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New path link will open in time to greet Sellwood Bridge, County says

Posted by on July 22nd, 2014 at 10:07 am

sellwood path

An edited overhead map of the new path (highlighted in orange) along the west side of the Willamette River, with east up and Macadam Avenue along the bottom.
(Map: November 2011 Multnomah County open house, edited by BikePortland)

Noting that the current detour along a narrow Macadam Avenue sidewalk “has some challenges,” Multnomah County says it’ll open its much-improved path along the Willamette River by the time the new Sellwood Bridge is ready next year.

“The conditions there are not great, but it is not our road. Better facilities are coming soon… “
— Mike Pullen, Multnomah County

“We definitely do not want to rely on [the detour] after the new bridge opens, because the new bridge will attract a lot more bicyclists and pedestrians,” county spokesman Mike Pullen wrote in an email Friday.

Pullen noted that once the path is open, it’ll create a vastly improved alternative to biking on the current sidewalk along Macadam, which (as a state highway) is beyond the county’s control. We wrote last week about the many problems with that sidewalk, which for the last year has added quite a bit of bike traffic between the driveway to the Macadam Bay Club floating home community and SW Nevada Street as people are diverted during construction.

narrow sidewalk

Bike users are halfway through a two-year detour from the riverside trail to this sidewalk.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

“The conditions there are not great, but it is not our road,” Pullen wrote. “Better facilities are coming soon in an area that has long needed them.”


The new Sellwood Bridge, which will have two 12-foot-wide shared-use sidewalks and also use green pavement to mark two 6.5-foot on-street bike lanes, is expected to open “probably in late 2015,” Pullen said.

bridge cross-section

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the county’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee have been urging the county to open the new off-road path in time for the new bridge rather than in late 2016, as the county estimated this spring when it decided to save an estimated $70,000 by not building a temporary bridge for biking and walking.

Early this month, the county said there was a chance to open the path along the haul road by the time the new bridge opens rather than continuing to divert people toward the sidewalk. Pullen’s email confirmed this change of plans.

work path

Part of the current haul road for construction
vehicles will become the new shared riverside path.

“We appreciate the patience of everyone who has been using the detour,” Pullen wrote. “We’ve made safety improvements along the detour and we have some more changes coming this summer (mostly signage and striping).”

As for the new path, Pullen wrote, “the trail will be adjacent to a construction haul road, so we will need to have a good traffic plan in place to keep everyone safe.”

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oliverTed Buehlermaccoinnichdavemessspencer Recent comment authors
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I’m still in complete shock (two years later) that we are getting FOUR bike lanes on the bridge!!!!!

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
kiel johnson

yesterday new commuter came into bike valet looking a little startled. Said she had just biked from sellwood. I told her, “yeah that bridge can be hairy” and she replied that no, it was the detour that had frightened her the most.

Not sure I get the shared lane vs. green painted bike lane. Are people on bikes allowed in the shared lane? Is it designed for slower riders and the green for faster?


Playing around with the new 2035 Comprehensive Plan website ( last night, I noticed there’s a plan to extend the greenway trail south of the Sellwood Bridge, as far as the county line. The estimated cost is $500,000, which seems like great value, although the difficult part will be extending to Lake Oswego past. Does anyone know how real this project this is?

PS – there’s a TON of interesting stuff in that website. Would love to see a bikeportland post about it. *cough* Jonathan *cough* Michael.


awesome another bike friendly bridge.

Adam H.
Adam H.

Why does it look like there are train tracks in the car lanes in the rendering?

Craig Harlow
Craig Harlow

What on earth is a wheelchair user to do along this route?

Scott H
Scott H

Holy smokes! Is the timing a coincidence or was the decision influenced by the recent bikeportland coverage?

Craig Harlow
Craig Harlow

Since the roadway isn’t under the county’s authority, do they (or the city) have the authority to issue temporary safety-founded condemnataions to private parking lot owners and establish a meager bike route that links among the parking lots that abut the abysmally-narrow sidewalk? Not saying it’s the best idea, just wondering if it’s (a) possible, (b) reasonable.

Ted Buehler

If ya’all want to see the interim route fixed immediately, take a tape measure and make a thick line at 32″ with a felt tip pen.

Go out and take a photo of all the pinch points.

Anything less than 32″ is out of compliance for the 1990 ADA Act. As per section 4, “Accessible Routes, Figure 403.5.1 Clear Width of an Accessible Route p. 118

Send the pics to One email per location, one pic per email, and a street address or landmark where the spot is. They’ll widen everything to 32″ pretty quick.

Spots wider than 32,” but plainly too narrow for safe operation of a bicycle? Send a pic, with the measurements, and say it’s on a heavily traveled bike route, can they look into making some improvements. Results will be variable, but there’s a good chance some of these could be fixed.

Alternately, just email the city and ask for them to review the entire detour route for bicycle operation.

If someone sends in the emails, we’ll see some action. If not, well, it was good enough for the first year, I suspect PBOT figures its good enough for another year or two.

Ted Buehler