts thru the neighborhood side streets (esp during rush hour)… i bet most cyclists using Umatilla or other streets can attest to all the cars blowing through the stop signs.

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  • Chris January 29, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    The city has already stated that their funding requires that the bridge have a total of four lanes for traffic to anticipate growth. It is the only option between the Ross Island and the I-205 bridge. I am a year-round bike commuter but I feel that the bridge needs to have the extra 2 lanes. What if a car breaks down or they need to re-surface the bridge? It absolutely needs bike lanes and pedestrian lanes. Light rail is supposed to run across the river closer to Ross Island I believe, so that’s not as important. When house-sitting for my parents in West Linn and commuting to downtown I found the bike connection from the Sellwood into Lake Oswego along HW-43 to be HORRIBLE.

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  • Eric Miller January 29, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    CORRECTION: The start of the march is at the Sellwood Community Center at the corner of SE Spokane and 15th Ave.

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  • Eric Miller January 29, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I understand that a city permit has been obtained to march down the middle of Tacoma St starting at 10 am. The county is allowing us 15 minutes on the Bridge itself, so that gives 1,000 people enough time to go up to the top of the bridge, turn around and walk back.

    Re: cross-section: the bike lanes on the 64 foot plan are 6.5 feet shoulders to the roadway. This provides ample width for vehicle breakdown and for emergency vehicle transport. Streetcar is a pie-in-the-sky idea, since there is a planned rail system on the existing tracks along 43 (west side), and a plan to have mass transit along 99E on the east side. Does anyone really believe that the city will pony up millions to lay rails down Tacoma and across the bridge just to connect mass transit on 99E and a rail line on 43? A bus fills this need more than adequately–it is the best answer. Besides, streetcar can fit on a 2-lane bridge.

    Plan developers have stated that a 3-lane bridge will not improve traffic flow significantly better than the 2-lane.

    Just a little perspective: current bridge width is 31 feet. 64′ is more than DOUBLE what it is now. do we really need that much concrete in the air? if we’re serious about transit moving into the future, we need to pony up and promote it: no more vehicle lanes, we need to commit to multi-modal transport.

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  • BURR January 29, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    why the permit? it’s public space after all.

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  • Eric Miller January 29, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    permit is required by the city for us to legally march down the middle of the street. Police will be there to stop traffic for us so there won’t be any conflict.

    Part of what motivated this movement and march is that a 4-yr-old boy was hit by a truck on SE Tacoma at 13th Ave. Families here want Tacoma to have safe crossings for kids going to school. Want to avoid those car v. bike/ped conflicts.

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  • a.O January 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Yep, the bottom line is that it is already next to impossible to get drivers to yield, as required under Oregon law, to people crossing Tacoma. Also, people regularly exceed the speed limit on Tacoma, making bike riding more difficult. I typically use the bike routes on Umatilla and Spokane, but sometimes I need to access places on Tacoma. Keeping the bridge two lanes will prevent exacerbation of these problems. And we are committed as a community to solving them through other measures as well. This includes cut-through traffic. If the people in Lake Oswego or Clackamas County need a convenient place to cross the river at 40mph, they should build and pay for their own bridge.

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  • cyclist January 29, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Bob_M: As mentioned previously, streetcar can go over the bridge in the two traffic lanes that are available to autos if (and that’s a BIG if) they ever decide to send the streetcar down Tacoma.

    The 4 lane option with two “transit only” lanes is basically just a Trojan horse, eventually someone is going to be able to argue that the two transit lanes on the Sellwood Bridge are grossly underutilized (probably no more than one bus every 7-15 minutes), and that it makes sense to make the bridge a 4 lane bridge. This is why Sellwood residents have been fighting tooth and nail against that option. The present maintains a 2 lane Tacoma while expanding the capacity for pedestrians and cyclists. Sounds like a win to me.

    feralcow: I bike down Umatilla every morning for work, and I don’t think I can recall ever seeing a car blow the stop sign on 7th or 9th. I know there are a lot of drivers that use 7th and 9th in order to beat the traffic on Tacoma, but in my experience they’re not driving 50 mph or doing anything dangerous.

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  • Linkbeak January 29, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    In the morning and evening rush, a significant amount of the traffic in SW on Boone’s Ferry and Taylor’s Ferry is Clackamas County cut-through drivers. I support keeping the Sellwood Bridge focused on more local, slower speed traffic both to improve safety in Sellwood but also to keep these fast-moving drivers on the freeways and off our neighborhood streets.

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  • Paulo January 29, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Grade-separate the bike lanes from the motorized lanes and the pedestrian walk please!

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  • Chris January 29, 2009 at 7:43 pm


    The doubling of the bridge with IS to promote multi-modal transport. The old bride had only one 3′ sidewalk. The new bridge has 2 12′ sidewalks a 2 6.5′ bike lanes. That’s 37 feet of non-car surface. (Compared to only 24′ of car surface). That’s quite the promotion in my view.

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  • kww January 29, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    If you want a safe Tacoma in Sellwood, just blow up the bridge so the suburbanites can’t use it.

    Part of the BIG problem for bikes and pedestrians at 13th and Tacoma is that eastbound traffic have an extended green light (left and straight).

    Many people mistakenly cross on the west sidewalk of 13th when they see the westbound light turn red, and you can’t see the eastbound light is still green.

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  • amber January 31, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I am the mom of the boy that was hit. We were crossing on the east side of 13th- heading north on Tacoma. We had the walk signal. The truck made a left hand turn directly into us. The traffic is so bad in this area already, the truck driver thought he had an opportunity to go and never saw us. Bringing more truck traffic to this area could bring a lot more accidents.

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  • Jim February 1, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    “light rail is short sighted”
    Whats wrong with a bus system going over the bridge? I see a lot of benefits of bus over light rail and trolley

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