Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on August 21st, 2014 at 6:44 am
A key bike connection between Southeast and inner North/Northeast Portland keeps getting a bit better.
The latest improvement to Northeast 11th Avenue and Holladay comes courtesy of track work last week by TriMet at its Lloyd Center MAX turnaround. The transit agency prioritized repairs to the track there in part because the crumbling pavement around the tracks had been increasingly dangerous for biking.
11th Avenue is the fastest connection not only between the MAX stop and the Lloyd Center mall, just up the street, but between two of the bikingest neighborhoods in the country: inner North and inner Southeast Portland. It connects the 12th Avenue bridge across Interstate 84 with the Multnomah Avenue protected bike lane, Rose Quarter and Vancouver/Williams couplet.
Last fall, 11th Avenue was striped with dashed, arcing bike lanes that help people steer safely across the tracks at 90-degree angles. And as of last week, it’s much more comfortable to bike on — not to mention walk across, skate on, look at or drive a MAX train over.
“We replaced the asphalt with an elastomeric grout, which looks like concrete that is more durable than asphalt, and absorbs vibration and dramatically reduces noise caused by vibration,” TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetch wrote in an email Wednesday in response to a query from BikePortland. “It also prevents water penetration and bonds strongly to steel and concrete. It is now a much smoother crossing and the track and switches in the area will serve MAX riders for years to come.”
You can see the new grout surrounding the rails in the photos above and below.
The $1.26 million project blocked all MAX traffic through the Lloyd District last week, prompting a one-day “thank you” from the transit agency in the form of a fare-free day on MAX Monday.
The work also left behind a smooth area of light-colored pavement in the busy, unmarked crosswalk across 11th at Holladay.
Fetsch wrote that TriMet had prioritized this work in part to keep the area safe for walking and biking, in part because the tracks were simply at risk of malfunctioning and in part because trains were moving extra-slowly through the area to prevent such malfunctions.
“There are many factors that go into creating the replacement schedule,” she wrote. “We had received concerns and complaints from pedestrians and cyclist, elevating this location on the replacement schedule. The track structure and switches also had excessive wear and needed attention. We had a slow order, or speed restriction, on that switch as a precaution for two years that we were able to lift since the work has been completed.”