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Cascade Locks unveils designs for new carfree bridge into Marine Park

Posted by on October 20th, 2016 at 1:17 pm

One of three options would include a ramp and an elevator.
(Drawings: Port of Cascade Locks)

For over a decade the city of Cascade Locks in the Columbia River Gorge has wanted to rebuild the entrance to their marquee destination: Marine Park. Now the project is moving forward and they want to hear what you think about the options.

Currently, the only entrance to Marine Park (a place that attracts 350,000 annual visitors) is down a narrow road at the far end of the main commercial area. The road makes a sharp right turn under a set of railroad tracks before emerging on the other side. Besides having height restrictions, the underpass is so narrow that there’s no accomodation for people on foot or on bikes. “The current undercrossing’s narrow width is dangerous to pedestrians, strollers, wheelchair users and cyclists trying to enter or exit the park at the same time as vehicles,” wrote the Port of Cascade Locks to the Oregon Department of Transportation in a project grant application. “It has a steep grade, blind 90-degree corner, and shared lanes. The new overcrossing would protect non-vehicle traffic from potential crashes.”

View of current entrance to Marine Park.

The Port has decided to build a new bridge that will connect Wa Na Pa Street (Highway 30, the town’s main street) at the busiest part of downtown directly to the park. The project will cost an estimated $3,000,000 and there was a town hall meeting in Cascade Locks last night to view and offer feedback on the proposed designs.

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There are three basic alternatives under consideration: a bridge with elevator and stairs (either steel or concrete); a bridge with elevator and a ramp; or a bridge with stairs and a ramp. At the meeting last night attendees were asked to choose their favorite based on the newly released drawings below:

This is an important project not just for Cascade Locks but for everyone who uses (or plans to use) the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Just 50 miles east of Portland (and 25 miles east of Troutdale), Cascade Locks has become a major destination for both casual and serious bicycle explorers. Just last weekend the city was invaded by thousands of bike lovers as it played host to a full weekend of Cross Crusade events. Back in 2014 we shared how the small town was coming together to support bicycle tourism as a way to stimulate their economy. It’s probably no accident that this new overpass will touch down just steps away from Thunder Island Brewing, an officially certified bike-friendly business whose owner told us a few years ago he thinks Cascade Locks is “a bicyclist heaven.”

And did I mention the burgeoning network off-road cycling trails they’ve recently built?

Map showing likely alignment of the new overpass.

This new overpass (completion scheduled for 2018) would vastly improve the cycling experience in Cascade Locks and would have a multiplier effect on the many great bicycle initiatives already happening. If you want to weigh in with your opinion about what it should look like, take this online survey.

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

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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

31 Comments
  • dan October 20, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    From a cyclist perspective, it’s B1 hands down. I would much rather ride a ramp than get into an elevator. B2 is OK for me personally, but I think it’s nice for anyone in a walker etc. to have the option of an elevator.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 20, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    With their bridge tolls up to $2, this project better be on the top of their list, and a ramp is always preferable…from the guy who got the Waud Bluff Trail built without one!

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    • Spiffy October 20, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      if they would open up the Dam Road to pedestrians and cyclists then we wouldn’t need the Bridge of the Gods and their high toll for those modes…

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  • Spiffy October 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    their conclusion that a road wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other is dangerous to other modes resonates with most of Portland…

    we shouldn’t be building or repairing any roads unless/until they’re brought up to safety standards…

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  • Maria October 20, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I’d rather see funds spent improving the Bridge of the Gods, which is terrifying to cross, even for seasoned cyclists.

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    • mran1984 October 20, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      This is ridiculous. Riding across this bridge is a treat. I have never ridden with anyone who is afraid of it. Check your seasoning at the Bonneville headwind before proceeding. The two dollar, one hundred percent increase, is a rip off. One hundred percent increase…like a prescription drug price hike.

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      • Ray Ogilvie October 20, 2016 at 6:49 pm

        I agree with Maria. I hate riding acrooss that bridge. It is terifying!

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      • Adam October 21, 2016 at 6:08 am

        If you have a fear of heights and have to look down through the see-through grating, it’s a little ridiculous.

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        • Pat Lowell October 21, 2016 at 9:19 am

          I am terrified of even minor heights, but somehow riding over the grate doesn’t bother me. I didn’t like the crosswind, but it wouldn’t stop me from riding over the bridge again. Love that view!

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    • Doug October 21, 2016 at 6:01 am

      Yah that cross wind is a bugger, not to mention the steel bridge grating.

      The last time I rode there it was over 100 degrees and we hung around in that Thunder Island Brewing in the direct sun. Got back to Gresham and my back tire melted and de laminated, I caught a cab home. We just had a terrible ride leader with zero common sense. Fun day; NOT!

      I’ve had it with the gorge. Too much traffic and crappy roads on both sides. I can think of about 100 better places to ride. But you people try to ride in Portland and that’s a fools errand, so your judgement is already in question.

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      • Chris I October 21, 2016 at 8:25 am

        You sound like a fun person.

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      • Pat Lowell October 21, 2016 at 9:18 am

        Was your ride leader a paid professional? If not, they owe you nothing and you got what you paid for. You are responsible for checking the weather and deciding whether you are willing/able to ride in it.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy October 21, 2016 at 9:31 am

      And they should paint it pink and serve French Toast on the other side.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    The other safety issue is the high volume of pedestrians taking this direct route across the rail tracks and over the security fencing…very risky* but so much more convenient.

    * the risk tradeoff is a complex one: walk the legal route (bridge under crossing) and risk getting hit by the higher frequency of car traffic or the illegal route (walk over the rail tracks) and risk getting killed by the less frequent trains…

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    • Chris I October 21, 2016 at 8:27 am

      I’ll cross the tracks. Trains move in two dimensions, so they are pretty easy to avoid; and they typically make their presence known. The underpass is extremely dangerous, due to the obstructed site lines.

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  • Adam October 20, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Glad to see any improvements for Cascade Locks!

    I agree with others, I can’t believe Bonneville Dam doesn’t allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross it. But that’s not exactly Cascade Locks’ fault.

    And at least Cascade Locks allows bikes and peds across Bridge of the Gods.

    The same exact looking bridge that Hood River has across the Columbia prohibits bicyclists. I’m not sure how this is even legal. Anybody know??

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    • Racer X October 20, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      …it could be a 9/11 thingy…you know how many bikes are really just pipe bombs in disguise.

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      • Spiffy October 21, 2016 at 8:23 am

        My Bike Is A Pipe Bomb

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        • Zimmerman October 21, 2016 at 11:33 am

          My pipe bomb is a bike.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. October 21, 2016 at 12:51 pm

            My bike bomb is a pipe.

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    • TJ October 20, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Bridge of the Gods and Hood River Bridge look nothing alike and have little alike. I don’t disagree that a solution is needed and several have been considered. But the lane width of HR is slight less than 9’5″ vs. BoG’s 12′. Too, HR is more than twice as long.

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      • Adam October 21, 2016 at 6:12 am

        They have everything in common. They are the only crossing points for 30 miles each direction.

        that’s the only commonality I care about as a cyclist. Why shluld I have to bike SIXTY MILES out of my way to cross a river?

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        • TJ October 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

          Right. Acknowledging the differences or assumed barriers is not something we should do. Again, I hear you.

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          • TJ October 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm

            I lived in Hood River and still spend a good deal of overnights there, White Salmon, Parkdale, and Trout Lake. Half of my friends in Oregon live in the area. Bike access would be huge for me. A lot of people feel the same. Eventually, it will happen via an extension deck.

            For consideration: Hood River bridge is at least twice as long as any bridge in Portland (I believe) and much narrower. At .82 miles and substandard less than 9.5 wide lane widths, a lot of vehicles are not allowed access (and the wind rips). My current understanding is bike/pedestrian extension wasn’t off the table in recent years, but at this point the goal is maintenance and targeting a new bridge.

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    • Chris I October 21, 2016 at 8:29 am

      I believe the state is looking at replacing the bridge in Hood River, FWIW.

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  • Mike Sanders October 20, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    They closed off the road over Boulder Dam (near Las Vegas) to auto traffic due to Nine/11 concerns, and they built the new bridge downriver. The only exit to the visitor center is on the Nevada side; no access from Arizona. They do allow ped / bike access, with users subject to inspection at any time under Homeland Security regulations. None allowed over the Colimbia river dams, sadly.

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    • Chris I October 21, 2016 at 8:30 am

      Bonneville should allow ped and cyclist crossings. I don’t believe there are any federal restrictions to this, just BPA’s choice.

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      • Gary B October 21, 2016 at 9:11 am

        It would be a USACE choice, they own and operate the dam.

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        • Mike Sanders October 22, 2016 at 11:49 am

          USACE = US Army Corps of Engineers.

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  • rf October 20, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    I would guess that bridge of the gods only permits cycling because they need it for the PCT crossing.

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  • Alphamonk October 21, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Maybe it’s just me but A1 and B2 look like sketches of a guard tower beside a POW camp.

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