Harvest Century September 22nd

County closes carfree path onto the Hawthorne Bridge

Posted by on October 25th, 2016 at 5:22 pm

It was nice while it lasted. This carfree onramp to the Hawthorne has been closed.

I cherish every inch of carfree infrastructure downtown. It’s such a rarity when biking around the central city to be able to take a deep breath and not worry about any other vehicles — even if only for a few seconds.

That’s why I’m a bit sad that we can no longer bike on the ramp that goes from southbound Naito Parkway up to the Hawthorne Bridge eastbound.

Multnomah County closed that ramp today as construction on the new Central Courthouse gets underway.

The ramp wasn’t a major popular or particularly smooth connection up to the bridge; but I loved it. Because driving wasn’t allowed on it, I always felt like I was getting some sort of special access.

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Goodbye old friend.
(View looking southwest from the Hawthorne Bridge.)

According to Mike Pullen at the County, the on-ramp was closed to auto use in 1998 after a major Hawthorne Bridge renovation project. That project widened the bridge’s walking and rolling path from six to ten feet and improved the sidewalk that’s now adjacent to the bike lane (and built the curb extension that the late Kirk Reeves used to entertain us on).

You can still access the south sidewalk of the bridge via SW Madison Street or via the path that leads up from Waterfront Park.

But it just won’t be the same.

Will you miss this ramp? Share your memories in the comments.

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

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53 Comments
  • Avatar
    Tad October 25, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    I took that ramp as part of my daily commute home every day this past spring & summer. Pity, seeing as the alternatives coming from my area (SW 3rd & Oak) and the bridge are longer, as well as being frequently impeded by events on the Waterfront Park trail.

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    rick October 25, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Bulldoze small business to make a new courthouse. What will become of the old one? Housing is needed there.

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      Tim October 26, 2016 at 8:09 am

      There is an unused jail and plenty of criminals (bike thieves), but instead of using the jail (or providing any number of needed services), they build some of the most expensive office space on the waterfront for lawyers to hang out. Why do we need very expensive offices for lawyers if there is no place to put criminals (or homeless or working people).

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        Gary B October 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

        This may surprise you, but courthouses are also for things other than sending criminals to jail.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. October 26, 2016 at 9:31 am

        Sure, then let’s free all the people in jail for minor drug offences. Then we’ll have plenty of room for real criminals.

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        Jason Skelton October 26, 2016 at 11:53 am

        When we are a nation of laws, having a building to enforce laws is critically important. It is something we in America do exceptionally well. There is a good reason why foreign countries and companies choose to have their cases litigated in the US.

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          resopmok October 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm

          Is having the world’s largest prison population a sign that we’re doing something right, or perhaps, terribly wrong?

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          Tim October 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm

          And american small business does very well without riverfront offices. It is not the need for laws and courts that I question, but why do public lawyers and courts need the most expensive office space in town.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. October 25, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Good riddance.

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      Chris October 25, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      care to explain?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. October 25, 2016 at 8:29 pm

        It’s an abandoned highway on ramp that’s taking up valuable downtown space. I suppose you can technically cycle on it, but there are no curb ramps to access it and one must squeeze into a tiny bike lane through a dark underpass to even access it. It’s likely the courthouse will be building a cycle track to access the bridge anyway.

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          Middle of the Road Guy October 26, 2016 at 11:40 am

          Sounds like a great place for a new parking structure, actually.

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        Buzz October 25, 2016 at 10:11 pm

        he can’t, so I’ll try – hates motor vehicle hardscape, loves bike-ped hardscape; IMO, neither are that good.

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          q`Tzal October 26, 2016 at 1:04 am

          We need affordable housing not rhetoric.

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            Lester Burnham October 26, 2016 at 8:36 am

            There is plenty of affordable housing in Portland if you don’t insist on living on trendy parts of the inner city.

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              Terry D-M October 27, 2016 at 9:05 am

              As someone embedded inside the housing crises, zoning and rent inflation……I can say your data is a decade out of date. Portland, citywide, has a critical shortage of affordible housing. When you combine housing and transportation costs, which from a planning perspective —and reality states– are a single variable, taken proportional to income Portland is now one of the most unaffordable mid-sized cities around.

              In simpler terms, the further out you go the rents might be marginally cheaper, but the transportation costs in time and money make up for the difference.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty October 26, 2016 at 4:53 pm

            I want more affordable rhetoric!

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        Spiffy October 26, 2016 at 8:16 am

        you had to do a u-turn to access it from the bike lane… then you are put onto the ped area of the bridge instead of into the bike lane…

        it wasn’t great, but I think if they had actually rebuilt it with cycling in mind then it could have been great…

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. October 26, 2016 at 9:28 am

          Sure, but the cycle track the county is going to build will be far more space efficient than a bike on-ramp that is built at car scale. This is prime downtown waterfront land, why waste it with more asphalt?

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    Teri October 25, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Dang, I didn’t even know that path was there. I would have been using it, instead of avoiding southbound Naito all the time.

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      shirtsoff October 26, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Me too.. In the past 15+ years that I’ve been using the bridge, I never fully observed that this path was even there.

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    Will October 25, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Used this ramp every day. Super bummed about loosing it. Instead of using the Naito bike lane I’m going to have to go down 3nd or get on the busy esplanade. Neither are as convenient or safe.

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      Eric Leifsdad October 25, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      You could go around the blocks via Jefferson and 2nd?

      Or, use the prominently marked crosswalk at the north end and through the parking lot under the bridge / across the grass (what pressure you running?) to circle back up the ramp. Or, ride across the bridge on the north side and be going the wrong way. Is the county going to study the number of salmon before and after this change?

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        Will October 26, 2016 at 10:27 am

        Certainly there are alternatives, none of which are direct or as fast as just jumping on this. I hope Adam is right and they build a proper bicycle on ramp here.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. October 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

          Madison will get a protected cycleway adjacent to the courthouse building as part of construction, but that’s it. You’ll have to ride around the block. Still a welcome improvement to a congested area!

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 26, 2016 at 4:55 pm

        Please don’t ride the wrong way on the N side of the bridge!

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    Adam October 25, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    I didn’t even know that path was there!

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    maccoinnich October 25, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I’ve used the ramp many times, and it is quite convenient for getting onto the Hawthorne Bridge. It’s also a vestige of the mid-century traffic engineering that destroyed large parts of our downtown, and so from that perspective I’m glad to see it go.

    Hopefully PBOT will implement some of the Central City 2035 bikeway improvements around the Hawthorne Bridge sooner rather than later.

    https://www.portlandmaps.com/bps/mapapp/maps.html#mapTheme=cc2035TSP

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    Chris October 25, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    I used this daily for years. Was easy to head south down Naito and get over the Hawthorne. The crosswalk at Naito was commonly blocked by drivers, but the ramp itself was an excellent connection. Now there’s an extra jog to get to Hawthorne from Naito. It was popular with skateboarders since it was wide and had curbs, so a loss for them as well. That was a perfect spot for them, little to no pedestrian traffic there, no concern about cars, and plenty of room to bike by them.

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    Buzz October 25, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    the skateboarders liked it. I can’t believe the county is going to shoe-horn a new courthouse in that space, I’m going to miss the VQ the most. Also, I’m not going to miss the year + long construction issues, glad I don’t work DT anymore…

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      wg October 25, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Duck confit spring rolls…mmm…

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    James October 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    That ramp was a part of my commute home for years. It was the most convenient way to get off of southbound Naito. I was going to start taking it again in a few weeks.

    it was a stress-free way up the short climb to the bridge, and I’m sad to see it go.

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    dan October 25, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    Yes, used that ramp on my commute home for years. More recently, it was poignant to get a look inside VQ and see the progress as the fittings and furniture emptied out.

    Serious question: why does the new courthouse need to be there? Why not elsewhere, say Gateway, where there’s good transit and much cheaper real estate?

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      BikeSlobPDX October 26, 2016 at 6:26 am

      I thought the block at the other end of the bridge where the Burger King is closing would be a better spot — connect it to the existing garage and county building.

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        dan October 26, 2016 at 10:22 am

        That BK is closing? I had no idea, guess Burgerville wins?

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      Spiffy October 26, 2016 at 8:25 am

      they don’t want to make the lawyers travel that far from downtown…

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      Gary B October 26, 2016 at 8:37 am

      The legal community is centered around the courthouse. To move it out of downtown would be hugely disruptive. Yes yes, insert snark about pity the downtown lawyers, but the reason any downtown exists is because of the efficiency of clustering people/buildings.

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      Lester Burnham October 27, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Uhhh, shoving things out into east Portland again. No thanks.

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    stace October 26, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Wow- I never knew that was there!

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    Spiffy October 26, 2016 at 9:20 am

    OregonLive says that ramp was closed in 1997…

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    Dolan Halbrook October 26, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Ugh, this sucks. I ride that every day on the way home. It’s easy enough to ride the bike lane under the bridge and curb-hop onto it, then curb-drop off it at the top to avoid dealing with the driver who inevitably hangs out blocking the crosswalk. Always thought it would be so nice and simple for the city to just make it a dedicated bikeway and provide smooth on-ramps and off-ramps, but instead it just gets flattened. Oh well, guess i’m going to have to figure out something else or deal with the waterfront traffic.

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    Josh Chernoff October 26, 2016 at 9:53 am

    So when you take daily photos of cars abusing the right away of a cross walk the city thinks “hey lets just remove the crosswalk”. Good thing I have a good memory and a better thing that I can vote.

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    Barry October 26, 2016 at 9:57 am

    It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best way to get on the bridge traveling southbound Naito. I always wondered why it wasn’t ‘official’ with access from the bike lane, rather than requiring a tight u-turn or curb hop. What is the ‘right way’ now to get on the Hawethorne bridge traveling south on Naito?

    Exiting the bridge to is sketchy, too — dropping onto a sidewalk and making a series of tight turns to get onto northbound Naito. And then making a turn left to travel to downtown, is quite an adventure, either merging with heavy traffic to get into a car turning lane, or standing at a crosswalk to cross with pedestrians. With so much space on the waterfront, I’d hope that a plan for making easier connections for a bike path here is in the works.

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    Dirk October 26, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Does anyone know what the county actually has planned as part of the new courthouse? Maybe there will be a better connection here after construction…

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. October 26, 2016 at 10:29 am

      Specifically, take a look at this site plan. Note the protected bike lane on Madison approaching the bridge. It’s likely that you will have to ride around the block, but at least one block will have cycling infra. It would definitely be nice to have a protected cycleway along Jefferson and First as well, but I don’t think that’s in the plan, unfortunately.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 26, 2016 at 5:03 pm

        Better to not ride around the block, than do so with one (of the three) block faces in a protected lane. Not a win.

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    jaronheard October 26, 2016 at 10:05 am

    will miss this for skateboarding!

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    Bob K October 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Regularly commute over Hawthorne and I never once used it.

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    Alex October 26, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    That was a great skate spot. Not too many of those around these days.

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    Daniel F October 26, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I’ll miss Veritable Quandary’s chocolate souffle more than that ramp.

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    AEG October 26, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Funny, that’s exactly how I felt reading the post about the loss of a bike lane to “better” Naito.

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    Adron Hall @ Transit Sleuth November 1, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Umm.

    It never occurred to me to ride on that. I’d have never thought! 😮

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