ODOT ready to install 29 new bikeway signs near I-5 bridge

Mock-up of one of 29 new signs
created by ODOT to guide
bike traffic near I-5 bridge.

Last week we reported on unauthorized signage near the I-5 Bridge that was installed by a citizen activist to help bike traffic navigate the winding paths to Vancouver. The person who painted the stencils and posted laminated maps still hasn’t come forward to take credit, but many in the community are hailing them as a hero. The serpentine approach to the I-5 bridge has been a thorn in the side of many people for many years.

We followed up that story with word from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) that — despite sympathies for frustrated bike riders — they planned to remove the signs eventually because they were non-standard and hadn’t gone through an officially sanctioned process.

And then late Friday afternoon I got a phone call from ODOT Region 1 Manager Jason Tell with some very good news.

Turns out ODOT has a plan for 29 new bike-specific wayfinding signs all ready to go and they’ll begin installing them in the next several weeks. Below are images Tell sent me of what the signs look like and where they’ll go…

Plan for location and content of new signs near Jantzen Beach/I-5 bridge.
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Plan for location and content of new signs near Marine Drive/I-5 interchange.
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“Your timing is interesting,” Tell said during our chat, “Given how close we are ready to go on these. The designs are hot off the presses.”

ODOT Region 1 Manager
Jason Tell
(Photo © J. Maus)

Before telling me more about the signs, Tell wanted to make it clear that removing the unauthorized signs is a very low priority for his agency. “Our maintenance guys don’t go looking for these things, they have much more important things to do.”

Tell said he’s known about the need for bicycle wayfinding signs “for a while.” He also said they’ve had these plans in place for some time now, but that they just hadn’t done anything with them yet.

“For folks that had the impression that we don’t think this was important, that’s just not the case,” said Tell. “For folks who think our process takes too long,” he added, “Well, it may.”

One of the reasons for the delay is that Tell says ODOT wanted to get the sign designs just right. To do so, they worked closely with the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation. “We wanted to make sure they mesh in with the way the City of Portland is doing them so cyclists don’t run into a bunch of different types of signage.”

ODOT’s plans call for 16 new signs south of Jantzen Beach where the shared-use path begins at the Delta Park/MLK Blvd/Marine Drive interchanges. Closer to the approach to I-5, 13 new signs will help people find their way up onto the bridge.

Tell hopes to begin installation soon, saying all ODOT has to do now is fabricate and install them. He says the project is expected to be fully completed before the end of the year.

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