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ODOT says $3 million project to raise overpass 18 inches has no budget to add a sidewalk

Posted by on May 15th, 2015 at 9:51 am

strawberry lane overpass

The overpass is being raised so that large-load trucks can drive under it rather than detouring onto Strawberry Lane.
(Images: Google Street View)

Despite receiving a dozen public requests to add sidewalks to an overpass it’s planning to raise by 18 inches, the Oregon Department of Transportation says there’s no room for them in the $3 million project.

Instead, ODOT will add a five-foot-wide striped walking and biking lane on the bridge’s eastbound side. The road-level lane will be marked with a pedestrian symbol.

The Strawberry Lane bridge south of Clackamas is the only crossing of Interstate 205 for one mile in each direction.

As reported Wednesday by the Clackamas Review, the purpose of the project is to raise the overpass enough to prevent most large-load trucks from having to detour onto Strawberry Lane in order to avoid the relatively low bridge.

Without the bridge-raising project, more large trucks would begin using Strawberry Lane because their current detour on 82nd Drive is being blocked by the state’s $118 million construction of a new highway, state route 224. According to the official project website, construction is scheduled to begin in late spring or early summer and wrap up by late summer.

“Why is there no mention of a sidewalk?”

As the Review’s Raymond Rendleman reported, of the 36 comments ODOT received or answered during its local public outreach on the project last year, 12 of them asked for essentially the same thing:

Increase pedestrian and bike availability – the current situation is scary and dangerous, but the Strawberry overpass is a vital connector to east-side shopping, dining, recreation, and other opportunities which are not immediately available to the abundance of pedestrians and bikers living on the west side (of the interstate).

We live on Tiffany Ct. and would love to be able to walk to the park on Strawberry Lane. We have 3 teenagers as well as 3 dogs that would love to be able to walk there. Unfortunately, there are no sidewalks or even a bike lane on Strawberry Lane between 205 and 82nd, and there’s none on the bridge either. Would it be possible to add a sidewalk or bike lane, even on just one side? This would be a great asset to the residents on Tiffany Ct, as well as all the residents of the apartments on 82nd just up from Strawberry Lane.

I’m concerned about the lack of additional improvement to the overpass. Why is there no mention of a sidewalk?

I have a daughter that lives on the West side of I-205 and I cross that overpass frequently in my car and there is always pedestrians crossing that bridge to access the sidewalks to Fred Meyers and other businesses on the East side of I-205. It is extremely dangerous with the arch of the bridge and visibility of both pedestrians and drivers coming up on each other, and now the arch is going to be even higher! What are you folks thinking? That route is a full use road! There are bicycles, pedestrians and cars that use that overpass 24/7 and there is already a safety issue now, and you folks are going to make it worse for bikes and pedestrians with no improvement!

What’s up with that?

Sounds like the only thing ODOT is concerned about is truckers moving product and zero concern for public safety!

While making the bridge safe for pedestrians is probably beyond the scope of the project, it does seem reasonable that some improvements could be made on the approaches to the actual bridge structure.

Since some re-grading and retaining walls are required, I would hope that at least the approaches would have some improvements for pedestrians. Obviously the bridge doesn’t meet modern standards, but it would be a shame to see it raised for over-sized loads and seismically retrofitted without addressing the extreme hazards pedestrians face using the bridge.

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Can ODOT add a sidewalk or bike lane on Strawberry Lane between I-205 and 82nd Drive as part of this project?

It would have been nice to have a ped-friendly width on the bridge.

Bikes and people are hazard on bridge.

Screenshot 2015-05-15 at 10.19.16 AM

Strawberry Lane near 82nd, east of the bridge.

Would be nice to have more space for walkers/bikers.

We need a walking path on Strawberry Lane.

Pedestrians and bicyclists are a potential hazard on narrow bridge.

This JTA project needs to include addition of ped/bike crossing. One suggestion is hanging lightweight structure off bridge structure. Another is detached within R/W or alternate location within 600 ft.

Last night I attended the Clackamas CPO (Community Planning Organization). There was a concern about the lifting of the Strawberry Lane overpass because the design lacks sidewalks and bike lanes. Does anyone have any information on this? (forwarded to ODOT by Metro)

In its responses last year, ODOT offered the same answer to each of these people:

Unfortunately, adding a sidewalk or a bike lane is not in ODOT’s budget as a component of this project at this time but it doesn’t preclude adding a sidewalk or bike lane sometime in the future.

However, at the request of Clackamas County, ODOT has since agreed to narrow the travel lanes and paint a white stripe onto the north side of the bridge to mark a space for biking or walking, and to mark the space with a pedestrian symbol. The state transportation agency also plans to add sharrow markings in the general travel lanes to indicate that people are allowed to bike on the east-side ramp off the bridge.

ODOT says it is also considering allowing the speed limit on Strawberry Lane to fall to 25 mph. The street is currently posted at 35 mph.

ODOT: Raised sidewalk would have created biking-walking conflicts

Screenshot 2015-05-14 at 3.05.56 PM

ODOT’s description of the project benefits.

Jessica Horning, ODOT’s regional transit and active transportation liaison, said Thursday that rebuilding the bridge to widen it would have increased the project cost 10 times or more. She said she didn’t know whether anyone considered the feasibility of hanging structures from the sides of the bridge, but that she assumed someone would have.

Could the vehicular lanes be narrowed further? Horning said they are as narrow as they can reasonably get — 10 feet eastbound, 11 feet westbound — given the fact that they have to carry TriMet’s No. 79 bus line.

What about creating a raised five-foot-wide sidewalk? She said that was out because of possible cost considerations and because it might create conflicts between people walking and people who would choose to bike on what would be a steep uphill sidewalk.

“It seemed like doing a stripe you could let the bikes and the pedestrians use the space with more flexibility,” Horning said. “It’s one of those projects that we couldn’t get the ideal, but we did a pretty good job of using the space pretty creatively.”

Horning said that though the roadway is being “relocated” upward and would therefore seem to trigger Oregon’s law requiring all such projects to include bikeways and walkways, “we are providing pedestrian and bicycle accomodations” in the form of the painted biking-walking lane and the sharrow markings.

Gwenn Laubach Alvarez of the Clackamas County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Council said in an email Thursday that when ODOT spoke to her council, the council “made it clear that it wasn’t pleased with the proposals.”

“There are certain members of the Clackamas County Commission who oppose any road funding that isn’t funneled into improving highways and existing conditions for commercial traffic,” Laubach Alvarez said. “ODOT is not immune to feeling the pressure from those commercial interests.”

Screenshot 2015-05-15 at 10.20.32 AM

Speaking Wednesday at a demonstration that urged ODOT to prioritize safety for people driving, walking and biking on its roads above speed or traffic capacity, ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said “we prioritize the issues based on safety” and that the agency is “already putting a lot of money into a lot of safety projects” on its dangerous streets.

He said that ODOT’s safety improvements on dangerous streets can take years to implement because the agency needs time to hear from its stakeholders.

Thanks to Clackamas Review reporter Raymond Rendleman for forwarding us the transcript of public comments received by ODOT.

Correction 5/19: An earlier version of this post said the legal speed limit across the bridge was unspecified. It’s 35 mph.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Scott Mizée
Guest

Huh? I want to hear the rest of the story… It just doesn’t all make sense.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This seems like a waste of $3 million. How many trucks have to detour each year? Given the exits just north and south of this bridge, it seems that 82nd is an easy detour that would barely add travel time for the tiny amount of vehicles that cannot fit under this bridge.

Allan
Guest
Allan

What about making this a 1-lane bridge. In case you aren’t getting it- they aren’t rebuilding the bridge, just lifting it

jeg
Guest
jeg

First this: Unfortunately, adding a sidewalk or a bike lane is not in ODOT’s budget as a component of this project at this time but it doesn’t preclude adding a sidewalk or bike lane sometime in the future.

Then this: Horning said that though the roadway is being “relocated” upward and would therefore seem to trigger Oregon’s law requiring all such projects to include bikeways and walkways, “we are providing pedestrian and bicycle accomodations” in the form of the painted biking-walking lane and the sharrow markings.

So ODOT was willing to illegally upgrade the project before they realized that would be against the law? Is that what is happening here. ODOT needs to be disbanded and rebuilt from the ground up– it is corrupt to its core with only supporting freight and speed at the cost of all else.

John Lascurettes
Guest

Put a stop sign at either end, make it a one-lane bridge with wide MUPs on each side. Every car must come to a stop and yield to the oncoming car waiting on the other side. Make the guzzlers second-class citizens for once. The shipping lobby is already getting its way on the freeway below.

John
Guest
John

Time for another die-in!

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

Once again, goods movement continues to be the most highly subsidized mode of transportation while other ones don’t even get crumbs.

Time to keep pressuring them though. Also, work on having it a policy that anytime any work is done to a bridge, or a new bridge is going to be made, that wide cycling and walking paths be part of it. It should just be standard and expected everywhere.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

ODOT is doing its best for safety, my ass.

John
Guest
John

I’m sure that this will be filed under “crazy ideas from out of touch anti-business pinko commie”, but why not just keep the bridge as-is and decrease the height of large-load trucks that are allowed on the roads?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…What about creating a raised five-foot-wide sidewalk? She said that was out because of possible cost considerations and because it might create conflicts between people walking and people who would choose to bike on what would be a steep uphill sidewalk. …” bikeportland

As an option to enable and support safe use of the bridge, a raised five-foot-wide sidewalk should not be considered “out”, at least until some idea of cost to install one is established and considered.

Jessica Horning, ODOT’s regional transit and active transportation liaison, is the ‘She’ mentioned in the above excerpt. Ms Horning would do well to come up with a little better answer from her department. The top picture accompanying this story shows someone walking on an existing sidewalk on the bridge; very narrow, guessing 24″: Widen that sidewalk an additional 3 feet doesn’t seem like something that would be a big expense.

Conflicts between people walking and people biking on a five foot bridge sidewalk, is a serious consideration. There likely will be some conflicts of that sort, but for people on foot especially, that may be less worse than having to walk on the bridge deck on a painted off bike-pedestrian lane.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Unfortunately by not suing ODOT over their failure to follow the law on the St. John’s Bridge in 2005 the BTA waved the white flag in general on this issue. The only thing that was keeping ODOT honest was the threat of a lawsuit and without that they now feel they can do whatever they want.

peejay
Guest

I appreciate that there might be good people at ODOT just like there might be good officers in the Baltimore Police Department, but sometimes, I think they are all tainted just by working there.

This is a case in point.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

“We’re doing our best.”

Your best isn’t good enough.

Brad
Guest
Brad

More substandard infrastructure from ODOT designed to kill pedestrians and cyclists so drivers can shave 1 minute off their drive time.

Nick Falbo
Guest
Nick Falbo

This is a great spot for an advisory bike lane. The visibility isn’t ideal because of the crest of the bridge, but the traffic volumes are low enough that 6 ft advisory shoulders could be added to each side of the roadway.

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

From the recent die-in at ODOT offices:

Standing on the sidewalk nearby, ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said the agency was “already putting a lot of money into a lot of safety projects”… “We’ve got fairly aggressive safety projects going in on them all right now,” he said.

ODOT response to actual project:

“Unfortunately, adding a sidewalk or a bike lane is not in ODOT’s budget as a component of this project at this time but it doesn’t preclude adding a sidewalk or bike lane sometime in the future.”

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

ODOT says it is also considering allowing the speed limit on Strawberry Lane to fall to 25 mph. The street currently has no posted speed limit, so the only legal restriction is that speeds must be “reasonable and prudent.”

being that it’s all residential it should already be at 25…

excessively high speeds limits are another ODOT failure…

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

A few years back I e-mailed the project manager of the hanging walk/bikeway on the south side of the Lombard-Marine drive overpass of the Columbia River Slough near the entrance of Kelly Point Park.

Admitedly it was constructed mostly from spare parts, but is came is at about $12 a square foot. Someone needs to ask for all the ODOT communications about ‘The assumption someome looked into this.”

If ODOT did not, or has a REALLY good reason WHY this can not happen, this is a lawsuit. Why shoukld we trust ODOT with a Vision Zero idea with projects like this?

A White stripe? Paint?

jenkins
Guest
jenkins

The ODOT position is outrageous.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

ODOT, Don Hamilton, this is insulting. That neighborhood needs increased walkability.

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

Is there any way to stop these projects unless ODOT adds these ped/bike improvements to the budget? Can they budget them in to the project in the first place, and then that is the total cost of the project. That way bike/ped enhancements won’t be thought of as separate projects that will most likely never have the funding. Or no?
As a whole I’m getting pretty sick of ODOT. I kinda want to throw them away wholly. Not recycle or compost them, just directly toss ’em in to the landfill.

jeg
Guest
jeg

I’m sorry, but maybe we have to go here. You know how Fritz got the wires for highways so quickly pushed through? We need to convince Fritz that bike safety is JUST AS IMPORTANT for lives like her husband’s.

Jeff TB
Guest
Jeff TB

If pedestrians had to register their shoes, there would be money for sidewalks.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I also wonder if this project is bringing this overpass up to current seismic standards. If not, it seems like they should hold out until they can fund a full replacement with bike lanes and sidewalks, built to current seismic standards.

ODOT’s road budget should be entirely devoted to safety improvements, seismic projects, and repaving. No capacity expansion until every bridge in the state is safe and all roads can be accessed by all users.

davemess
Guest
davemess

SO am I missing something. I get that most people on here don’t think this is an optimal (or the perfect) solution. But most of the comments to the project were asking for just SOME kind of improvement. And a shared ped/bike lane is some improvement (in fact one of the comments even specifically suggested it), and does address a number of the comments that were submitted. It appears many of the people got what they were wanting.

rick
Guest
rick

sad

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Assuming that this project moves forward and there is no ADA suit…

Come on engineers, y’all are creative types…I guess their ODoT management did not ask the right questions for the SOW and have them “solve’ the problem at this opportunity.

ODoT/ Governor’s Transportation Secretary, note to self…to remember to include active transportation and ADA in project scoping for retrofits and maintenance activities.

(That posit note on the your computer monitor keeps falling down onto the floor, dang need some tape…now where did my assistants put it?!)

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Ok, Making design lemonade out of this situation:
– add a 2 inch lift of asphalt with rolled curb transition to the multimodal section (keep at grade near any catch basin);
– lower speed limit to 25 mph (or 20) and add a 3M type active speed watch MPH sign;
– add reflectorized pavement markers inset into the asphalt to help delineate the path zone for poor wether conditions, the RPMs can be spaced far enough apart to not effect cyclists; and
– make sure the path transitions well at both ends to function well for cyclists and safety.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Safety first!!!!

Patrick Barber
Guest

Walking lane? That’s the first I’ve heard of such a thing.

Peter W
Guest

“Jessica Horning, ODOT’s regional transit and active transportation liaison, said Thursday that rebuilding the bridge to widen it would have increased the project cost 10 times or more.”

Is it ten times? Or is it more? How do you not know?

“She said she didn’t know whether anyone considered the feasibility of hanging structures from the sides of the bridge, but that she assumed someone would have.”

How do you know it was ten times, if you don’t know if anyone considered feasibility of potentially cheaper options?

Also, what would the cost of a standalone structure be?

“adding a sidewalk or a bike lane is not in ODOT’s budget as a component of this project at this time but it doesn’t preclude adding a sidewalk or bike lane sometime in the future.”

OK but what is the cost difference? How much would it actually (specifically, please) cost to add sidewalks while this major project is underway, and how much would it cost to add sidewalks as a standalone project later? Oh and ODOT… if you don’t have the motivation to do it now, why on earth would you do it later?

ODOT’s arguments are fine. Fine like a fine swiss cheese. Full of holes.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

http://bikeportland.org/2012/11/27/meet-jessica-horning-odots-new-active-transportation-liaison-79427
the bloom is off the rose. How does one morph from being the ‘active transportation liason’ to ‘apologist’? Painful

J_R
Guest
J_R

This is all the proof we need that ODOT does NOT prioritize safety for bicyclists and pedestrians and that Portland is maybe a Bronze city, but definitely not a Platinum city.

Charley
Guest
Charley

What the (*&^ is a walking lane? Is that like, when you are forced to walk in the street because ODOT doesn’t see fit to pave a sidewalk? I’m looking at you Powell Boulevard. Classic ODOT: safety last.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…The Strawberry Lane bridge south of Clackamas is the only crossing of Interstate 205 for one mile in each direction.

As reported Wednesday by the Clackamas Review, the purpose of the project is to raise the overpass enough to prevent most large-load trucks from having to detour onto Strawberry Lane in order to avoid the relatively low bridge. …” bikeportland

I also read the Tribune story to try figure out for sure if the above excerpt is saying that part of the purpose of the bridge raising, is to eliminate the need for 1-205 truck traffic, (too tall to get under the bridge), to exit 205 and take the Strawberry Bridge ove 205.

If so, the bridge raising stands to reduce some of the truck traffic using the Strawberry. That truck traffic reduction alone, would be a benefit to people using the bridge on foot and bike. How many trucks a day would that be? Also an important consideration is what is the bridges’ daily amount of motor vehicle traffic.

The Odd Duck
Guest
The Odd Duck

We have the same problem in Red Bluff, Ca. There is a very narrow walkway on the I-5 overpass, rather that do a major engineering project of the bridge, it would more simpler to add a prefab walking bridge to either side of the overpass. Just put in some foundation and add the bridge.

dan
Guest
dan

Disgraceful but not surprising.

J_R
Guest
J_R

In 2000-01, ODOT undertook an upgrade project for the Ross Island Bridge. In doing that, they narrowed the really narrow curbed area on the south side of the bridge and slightly widened the sidewalk on the north side. I attended the open houses and hearings along with many other people trying to get ODOT to install a wider sidewalk on both sides or a barrier between the cars and sidewalk. They claimed they couldn’t do it due to the weight and structure.

I continue to believe that they could have done both of those things if they had chosen to get rid of the massive, decorative concrete railings on the bridge. What’s frustrating is that the concrete railings were not adequate to stop crashing vehicles, which is why there are steel railings mounted on the bridge that hide the decorative concrete railings. The historic preservation advocates got what they wanted: save the decorative concrete railings; ODOT got steel crash railings; and pedestrians and bicyclists got a shared use path that was only slightly better than what was there before, but didn’t get a facility that protects them from motor vehicles and doesn’t attract much use.

That was 15 years ago. It doesn’t seem like we’ve advanced all that much.

Matt- Bike Milwaukie
Guest

I’d really like to see a follow up to this story about the major construction project happening on 205 & 224 just a bit north of the Strawberry Lane project. There is a missing section of the 205 bike path in that area, and they are not fixing that as part of the project.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Since the overpass we are discussing is in Clackamas county, and since the ODOT is following the wishes of the Clackamas commissioners, and Portland has no say in the matter we should round up the commissioners and families and force them to walk both ways over the overpass WITHOUT MARKERS for a day and then let them vote on it if there are any survivors.

o/o
Guest
o/o

I used to live near the street. I often rode, walked and drove on the overpass across the I-205. It used to be a quiet street. When new development came, it became a bit busier. On the overpass there is no shoulder. It can be a bit hairy sometimes. Poor sight line. You d want to walk against the traffic.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

The strength of a bridge is a requirement of the unsupported span, and has little to do with load, and much with length. Adding a sidewalk _and_ a bike lane to each side would not require much change to the basic supporting structure, which they will have to modify to raise it anyway. But then, ODOT would actually have to have a real engineer get out a real slide rule or a real calculator, and spend some time doing real math. Easier just to engage car-head and blow off lesser forms of transportation (Yes, major snark).

Real Engineer=Structural Engineer with Bachelor’s degree, not someone incapable of reading a NACTO manual.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Maybe whoever gives Jessica Horning her talking points didn’t get this memo:
http://bikeportland.org/2013/05/22/odot-launches-initiative-to-move-away-from-highway-centric-approach-87172

kittens
Guest
kittens

If ODOT wants to remain a going concern it needs to represent all parts of the state especially those at the local level near projects. The fact that comments are routinely ignored is just further proof the public process is broken.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

If ODOT did not have to take orders from the freight industry, they could forget about this project and apply the $3M to Barbur.

Chickenman
Guest
Chickenman

A one lane road wouldn’t work here. There isn’t great visibility for a yield or stop situation. Also, there is not much room between the structure and 82nd Drive. A traffic signal would back traffic onto 82nd Drive. I think the proposed improvements are good for what there is to work with, certainly a much better situation than exists today.

Eric
Guest
Eric

The bridge to no-where. That what Strawberry is. Unless you live off of Strawberrry and work in the Evelyn/Jennifer industrial area and you really want to ride your bike to work, there is little need for a bike facilities. There are better options north and south of there (82nd Dr, 224). And chances are you are probably coming from the north or south anyway.

Its a bridge to an industrial area that I never see cyclists in. I live in the area (just north up 205) and worked down in the that industrial area for several years back in 2008.

I bet if people raised a stink and protested/demanded etc etc, and they did magically find a chunk a money to build a new bridge, the bike lanes would remain pristine and unused for many years afterward.

Spend the $3M Raise the bridge, and save any additional money for more important ODOT projects where cyclists are actually present and their safety is in danger (barbur, 82nd, etc).

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

This whole discussion is meaningless without some perspective about the number of cyclists and pedestrians using the bridge. I am a cyclist and a serious pedestrian (meaning, I don’t feel safe riding my bike in the city and do all my errands walking). I live in an area with few sidewalks. I just adapt my walking. I always walk facing traffic, waiting to cross a street if I need to to face traffic. Very few people actually walk where I live. Building sidewalks for a small number of walkers is not only a waste of money, but results in lots of concrete, something our environment has plenty of.