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Floating portion of Esplanade closure extended

Posted by on June 16th, 2011 at 10:38 am

This just in from Portland Parks & Recreation (see our story from Tuesday for background):

Eastside Floating Walkway to Remain Closed at Least Over the Weekend

(Portland, OR) –

A team of PP&R operations supervisors and engineers on-site this morning has determined that the floating walkway along the Vera Katz Eastside Esplanade from north of the Morrison Bridge to South of the Steel bridge shall remain closed to all traffic (bike, foot, boats) at least until Monday. The area affected is approximately 1000-to-1500 feet of floating territory that the rising water has made impassable.

The closure was initiated on May 31st due to high and fast water conditions on the Willamette. 2010 Parks & Recreation data show that 2,750 bike trips are made daily on the Eastside Esplanade, plus countless numbers of walkers and joggers. Portland Parks & Recreation’s primary concern is for the safety of everyone using the area, and will keep the floating platform closed until the water subsides. High water may be exacerbated by the recent rains, and hot weather could accelerate snowmelt, further prolonging high water conditions. Survey teams will evaluate conditions once again on Monday morning and determine a further course of action.

PP&R engineers and survey teams are using on-site inspections as well as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data and predictions to determine when the river will lower to a safe condition. As of the morning of June 16, 2011, the Willamette had risen due to recent rains. Engineering teams have determined that the water level must be below 16 feet for the transitions from the fixed concrete sidewalk to the floating wooden platform to be at acceptable angles for users’ safety.

Signs mark the closure ahead along the Esplanade path well ahead of the closure. Walkers, runners and cyclists may cross over to the west side of the river via the Hawthorne Bridge, the Steel Bridge, and the Burnside Bridge, and there’s a trough on the side of the stairs for bike tires to be guided up the Burnside Bridge as riders carry their bikes.

Once on a bridge, walkers, runners and cyclists will find they can either travel into southeast Portland, or they may cross the river to the west side waterfront trail and beyond. PP&R has no jurisdiction over bridges or city streets, therefore our teams cannot put any detour signage in place. We encourage all park users to stay alert and aware, and to exercise caution.

The Esplanade was built in 2001. This has been, and continues to be, the first time in the walkway’s history that rising water has forced such a closure. Terri Davis, PP&R’s West Services Zone manager, says water has not been at this high a level since the floods of 1996. More info on the Esplanade is below.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Nick V
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Nick V

They’re going to evaluate condtions on Monday and, according to KOIN.com, temps are supposed to hit 80 on Tuesday. D’oh!

Easy
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Easy

Could they make a new, longer transition panel that fixes the angle?

BURR
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BURR

certainly.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

I asked Mark Ross from Parks that same question… Here’s his response:

In regards to modifying the Eastside Esplanade walkway; our Portland Parks & Recreation staff will review this occurence, identify lessons learned, and try to identify low-cost options to decrease likelihood of closures in the future. However, at this time we have no plans to undertake extensive review or redesign of the Eastside Esplanade.

PP&R engineers and survey teams are concerned that providing different transitions to function at higher river levels COULD compromise the functioning of transitions at lower, typical levels. To move forward, reviews by outside agencies would be likely. There are a lot of federal, state, regional, and local regulatory agencies with interests in the river. Any modifications would have to be reviewed by them to assure compliance with current standards, too.

In the 10 years it has been open, this is the first time this portion of the Esplanade has been closed, so any investment would have to be pass the cost/ benefit test. Preliminarily, we believe that the cost of changes required to ensure the area would remain open for potentially one additional month every ten to twelve years would have to be pretty modest to warrant that investment.

Therefore, at this time, there are no plans to modify the area. We understand the inconvenience the temporary closure is causing to users of the Esplanade; however, safety is our primary concern. For now, we ask that users please take advantage of the detours until Mother Nature provides us with the chance to re-open the areas.

DIMcyclist
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DIMcyclist

Hopefully someone in P&R will take the closure as an opportunity to add a couple more of those nifty new transition ramps to the large ramps; they sure make the ride a lot smoother. : )

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

In Portland? That would require a pre-preliminary study, a preliminary study, a study, a pre-construction evaluation, construction, an evaluation of the construction, a post-evaluation study, and a followup study. Not to mention the actual construction involved. Total closure: 5.2 years. Total cost: $57.3 billion.

fiets503
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fiets503

“impassable” I don’t know about that…..

Gabriel Nagmay
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Look like I will need a new route to WNBR.

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

I’m still disappointed that they can’t just put up a barrier that requires dismounting and leave it open. As long as there isn’t a gap I believe it should still be open to the public.

[and even in saying that, I’m compromising in favor of some nanny-stateism. Ideally I’d rather there just be a some cones and a warning sign. Some of us might actually have the skillz to ride that ramp anyway 😉 ]

BURR
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BURR

If BikePortland hadn’t made it an issue, the floating bridge might still be open….

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

there’s probably some truth to that… but I’m not sure I “made it an issue” as much as I documented what was happening.

Nick V
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Nick V

You probably saved a few people from some bad wrecks too……

Shane
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Shane

I agree! I saw one and reported it to Jonathan. I am very happy he was able to get it noticed so quickly.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Not sure if you’ve been out there to see for yourself… but it floats! When wakes come through there is a gap that forms between the dock and the ramps (I filmed this in action in an earlier post).. It would be a legal nightmare for Parks to have it open to the public in that condition.

q`Tzal
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q`Tzal

GlowBoy
I’m still disappointed that they can’t just put up a barrier that requires dismounting and leave it open. As long as there isn’t a gap I believe it should still be open to the public.
[and even in saying that, I’m compromising in favor of some nanny-stateism. Ideally I’d rather there just be a some cones and a warning sign. Some of us might actually have the skillz to ride that ramp anyway 😉 ]

An idea even cheaper than a longer transition panel that fixes the angle?
Put a legal aide from the city at both ends of the Esplanade that makes all determined users sign a legal waiver of their rights to sue the city if they get injured or killed on the floating Esplanade segment during this temporary closure.

People get to use the path under advisement and taxpayers avoid lawsuit payouts to the stupid.

jeff
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jeff

is it so hard to ride to the other side of the river for a mile or so? life’s not perfect. we’re all capable of adapting. its temporary. move along.

Drew
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Drew

+1

A transition panel that works both for the current situation and is ADA compliant would have to be at least 12′ long which is neither practical nor cheap.

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

Not to mention, what happens when the river gets to be drought low, which is a far more common occurrance…then it would close because that longer ramp is sticking up in the air.

A.K.
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A.K.

No kidding. I still can’t believe people are whining for expensive engineering solutions or more signs.

Ed
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Ed

Bike Portland certainly did the right thing by informing us all about the Esplanade situation early on and since. And, without Bike Portland, we might never know about hazards and closures that affect us daily. Again, thanks so much Jonathan et al. PP&Rec probably did the right thing by closing the Esplanade and the detours aren’t so onerous for anyone who knows where to go. What I can’t accept is that the suits at PP&Rec still think they either are unable or shouldn’t be responsible for working w/ other city bureaus to give people who don’t already know some options for how to proceed. If there are now , at last, signs “well ahead of the closure,” that would be a big improvement and thanks for that. But for people who don’t often take that route, perhaps from out of town, some notice about options for how to get around the Esplanade would be very helpful and should actually be expected, as–we must keep repeating–they would be if auto traffic were involved, instead of more than 2,000 bike riders each day. There should be no impermeable force field between PP&REC and PBOT and even the county to keep them from serving the public together, as we pay them to do.

verasoie
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verasoie

During the Rose Parade festivities, the “alternative route” on the westside was truly “impassable” (compared to what would have been an easy dismount/remount on the eastside) due to the crowds/closed off section/etc., so this was more of a hardship than just riding on the other side of the river, as some have said.

I had to ride through heavy traffic on the arterials on the eastside instead of a safe and enjoyable ride on the esplanade. I felt okay doing this, but it’s definitely not something I would have done if it had been any season but dry, sunny, warm summer.

Now, it’s just a nuisance, as everyone’s packed into the eastside, so it’s a lot slower.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

SE 6th Ave. is a fairly pleasant alternative to get to some destinations. There’s low traffic and no door-zone bike lanes or wheel-grabbing rail tracks.