TIGER II grant would bring biking improvements to rail corridor

This substandard bridge in SE Portland’s
Brooklyn neighborhood would be improved
with TIGER II grant funds.

A partnership between TriMet, Metro, and the cities of Portland and Milwaukie could lead to a series of significant biking and walking improvements along the yet-to-be built Portland to Milwaukie light-rail line. TriMet is the lead applicant in a $13.2 million TIGER II grant request that would include a new multi-use path, a new biking and walking-only bridge in Milwaukie, and several other components along the rail corridor.

The total Portland-Milwaukie light rail project (which got some bad news today with less than expected federal investment) will cost an estimated $1.4 Billion. According to a backgrounder on the project (PDF), the $45.4 million “Portland-Milwaukie Transit Catalyst Project” would take the new MAX rail line “from a state of the art transit corridor to a state of the art multi-modal corridor.”

Lake McTighe, project manager for Metro’s Active Transportation Partnership who’s helping write the grant, says the TriMet project and these multi-modal improvements are a natural fit: “The light-rail transit corridor will already unlock a lot of land-use development. Adding the multi-modal piece bumps that up that much higher.” McTighe says they looked at what TriMet was already planning to do and thought, “What are other elements that we can add and really enhance this project?”

Detail of project map. Download PDF of 3-page backgrounder here.

Here’s a breakdown of the five big components of this project:

    Clinton to the River Multi-Use Path
    This new path would make a key connection between dense Southeast Portland neighborhoods and the Springwater Corridor/Eastbank Esplanade trails, MAX stations at OMSI, and the future Willamette River Bridge (which will be transit, biking, and walking only).

    Relocation of SE Water Ave
    The project would re-align SE Water Ave to better accomodate a comfortable and safe mix of freight, biking, walking, and auto traffic.

    Oregon Pacific Railroad and Yard Improvements
    Relocation of four steam engines and other improvements to this rail yard would create needed right of way to make the SE Water Ave relocation possible.

    Renovation of SE Rhine/Lafayette St Non-Motorized Bridge
    The current non-motorized bridge on SE Lafayette between SE 18th and 20th is substandard (see photo above). A new bridge would allow for more comfortable crossing by people on foot and on bicycles.

    Kellogg Lake Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge
    This would be a new bridge connecting downtown Milwaukie with the soon-to-be completed Trolley Trail.

The US DOT has made $600 million available in this second round of TIGER funding. Metro was shut out of active transportation project funding in the last TIGER go-round, but they’ve learned lessons they hope will translate to success this time. The pre-application deadline is today. More on TIGER II here.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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ambrown
13 years ago

Great to see Trimet being proactive on this front. Two thoughts:

I must say that it’s somewhat annoying that developer interests in the South Waterfront were able to push for the current bridge configuration. Because the bridge travels in a NE to SW direction, it’ll put bikers attempting to get to the city center/downtown a little bit out of their way. Hopefully that west side willamette greenway project will eventually take off, providing another fantastic, car free bike route into downtown portland.

In Minneapolis, there’s a twelve foot wide bike path that parallels their only light rail line. It works really well because cars at the cross streets instinctively look each direction for the train, and end up also looking out for bicycles crossing the streets as well. I’ve always had fun in Minneapolis racing the light rail along the corridor (it almost always beats me).

Bikes and transit win when they team up.

Elliot
Elliot
13 years ago

Small correction: the preapplication deadline is today (i.e. declare your intent to submit). Full applications are due August 23.

Spiffy
13 years ago

Clinton to the River Multi-Use Path: YES PLEASE!!!

michael downes
michael downes
13 years ago

I’m so glad the will be improving that bridge at Rhine/Lafayette. To term the bridge ‘substandard’ is an understatement.

elaine
elaine
13 years ago

What does that bridge go over? Hard to tell from the picture…

Virginia Bicycling Federation

Glad to see that Portland is onboard with rails with trails!

Railroads often resist any encroachment or encumbrance on their property, citing liability concerns. But a recent study of 21 rails with trails in California showed an excellent safety record. In Virginia, our recreational use statute specifically covers railroads’ liability for public access on their property. So rails with trails present less liability than rails without. Federal legislation to this effect could be a great help in developing bike-ped infrastructure nationwide.

Please show your support for rails with trails: sign our rails with trails petition, and get your organization to write a letter of support for our rails with trails resolution.

sabernar
sabernar
13 years ago

– how else would the bridge be configured? It has to be squeezed in between the Marquam and Ross Island bridges, so it was never going to be able to go from NW to SE. And the eastside is supposed to be next to OMSI, so…..I’m not sure what your idea of a bridge would be. If you want to get closer to downtown via bike, just take the Hawthorne Bridge.

Red Five
Red Five
13 years ago

PLEASE don’t but annoying little plastic edges on the ramps that make cyclists crash!

bikieboy
bikieboy
13 years ago

“The current non-motorized bridge on SE Lafayette between SE 18th and 20th is substandard…”

that’s putting it mildly. I lugged my bike up & down it a few days ago and it’s a rickety old thing, loose boards and all, quite the adventure.

It would be great to replace this bridge with something useable, as there are so few crossings of the rail line in SE, and even fewer of them that actually work reasonably well (Holgate? Powell? fuggedaboudit…) for bikes & peds.

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
13 years ago

elaine (#5), that bridge crosses the Brooklyn rail yard. There is no other way across the tracks between Powell (which itself is tricky due to the viaduct under the rails) and Holgate. The current bridge is not only extremely rickety, but because it’s so decrepit it gets little use and attracts a lot of unsavory characters. Especially not recommended at night.

There’s another pedestrian bridge over the tracks just 1/4 mile away at Brooklyn street (north of Powell, very near Clinton) in very similar condition. Why wouldn’t both bridges get the same treatment?

Meanwhile, Clinton to the River would be awesome. And the OPRR stuff would be good too. The City already has a fantastic set of OPERATING steam engines unparalleled almost anywhere. If everything goes according to plan (including the OPRR yard changes), within a few years we will have one of the best rail museums in the WORLD, almost across the street from OMSI and ready to bring a lot of tourism dollars into our community.

Todd
13 years ago

I looooove this pedestrian bridge. It only takes one person walking (not not hundreds of people dancing…ahem Hawthorne) to make it shake like the Tacoma Narrows…

John D.
John D.
13 years ago

I’ve loved that bridge for years! It seems like it was built out of spare parts by crafty railroad workers back in the day. The bridge has actually been repaired and upgraded in the last few years to the state that it is in now. Not too long ago it would sway in a stiff wind and shake like crazy if a train was going under. Someone had even put warnings on the most rotted boards. This is a pic I took in the summer of 2006.
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5257/3082/1600/dontstep.jpg