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First look at city’s plans for bike/walk bridge over I-405 at Flanders

Posted by on December 4th, 2015 at 2:57 pm

flanderslead

The new bridge in place with NW Glisan in upper left and Everett in lower right.
(PBOT)

At long last the City of Portland has a clear and solid plan for building a biking and walking bridge over I-405 at Northwest Flander St. Now all they need is $3 million from the Oregon Department of Transportation to build it.

pbotbridge2

As we shared last month, the transportation bureau has submitted applications to Connect Oregon, a state lottery-backed funding program that aims to fund transportation projects that are not on highway right-of-way (and therefore can’t be paid for with gas tax revenues).

Currently pedestrians and bicyclists crossing I-405 must negotiate high-stress roadway overcrossings that include freeway interchange on and off ramps, high traffic volumes and speeds, and poor pedestrian and bicycle connectivity.
— from PBOT grant application

According to the grant application which we obtained through a public records request PBOT estimates the total cost of the Flanders Crossing Active Transportation Bridge to be $6 million. If they receive half of that from ODOT, they’ll pay for the other half with System Development Charges.

Along with the bridge, PBOT will finally build the Flanders Street Neighborhood Greenway which will create a low-stress bicycling route from NW 24th Avenue at the base of the West Hills all the way to the lower path of the Steel Bridge and the Willamette River (PBOT has also applied for grant funding for a new bikeway crossing of NW Naito at Flanders, we’ll share more details on that next week). The new bridge would also come with new signalized crossings on NW 16th and 14th.

I-405 has long been known as a barrier to this key east-west route because of a lack of safe crossings for people on bikes and on foot. The two nearby streets — Everett and Glisan — both lack sidewalks on one side and require people to cross freeway on and off-ramps. “These high-stress crossings are enough to dissuade large segments of the population,” the city’s application states, “from choosing to walk or bike to work or other destinations in the Central City despite such close proximity.”

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A biking and walking-only bridge over I-405 has been in the city’s plan for nearly a decade. It was mentioned in Portland’s Transportation System Plan in 2007. The Flanders Bikeway is classified in the Portland Bicyle Plan for 2030 as a Major City Bikeway.

The bridge design itself isn’t finalized, but PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera says the leading candidate right now is a steel structure that would offer 24-feet of right-of-way.

X Section C-2

The current cross-section under consideration would split that space up between two six-foot sidewalks and two six-foot bike lanes. Rivera said PBOT feels 12 feet in each direction will be adequate for the expected daily capacity of the bridge. According to traffic demand models, PBOT expects over 9,000 bike and walk trips over the bridge by 2035. (By way of comparison, the Hawthorne Bridge has 10-foot wide shared bike/walkways and handles about 8,200 trips per day.)

The model projects 9,135 users in 2035. That is a figure for total users: bike and pedestrian. An educated guess would suggest 2/3 of those trips would be by bike, so roughly 6,000 bike trips in 2035. For comparison purposes, you might think of the peak summer counts on the Hawthorne at about 8,000, and the peak summer counts for the Steel and Broadway, which are currently about 4,500.

One thing that will impact usage of this bridge are the 17 large employers in the immediate area and the 21,292 people they employ.

There’s one key aspect of this new Flanders Bridge that PBOT hopes makes it even more competitive in the grant process: They’ve designed it to be an emergency lifeline route in the event of a major earthquake or other emergency. PBOT engineers say it would be designed in such a way to be, “operational following the most probabale earthquake to occur within 500 years.”

Bolstering the city’s case for this project is resounding support from advocates, nearby residents and businesses. Letters of support have been written from: PBOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committees, Bicyle Transportation Alliance, NW District Association, Pearl District Neighborhood Association, Old Town Chinatown Community Association, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, Nob Hill Business Association, Pearl District Business Association, Pacific NW College of Art, and Vestas.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it’s because a bridge at Flanders was first proposed by PBOT back in 2006. Former Mayor Sam Adams wanted to recycle the old Sauvie Island Bridge and place it over I-405. The project had broad support, but also detractors who claimed it wasn’t equitable to invest in the central city while east Portland still lacked basic infrastructure. The idea was ultimately shelved in 2008.

While the politics are likely to be easier this time around, the grant award is by no means a done deal. Competition is fierce as this project will compete against port, rail, marine, and other biking and walking projects around the state. ODOT received over $91 million in requests and they have only $45 million to hand out. The winners will be chosen by the Oregon Transportation Commission and announced in August 2016. Rivera said PBOT estimates if funding comes through the new bridge could open in 2019.

“It would be transformative for Northwest Portland,” he added.

This is one of five bikeway projects PBOT has applied for. We’ll take a closer look at the others next week.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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Guest
reader

Is $3,000,000 the true price or the liar’s budget?

Spiffy
Subscriber

unless they put a stop light at each end it’s still going to be a horrible crossing… those are a couple of the worst streets to walk on in that area…

brandon van buskirk
Guest
brandon van buskirk

Well we know that at least one side will have a stoplight: “The new bridge would also come with new signalized crossings on NW 16th and 14th.”

jake
Subscriber
jake

I think this is great.

Absent a buffered lane on Glisan, Flanders is the next best option going west, and it really is dreadful right now: fairly high volume of traffic, lots of speeding, which is made worse by the hill as you approach 24th, and crossing 21st/23rd is never too fun. And likewise, the worst part of heading east is once you get to the I-405 overpass on Everett, so if this project comes together like they say I think it’s gonna be pretty neat. If nothing else, a vast improvement to the current situation. Please add some diverters to Flanders though 🙂

Glad PBOT applied for a grant here. Hope it all works out.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Waste of money! You get two whole blocks of semi-calm riding/pedestrian space in an already relatively bike and ped friendly neighborhood with heavy traffic, especially during rush hours at both NW 16th and NW 13th. Honestly, if “interested but concerned” is afraid of the bridges at Everett and Glisan, crossing NW 16th will scare the bejeezus out of them. In addition, I can see lots of riders getting creamed at NW 13th and Davis since the existing stop signs are now largely ignored by riders and peds alike.

A better use of funds would be to put the aforementioned crossings on a road diet and improve the bike lanes/sidewalks. New signals were just added on both roads at NW 13th which should help calm the east/west auto traffic significantly.

dan
Guest
dan

Why mess around with half measures? Let’s cap the freeway from Clay to Glisan and build a park on top!

Adam
Subscriber

This looks fantastic. Will this also include bike-specific traffic signals? There’s currently no signal at that intersection and painted zebra crossings isn’t adequate enough to protect people riding and walking from motor traffic.

Mark s
Guest
Mark s

This is excellent news. I hope they put a stop sign on the west end for cars

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

Two awesome guys talked at length about this project on the Ned Flanders Pedalpalooza Ride this summer, but I can’t remember their names.

Mark Dawson
Guest
Mark Dawson

A new bike bridge built from the front steps of ODOT’s Portland headquarters. Isn’t that convenient!?!

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

As one of the 8-80 interested but concerned set who would get good use out of this crossing, I agree with everyone who hopes that there will be signals at both ends. That 16th Avenue crossing will be untenable without.

lop
Guest
lop

People like to walk next to each other. If you split the pedestrian space in half like this people will walk in the bike road. Better to have a wider sidewalk on only one side of the bike road.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Great news, I hope ODOT ponies up and this bridge actuallky gets built in 2019.

It was a real bummer when this plan fell apart in 2008.

All these prices are just rounding error on the overall budgets. Send your letters of support to Novick and ODOT, and if they like what they hear additional funding will come in for similar projects elsewhere in the city.

Ted Buehler

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

I would like to see these same groups go on record in favor of bring the current greenway system up to modern safety standards. Johnson, Marshal and Overton need diversion every few blocks. That would bumb up the bike commuting counts a lot for much less investment.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Wider…

Passing on the Hawthorne really only works when there are no pedestrians, so so someone can move a bit more to the right. The raised sidewalk prevents that.

Yes, it short, but people will want to pass.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Design the bridge deck a bit wider. Thirty-Two feet across would give eight feet each for all four lanes. That’s almost enough for people riding in the same direction, to pass each other safely and comfortably. Ten foot wide bike lanes would be better.

Except for the fact that currently, the view to the north and south down along the I-405, isn’t much more than that, some push outs for benches would be a thought. Eventually though, if the city did proceed with covering the highway with a park and other things, the view would be much improved.

mark
Guest
mark

Why do they need sidewalks at all? Sidewalks are a literal pain for everyone. While they are useful when something deadly is adjacent such as horses and cars, neither of those are present. So, is this a nod to the concrete lobby? Put the bridge down, asphalt the whole thing, put in some stripping and go to town.
Why? What is someone to do with a jogging stroller? Use the middle? Then the bikers bitch about that. What about a jogger? They don’t want to dodge walkers…

Why in the world do we need to setup segregation on the outset? Put some lanes/bollards in if it’s a big issue and move on. The Sidewalks make it heavier and thus thus the design needs to compensate for that.

Let’s keep it simple.

kittens
Guest
kittens

Sorry. Not a fan. We have much more pressing needs than this. Everyone knows that.

rick
Guest
rick

All of I-405 needs a cap.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

The price tag is steep, but the best things about this project aren’t quantifiable:

*Connecting communities

*Eliminate thousands of potential right- and left-hooks

*Inspire new cyclists and reduce car trips

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

This is a great opportunity for ODOT to up their Active Transpo credibility without constructing anything…just by supporting and promoting this project to the fullest.

mark
Guest
mark

I would be cheaper to shut down 405 and convert it to ped/biking/bus use.

Hey, one can dream.