improvements on Morrison Bridge.
(Currently, there is only a 5-foot sidewalk.)
An estimated $3.2 million project to improve the bike and pedestrian facilities on the Morrison Bridge — that was first identified in 1994 (yes, 1994) — is finally set for construction.
Today I confirmed with Multnomah County (they own the bridge) spokesman Michael Pullen that the contractor on the project has just received “a notice to proceed” with construction. Pullen says signs about the project should go up next month, construction will begin in March, and the entire project should be completed by the end of this year.
For advocates who have spent years tracking the (lack of) progress on this project and for anyone who bikes (or would bike if it was safer) over the bridge, this is welcome news.
So, what’s it going to look like?
Here’s how it looks right now:
And here’s what it will look like before years end:
I am still awaiting final design drawings and cross-sections (the latest docs on the County’s website are from an open house in 2003), and I will post those details later. It is important to remember though, that the bike/ped improvements will only only happen on the south side of the bridge and it will be a two-way facility. Pullen said this was due to safety concerns with freeway on/off ramps on the north side.
I asked Pullen why this project, which officially began in 2002, had taken so long to get to this point. He said there were two main reasons. The first, is that they were asked to halt any construction because of conflicts with other construction projects going on in the area (he mentioned downtown light-rail and the Burnside Bridge projects specifically). And secondly, said Pullen, “there were some design challenges.”
Pullen said it took them longer than usual to get the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to approve the design. The design was tricky in part, he said, because it includes the crash-worthy barrier (as seen above) on a bridge that opens in the middle. Once the design was approved, Pullen maintains the project has moved forward at a “normal speed”.
Stay tuned for more on this project. I’ll have more soon (including major changes for bikes and peds on the ramps up to the bridge from SE Water and Naito Parkway) once I receive information from Multnomah County. In the meantime, check out the official project website.