Streetcar project puts pole on Broadway Bridge path – UPDATED

A new pole for the eastside streetcar project has been placed at the mouth of the Broadway Bridge.

Have you noticed the new utility pole installed on the eastern end of the westbound Broadway Bridge path? The pole narrows the opening of one of the busiest bikeways in the city. Activists — including the BTA — have raised alarms about it, but the contractor for Portland Streetcar Inc says they evaluated other locations and found this one to be the only plausible option.

(Photo: Joe Rowe)

Citizen activist Joe Rowe emailed City and streetcar construction officials with the hopes of getting the pole removed. He feels the pole could have been mounted outside the adjacent railing (learn more about Rowe’s efforts in a document he shared in the comments below).

There also looks to be plenty of room to have placed it on the main roadway; but Julie Gustafson with streetcar contractor Shiels Obletz Johnsen, Inc. says the current location “was evaluated extensively by the design team, the City and Multnomah County.” Gustafson says putting the pole up on the biking and walking path was necessary because the pole requires a specific type of foundation, there are limits on where it can be located “with respect to attaching it to the structure,” and where the pole must be “with respect to the other poles in the alignment.”

They considered a few other locations, but Gustafson says that, in the end, “Due to structural constraints of the Bridge, the current placement was the only option that was viable and approved by all parties.”

To prevent people on bikes from running into the pole, contractors initially placed some white tape leading up to it…

(Photo: Joe Rowe)

That tape is now gone, but bright orange advisory cones remain…

On December 19th of last year, Portland Streetcar Inc (PSI) Board Member and City of Portland Planning Commissioner Chris Smith wrote a letter (PDF here) to PBOT Director Tom Miller and PSI President Rick Gustafson, asking why this pole was placed in this location and asking for mitigation. The letter was signed by BTA Director Rob Sadowsky and cc’d to Mayor Sam Adams’ Transportation Director Catherine Ciarlo. Here’s an excerpt:

“We are writing to request mitigation for the catenary pole placed at the Northeast corner of the Broadway Bridge as part of the Streetcar Loop project. This pole is a crash hazard, narrows the existing bikeway, and makes it difficult for cyclists to share the space with other users of the shared use path. As you know, this is one of the most heavily used river crossings in Portland’s bicycle network.

Unfortunately, this is not the only location on the Streetcar Loop that created compromises with the bicycle network. But it is unique, because it was implemented through a field change order, in having absolutely no opportunity for review by citizens or stakeholders.

According to BTA staffer Gerik Kransky, PBOT and PSI have not yet responded to the letter.

We’ll keep you posted with any developments.

Have you noticed this pole?

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