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Further ‘clean up work’ will delay west-side Willamette River path opening

Posted by on June 14th, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Patch connection (white) just north of the bridge.(Graphics: Multnomah County)

Patch connection (white) just north of the bridge.
(Graphics: Multnomah County)

The new path north of the west landing of the Sellwood Bridge opened briefly Tuesday morning, but then was re-closed and will remain closed for a matter of weeks.

Multnomah County spokesman Mike Pullen said in an email to BikePortland Tuesday afternoon that “some clean up work” is still needed after all, forcing the path to close:

I have some bad news. The westside regional trail between the Sellwood Bridge and SW Miles Place will not be opening for two to four weeks. … The trail did open this morning as scheduled. County staff found there is still some clean up work to be done on and near the trail that would not be safe to do with the public using the trail. Unfortunately, there are a number of subcontractors that need to be scheduled to do the work. So the public will be using the old detour route on the east side of Highway 43/Macadam for a few more weeks.

That’s all we know for now, except that the county’s new path still looks beautiful from a distance … and that ending Portland’s worst detour onto Macadam’s sidewalk can’t happen too soon.

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28 Comments
  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson June 14, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    “The only car road connecting two parts of the city will be closed for 2-4 weeks for clean-up work” said no DOT ever

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    Eric Leifsdad June 14, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    If we made one or two of the 25mph lanes as relatively narrow to a car as the sidewalk is to a bike, there would be room for about 6ft of bike lane on Macadam. We can’t do that because ______ (insert weak excuse why potentially slowing down our lowest priority mode of transportation to near or below the speed limit even during construction is an unacceptable engineering solution.)

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    peejay June 15, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Has anyone compared the safety risk of bikes using the detour vs the safety risk of them using the pathbduring “cleanup work”?

    I didn’t think so.

    Because they NEVER do.

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      Dick Pilz June 15, 2016 at 7:20 am

      The phrasing of the notice could also mean it is for the safety of the workers doing the cleanup.

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        Chris I June 15, 2016 at 7:53 am

        Safety from bikes? What?

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. June 15, 2016 at 9:01 am

          Flying bikes, obviously.

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            Dick Pilz June 15, 2016 at 3:10 pm

            Tell you what. Are you willing to ride slowly through a work zone? Or walk your bike? Or deal with water and air hoses running at awkward angles? Just because a clean-up worker is on foot and not on a bike doesn’t mean they are not worthy of consideration.

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              q June 15, 2016 at 3:26 pm

              I don’t think anyone is thinking the workers’ safety isn’t important. Speaking for myself, the questions are why did the project not even notice until they actually opened the path that suddenly they need up to a month to do “cleanup”? Why wasn’t the cleanup done long ago? Or, if it couldn’t have been, why did the project announce the trail opening, and in fact actually open it, only to suddenly close it again? Was the cleanup some sort of unpredictable surprise?

              And, what about riding slowly? Maybe the cleanup could happen safely for bikers and workers if bikes rode slowly. If so, then put up some cones and signs, or even a flagger, the same as is done for cars. That could be preferable to closing the trail entirely, especially given how dangerous the detour is.

              In any case, something went really wrong with the project’s management, otherwise we wouldn’t have a trail opening only to close hours later for up to a month.

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              Chris I June 16, 2016 at 8:22 am

              This is why they have signs that say things like “caution” or “lane narrows” or “Construction: slow”.

              Those seem to work just fine for roads that have cars on them. But I guess it is easier to just shutdown bike and pedestrian facilities, even if there is no parallel facility, and construction is only happening for a few hours each day during the week…

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      Ted G June 15, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      Do you have a suggestion for how the “safety risk” would/could be evaluated?

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    Jamie June 15, 2016 at 7:33 am

    I wonder if anyone earned a bonus for opening the path “on time”, with no clause in the contract about closing it again immediately.

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      Chris I June 15, 2016 at 10:04 am

      Bingo.

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    Skip June 15, 2016 at 9:44 am

    OK kids, you can open ONE present tonight, but the rest will remain under the tree until President’s Day. Sorry, not sorry.

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      peejay June 15, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Oh, and give me that one present back!

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    mw June 15, 2016 at 10:09 am

    I rode it Tuesday morning. I went slowly to take it all in. It was glorious. I have no idea what could possibly take four weeks to clean up. I ride the detour route almost every day and, and I could see that the new trail has basically been done since about April. It’s just been sitting idle since then.

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      rick June 15, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Are there benches along the way?

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        mw June 15, 2016 at 3:24 pm

        I do not recall seeing any.

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    axoplasm June 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Well this is a kick in the gut innit? I’ve been waiting literal years for that path to reopen.

    My guess is they’re still moving equipment across the path and they don’t want people outside cars anywhere near it, not because the car physically protects you but because your car INSURANCE financially protects everyone.

    I Am Not a Lawyer™ and I have no special insight here but [cue rampant speculation]… if you’re involved in a crash on the Macadam sidewalk, chances are good it involves a private car somehow and that car’s driver will hopefully have auto insurance, or perhaps you do. (Your car insurance will cover you in a car accident even if you’re not in a car, as I found out when I was doored a few years ago.) But if you’re involved in a crash on the path, that’s probably inside an active construction site and the liability might fall to ODOT, Multnomah County, Sundt, or another contractor.

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    peejay June 15, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Also, since County officials are reading this post and comments,

    GET YOUR BRIDGE EMPLOYEES TO STOP PARKING ON THE MORRISON BRIDGE MUP!!!!!!!! It’s dangerous, inconsiderate, and lazy.

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    q June 15, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Earlier in the project, the project repeatedly stated that it was essential for safety reasons that the trail from the bridge through Miles Place to Willamette Park all be 100% completed prior to the bridge opening to bikes and pedestrians. And that made sense, given the horrible detour path.

    Now I guess all those safety reasons evaporated, and there are new safety reasons why the old safety reasons aren’t important anymore.

    This project often uses “safety” to justify delays and decisions, and stop criticism. I wonder what the “cleanup” is that would be causing safety issues along the trail, and also whether the “safety” issues associated with that cleanup couldn’t be solved with some cones, flagger or scheduling care, as would be done with a vehicle route.

    Someone mentioned that the trail has been sitting essentially complete since April, and they’re right. And of course everyone who says the detour is dangerous (and possibly more dangerous than opening the trail before the “cleanup” is done) is also right.

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      rick June 15, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      For safety, protected bike lanes are needed on the new Sellwood Bridge.

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        Dave Thomson June 15, 2016 at 11:17 pm

        Not.

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    q June 16, 2016 at 11:11 am

    In 2014, the project had a detour sign on the trail in Willamette Park, directing people to use the Macadam sidewalk instead of the park trail and Miles, because of work it was doing on Miles. After a long period of inactivity, and right before the Christmas holidays, I asked the project to take down the sign over the holidays, since there was no work happening to justify the detour, and no likelihood of work over the holidays, but quite a few people walking and biking then.

    The answer was NO, because they were going to start using the haul road in 2015, and didn’t want people using Miles then, and didn’t want to take the time to remove one sign and then put it up again.

    As it turned out, there was no use of Miles by the project for the next several months. But the project had kept directing people off the safe route (park trail and Miles) and onto the unsafe detour all that time, JUST IN CASE they might sometime want to send a truck down Miles.

    To add irony, when I made my call, I knew the sign had already fallen down, and been dragged off the path into the bushes, so it never was really an issue. But the project didn’t even know it was down, and never did find out, because it never checked on the sign, and the sign remained lying in the bushes for about a year, until the pump station removed it during one of their cleanups.

    So the bridge project doesn’t really care about trail users, despite whatever it claims. Don’t be surprised if the trail is closed for a month because a few trucks may need to use it for a few hours.

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    q July 1, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Just noticing it’s been 2+ weeks since the trail opened and then instantly re-closed, and now we’re heading into the long, major holiday weekend of the summer, meaning lots of people will be walking and biking over the bridge, only to be forced to use the horrible, unsafe Macadam detour instead of the trail. Meanwhile, will there be any work being done along the trail during the weekend? Possibly, but I doubt it.

    Are conditions along the trail so unsafe that it couldn’t have been opened for the long weekend, then closed if necessary next week so whatever work is requiring the closure to be completed?

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    q July 1, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Just saw trail is tentatively set to re-open by noon on July 5th.

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      q July 1, 2016 at 9:27 pm

      Also saw from the bridge update today that no work is scheduled for the holiday weekend on the west side. Combining that with the trail being proposed to open on July 5th at noon means that there is at most five hours of work left before the trail can open (working from 7AM to noon Tuesday). So the reason the trail is opening AFTER the holiday weekend instead of BEFORE looks like it’s because the project couldn’t manage to get done at most 5 hours of work before the holiday instead of after.

      Meanwhile, there will be at least several hundred people each day crossing the bridge by foot or bike Saturday, Sunday and Monday. And Monday night, both Sellwood Park and Willamette Park are huge destinations for people celebrating the Fourth. I’d guess the bridge itself will also be a popular viewpoint Monday evening.

      This all makes it look like all these hundreds or thousands of people’s enjoyment and safety wasn’t worth the project managing to get at most five hours of work done during the last two weeks.

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    q July 5, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Got a notification from the project that the trail re-opened today.

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