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Bike traffic advisory: Expect delays on bridges due to repairs and Fleet Week

Posted by on June 8th, 2016 at 8:27 am

Bike traffic, Steel Bridge, sunny Saturday-1

The lower deck of the Steel Bridge is always crowded during the warm and sunny summer season — but it’ll be even harder to bike through over the next week.

The Bureau of Transportation has put out a traffic advisory (below) warning of delays on all downtown lift-bridges due to the double-whammy of lifts (as ships depart from Fleet Week festivities) and for electrical repairs on the Steel Bridge. The delays are expected to happen on June 8th, 9th, and 13th.

Be advised and try taking the upper deck for the next few days. If you do ride the upper deck, please ride cautiously when other people are present — it’s narrow up there.

The arrival and departure of Fleet Week ships for the Portland Rose Festival will require the closure of the lower deck of the Steel Bridge on June 8, 9 and 13. Because the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Union Pacific Railroad are also making mechanical and electrical repairs to the structure, the lower deck will be held in the raised position, closed to bike and pedestrian access, for up to four to six hours each day.

Since the lower deck of the Steel Bridge was opened in 2001, it has become a popular route for people bike and walking. The deck will be closed from 2 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday June 8 and Thursday June 9. If ships are able to pass before 6 p.m., the deck will be lowered and access restored as soon as possible.

The lower deck will be raised again on Monday June 13, from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. If ships are able to pass before noon, the deck will be lowered and access restored as soon as possible.

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Public access to the upper deck will be maintained, but expect intermittent bridge closures from 2 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and on Monday morning as ships arrive and depart.

The Broadway, Burnside, and Steel drawbridges will need to open for ship arrivals and departures. Travelers can avoid delays by choosing a fixed span bridge or a bridge south of the Burnside Bridge.

This might be a good time to download Multnomah County’s new smartphone app that will send alerts to your phone when the lifts are up.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

  • ME 2 June 8, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been caught by the ships coming in the last two years, but for the next few days I’ll cross on the Morrison instead of the Steel Bridge.

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  • Buzz June 8, 2016 at 10:24 am

    If you use the upper deck of the Steel Bridge, it’s probably better to ride in the roadway than on the sidewalk.

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    • John Lascurettes June 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

      And if you do, TAKE THE LANE not the right edge. it’s not wide enough to share safely.

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  • John Lascurettes June 8, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Remember that the whole area of waterfront park becomes fairly unusable to bike commuting these weeks too, especially during fleet week. I’m glad it’s no longer part of my regular commute for several years now.

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  • Kyle Banerjee June 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Upper deck works on Steel Bridge only when no one is there as it is narrow. The road works only when traffic is moving — and it often isn’t.

    Despite the additional distance, most people might be better served by other bridges.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 8, 2016 at 11:41 am

      I disagree. I’ve been riding the upper deck sidewalk almost exclusively everyday for months now. There’s room to pass but you can’t be an ass. In other words, it’s only too narrow if you’re going too fast. I slow down, ring my bell and make 100% sure the person knows i am there, then I pedal by and smile and all is well in the world and everyone is happy.

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      • Kyle Banerjee June 8, 2016 at 1:44 pm

        I also ride it every day and have practically no problems. But there are very few peds or cyclists — I typically encounter zero or one — and they tend to be the sort who are more comfortable in tight spaces.

        I expect that putting a number of people on the upper deck that don’t normally go there will change the dynamic. It only takes one person to clog things up and if people who expect/need more space suddenly start using that space, the likely outcome is significantly longer crossing times — particularly since people climb at very different rates.

        A number of cyclists appear uncomfortable being passed in the same direction no matter how much warning there is, how slow you go, even if you’re brushing the rail to give them maximum room. I’ll check it out just in case I’m wrong, but my guess is that I’ll be crossing on the road or at Broadway.

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  • Tom June 8, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    What good is an advisory if they don’t say what times the bridge will be up? They don’t schedule moving large ships ahead of time?, or is it decided at the last minute? I would think they would need to coordinate and plan so as to avoid all the ships trying to leave at the same time.

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  • Mike Sanders June 8, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Don’t forget that the Tillicum Crossng is far enough upriver that it’s not affected by the bridge lifts downtown. Also remember that streets Downtown will be closed for the Rose Festival Parade on Saturday (11 June) as well. Expect lots of foot traffic in Riverplace for the Dragonboat races on Saturday and Sunday.

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    • Buzz June 8, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Hawthorne Bridge, as well.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. June 8, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      Tilikum is a fixed-span bridge, so it will never be lifted.

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  • Todd Boulanger June 8, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    The prime questions:
    – as Fleet Week is a Known reoccurring event…then why was the Steel Bridge electrical work bike ped closures planned for this week? OR
    – if the Steel Bridge repair work was unavoidable for Fleet Week then did their TCP and work zone planning plan for Fleet Week with a set of separate TCP motivations to accommodate this larger impact?

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    • Todd Boulanger June 8, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      PS. Has ODoT presented these TCPs for these work zones to the Portland PBAC for review and comment? Or has anyone at PBoT seen them?

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  • Doug June 9, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    I arrived at the Rose Festival aboard the USS Shasta in 1982, women were exposing their breasts to us from boats as we arrived. I got my ass pinched several times while walking across the park. I was applaud. I had just married and I took a bus back to Longview to see my wife. Thanks but no thanks Portland harlots. I don’t think there are enough antibiotics, talk about foreign ports.

    I just wanted to get off my ship, the USS Sacramento which was ported in Bremerton which took 2 days longer at sea, and I’m from Longview and I wanted to sail past my hometown. I’ve never been to Rose Festival and I guess I never will. I didn’t like crowds then and I like them a whole lot less now.

    I’d only ride a bicycle there at gun point, but I wouldn’t drive there either.

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    • peejay June 9, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      You seem like a lot of fun!

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