Railroad track project will smooth out Naito: “Gap” fix due next spring

Posted by on August 4th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Existing tracks that cross Naito.
(Photo: Google Streetview)

Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) started on a project this morning to repair their tracks on NW Naito Parkway just north of the Steel Bridge. The existing tracks have large gaps between them that make for a bumpy and jarring experience for people riding bicycles.

Yesterday’s announcement didn’t share many details about what the project would entail, so I asked PBOT traffic safety manager Mark Lear for more details. I also inquired as to whether or not we could expect a fix to the “Naito Gap” with this project (the gap is a section of road where the bike lane and shoulder both drop, creating a squeeze situation north and south of the Steel Bridge overpass – see photo below).

This is why people want a crossing treatment here and it’s also why this section of Naito is considered a gap in the bikeway (notice there’s not much room to walk or bike).
(Photo: Google Streetview)

Lear confirmed for me today that UPRR is removing the existing rail tracks, adding new track panels and replacing the old tracks. “Adding the track panels,” Lear shared via email, “ensures a smooth and even transition on the roadway across the tracks.”

As for the Naito Gap, Lear said PBOT is on track to begin a project to significantly improve traffic safety in this area. Similar to the project I shared back in July of 2009, Lear says they’ll use ODOT funding to connect the Naito bike lane through the gap. To make room for the bikeway, they’ll re-allocating the space currently used by existing lanes. In addition, they also plan to add a crossing for bicycle and walking traffic at NW Flanders.

According to Lear, “It is the goal to complete the design this fall with a project in the spring of next year.”

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17 Comments
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    Wayne August 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    It will be interesting to see how this turns out. This is part of my usual commute, by car or bike. By car it’s a roller coaster – sounds like that’s being addressed. By bike I always cut into the park and then used the crossing underneath the bridge and then sidewalk to get back to the road. No way I felt comfortable just staying on Naito and crossing the tracks.

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    Lance P. August 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I think i might pass out with joy if they actually put in a crosswalk for Flanders! That is one of the most amazingly bad designs. Noone is or has ever walked the only legal way (1 mile) to walk across the street. NW 9th south to Couch are the only legal ways to cross!

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      John Lascurettes August 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      If it’s a mile to the nearest legal crossing, OR law says you can cross in the middle of that section. I forget exactly what the threshold is for distance, but it’s out there in the ORS somewhere.

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      Jeff August 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      The crosswalk in front of McCormick Pier condos is closest I believe. But still not too ideal.

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        Lance P. August 4, 2011 at 11:17 pm

        that crosswalk will not get you across the tracks (amtrak station is there).

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    Spiffy August 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    wow, all kinds of awesome in this project!

    I always avoid the tracks, but I rode over them for Sunday Parkways… I made sure to approach at a good angle and it was still scary, even at low speed…

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    Jeff August 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Instead of a crossing at NW Flanders, I assume it will be on that block but closer to NW Glisan?

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      Bob R. August 4, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      I have no direct knowledge of what PBOT plans to do, but if my memory serves correctly, there’s enough elevation under the ramps approaching the steel bridge, just adjacent to and north of Everett, that you could weave a path under them, closer to Everett on the east side and divert over to Flanders on the west side at 1st.

      The area under the ramps is currently caged off, but a modification to the cages could change that. (That would be the most direct route and would avoid conflicts with southbound ramp traffic, but wouldn’t be the most fulfilling and peaceful journey at night, I’m guessing.)

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        Bob R. August 4, 2011 at 11:13 pm

        What’s with the addition Like/Dislike buttons? (and really, did my clearly-labelled speculation about Everett warrant a dislike?) — are you trying to become the KATU of bike advocacy?

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

          Hey Bob,

          they’re just something new I thought I’d try out. Some people like them, others don’t. Thanks for the feedback. I’ll ask for more feedback and then make a decision as to whether or not to keep them next week.

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            Scott Mizée August 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm

            I think the like dislike things are very handy. And I will really appreciate them if they allow me to subscribe to a comment feed without having to actually write something–not that coming up with something to say is normally a problem….

            I vote to keep the like/dislike buttons… even though they are sometimes somewhat ambiguous.

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        Jason McHuff August 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

        This is what I think could be done for that area:
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmchuff/2869170005/

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      Bob R. August 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      And who the heck is disliking Jeff’s perfectly reasonable question? Seriously, this like/dislike business is for troll-laden popularity contests.

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    celticnorse August 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    My 5 yr old stopped and stared at the tracks for about 3 minutes trying figure out how to get across during Sunday Parkways!

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    Jon August 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Maybe all of Naito/Front can be redone and put on a severe road diet. That is the most unnecessary underutilized road I’ve seen. 2 lanes both directions is more than adequate, its current 5 lanes is absurd.

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    Eric August 5, 2011 at 8:05 am

    The railroad crossings on Naito/Front have been slowly being removed in the last 6 years I’ve been riding Naito/Front for my commute. Most of them are not used any more any way. I’m not usually this far South, but i have ridden these crossings are they are scary at best. Now if the unused double tracks on NW 17th between Thurman and Front could be removed…

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    GlowBoy August 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    A decade ago, my regular commute took me all the way out to the end of (then) Front Ave. Northbound was OK, but southbound was absolutely harrowing, but due to the way most of the crossings curved in from the parallel track on that side — with maybe a dozen or so crossings at angles well under 45 degrees.

    I never face-planted, but I did get my REAR wheel caught by one once, scaring the jeebus out of me. It’s not in time to help my commute, but I’m glad to see so many of them gone. This road had steadily improved in numerous ways over the last few years.

    The crossing they’re working on now is one of the last of the baddies. This one can’t be removed because it’s a major trunk line, but I’m happy to see it finally getting improved.

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