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10 day closure of Interstate Bridge path starts today at noon

Posted by on July 31st, 2013 at 9:52 am

Ride Along with Branden Shelby-8

Southbound path of Interstate Bridge will
have to handle more bikers and walkers going both
directions from today through August 9th.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation issued a statement last night to warn travelers that the northbound biking and walking path on the Interstate Bridge will close for 10 days. The closure begins today (7/31) at noon and goes through August 9th.

ODOT says the northbound path will close 24/7 so crews can work on the steel gussets along the side of the bridge. “The sidewalk closure is needed so the contractor can use equipment to lower themselves over the side of the bridge to perform repairs,” ODOT said in an official statement.

According to ODOT’s Jessica Horning, the wayfinding signage outlining the detour to the southbound path has already been posted. She shared the maps below to give you a sense of what to expect if/when you head out there…

Here’s the south side of the river…

And the north…

This is an inconvenient situation. These paths are already ridiculously narrow and difficult for many people to navigate. The added, two-way traffic will only make things more uncomfortable. Our advice is to pass oncoming riders and walkers very carefully and pull over and put a foot down if necessary and possible. There’s also an incline on the path, so it’s a good idea to yield to people going downhill. Hopefully they finish the work early. If you ride this route, let us know how the detour is working out for you. And if you have other tips on how to handle riding on the path safely, feel free to share them below.

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  • Gabriel Amadeus Tiller July 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

    To clarify, this is the I5, and not related to the work being done on the I205 path.

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  • VangrooverCommuter July 31, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Yield to downhill traffic?? Um, this goes against the most commonly used trail etiquette which is that downhill yields to uphill traffic on paths and trails. No?

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    • Nathan July 31, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      It does (and I agree with you), but personal safety wins out sometimes. Not everyone will read this and who knows what to expect.

      Best advice – take it slow.

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    • Todd Boulanger July 31, 2013 at 11:40 pm

      The “yield to downhill” traffic developed organically due to the site specific design issues here (and due to ODoT not wanting to regulate directional bike flow in the past). This yielding practice works well due to the ease of waiting between girders (protected and with foot rest) and the benefit to down hill traffic keeping speed. This behavior most likely took root during the long multi year path closure about 13(?) years ago for painting and since then bike volumes have increased.

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    • dmc August 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Almost everyone yields to downhill traffic on the bridge.

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  • Todd Hudson July 31, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Thankfully I have an ample supply of Sudafed, so no trips to Vancouver are warranted for the next 10 days….

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  • Serena July 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    These paths are indeed ridiculously narrow, however, the southbound one is slightly wider for whatever reason, so if they’re going to close up one side, better that it’s the northbound side. Although to be honest I ride this to work every day and only about 50% of bikers and walkers even use the correct side anyways. The I-5 bike path is most used by oblivious walkers, bikers, and homeless folks with shopping carts and giant bags of cans/bottles in tow… which makes it difficult to navigate.

    It’s worth mentioning that I rode northbound this morning around 7:45 a.m. and didn’t see any signage about this, which is annoying. When they closed the Broadway Bridge path the other week they had an alert up way ahead of time.

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    • q`Tzal July 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      ODOT & PBOT could really stand to put up warning signs far in advance of bike & ped path closures to the same standards as are required for full lane road construction closures.

      Be it days or weeks the number will be explicitly dictated in some rule book; why should bike lanes, MUPs and sidewalks be treated less so?

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    • Paul in the 'couve July 31, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      But which side is the “correct” side. Old timers in the area know (or claim pretty consistently from what I’ve seen) that the only official guidance form the joint ODOT / WADOT management is that cyclist should ride North on the West side and South on the East side – which I feel is riding “the wrong way.”

      At one point a few years ago after a similar thread on BikePortland.org I decided to go with the rules and ride counterflow. After a year or so of that I decided to screw the whole issue. I ride whatever side is most convenient for my trip. I don’t go out of my way to ride one side or the other.

      Reasoning: I am equally likely to be interacting with a cyclist going the opposite way regardless what I do. Add in pedestrians heading the same way who can’t see me coming and can’t hear my bell over traffic and it’s pointless to think either side is “correct” unless ODOT & WADOT agree on signage.

      As Nathan mentioned “Take it slow” also be careful, yield to others, be nice. Smile, wave, say thank you.

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      • Serena July 31, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        To me, the ‘correct’ side of the bridge is the same as the ‘correct’ side of the road. You ride your bike with traffic, and you walk against traffic. This way, pedestrians can see when traffic is coming towards them, and vice versa. I’m unclear on why you would ride on the opposite side just because it’s a bridge, but maybe I’m missing something.

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        • Paul in the 'couve July 31, 2013 at 2:42 pm

          Nope, not missing a thing. Makes sense to me. Pedestrians should go against traffic and cyclists with traffic.

          Apparently, somewhere, the joint DOT decision was bikes go contra-flow.

          The first 3 or 4 times I road the bridges back in the mid-90’s I ran into cyclist running “the wrong way” and being ignorant and young and self-righteous I confronted them. I got skooled each time….. usually with spittle… the rule on the bridge is contra-flow. I still didn’t believe it (but stopped arguing) until as I mentioned there have been threads on bikePortland.org. I think at least 2, maybe mentioned more times.

          What it would take is the two respective DOTs agreeing jointly on clarifying the rule and agreeing on signage and installing it. The request has been made in the past, but apparently not loud enough.

          Until something terrible happens, or a new bridge or path is built, it is probably going to stay the way it is.

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          • Serena July 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm

            Hmm… I am going to double check on my ride home tonight, but I’m pretty sure the green bike path directional signs support traditional bike flow over the bridge, with an arrow pointing to Vancouver leading you through a loop, and up to the east side to go north.

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  • Peter W July 31, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Is there a link to the statement? I’m curious what the purpose for the closure is.

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  • Serena July 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Just an update – there is either no signage or very little, easy-to-miss signage. I saw someone go up the northbound side so there’s obviously nothing blocking that pathway and insufficient signage to direct people otherwise.

    Kind of disappointing that ODOT can’t even do cyclists the courtesy of an orange sign before they go up the path or something…

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    • Paul in the 'couve July 31, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      I just rode it. Nothing. I rode the North bound span at 10:30 PM or so. No sign of any signs, and no sign of any work. certainly no closure.

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      • Serena August 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

        I saw nothing last night after work too. But this morning there was a TINY (I’m talking 8.5×11 paper) paper notice posted at the fork where you would turn to go up to the northbound path. Then there was a CLOSED sign at the top of the hill before you get on the actual bridge. I saw two folks have to come back down the hill after getting to that sign, though, because obviously a tiny white paper sign is not something you notice going 10+mph.

        I disagree with Todd. At least the signage isn’t in the middle of the bridge, but it is very poor, and there wasn’t really any advanced notice. If I didn’t happen to come on BP yesterday, I wouldn’t have known about it. Fellow bike commuters in my office had no idea until they tried to ride it this morning.

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    • Jessica Horning August 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

      Serena and Paul,
      We were able to reopen the sidewalk yesterday evening/overnight while there were no workers or equipment on the bridge. The detour signage should be back in place today when the northbound sidewalk closure resumes. Please let me know if there is no signage next time you ride though.
      Jessica Horning – ODOT Region 1 Active Transportation Liaison

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      • Paul in the 'couve August 1, 2013 at 9:34 am

        Thanks Jessica!

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  • Mark C July 31, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Glad last week was my last working in Vancouver, so I don’t have to deal with this. As far as yielding, I would recommend that the person closest to the traffic lanes yields – easier for them to step between the girders and out of the way.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 31, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    And I wish to thank ODoT (Jessica and others) on their efforts to sign and give advance notice for this and other maintenance detours.

    Not too long ago – it was more common for bike commuters to reach the middle of the 5 bridge to only be told then the bridge path was closed.

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  • Jessica Horning August 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    NB Sidewalk is reopened as of today. Thanks to some hard work from ODOT’s maintenance crews, they were able to finish their work several days ahead of schedule.

    Thanks for your patience!

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