For years people have dreamed of a low-stress and convenient bikeway between inner southeast Portland and the Lloyd District. Now it’s becoming a reality.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is moving forward with plans to build a new carfree bridge over Interstate 84 that would connect 7th Avenue between NE Lloyd Boulevard on the north end and NE Flanders on the south end.
But wait, there’s more. In addition to the new bridge, PBOT is considering a major road diet and “protected intersection” treatment at the Lloyd/7th intersection (see below). The project would also include an engineering and planning analysis for the westernmost portion of the long-awaited shared-use path project known as the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail.
The details of this project are in a request for proposals (PDF) that came out last month and in a report prepared for PBOT by a consulting firm back in April (PDF) that analyzed different bridge types and alignment options.
The new bridge and related improvements would unlock vast placemaking and cycling potential along the NE 7th Avenue corridor (designated as a “major city bikeway” in the recently adopted Central City 2035 Plan). As we reported last year, this new bridge is essential for the successful development of the Lloyd District. Former Bicycle Transportation Alliance staffer Carl Larson told us at the time that, “It’d be a game-changer” and said, “I describe it as MLK for people walking and biking.” (The project is one of 16 prioritized regionwide in the BTA’s “Blueprint”.)
Portland had a chance to create a high-quality, north-south bikeway in this area when streetcar came to MLK and Grand in 2012. Unfortunately the eastside streetcar was not only built without adjacent cycling facilities; but in many ways it made cycling worse by taking up the entire right-hand lane and by adding new crash hazards due to exposed rails. This project on 7th could be the north-south biking access people have clamored for for over a decade.
The new bridge and other improvements are also seen as key pieces of the city’s “Green Loop” — a six-mile park and path that will someday ring the central city.
Here are the two treatments — a protected intersection and a roundabout — PBOT is considering for the north landing of the new bridge at NE Lloyd and 7th:
While still early in the process, PBOT currently recommends a “deck-tied steel arch with drop-in span” bridge design that would be 24-foot wide and span 470-feet across Interstate 84. One of the proposed cross-sections shows the 24-feet split between two six-foot sidewalks and two six-foot bike lanes. The alignment of the bridge isn’t under debate for the north side; but there’s still some question what will happen on the south side. PBOT prefers a longer and more direct bridge that would connect 7th Avenue on both sides. Another option would be a slightly shorter bridge that would leave from NE 8th on the south side.
In an alternatives analysis report created for the city, engineering firm KPFF estimated the cost of this option to be between $9 and $13 million — almost all of which would be paid for by System Development Charges, which are fees paid by developers to offset increases in road usage. In April of this year, City Council enthusiastically approved an ordinance that made this project eligible for up to $11 million in SDCs. PBOT Communications Director John Brady told us today that PBOT already has about 85 percent of the funding and are in conversations for the remaining amount.
The company that will design, engineer, and manage the project will be selected in January 2017. A design and public outreach process will then begin and is expected about to last about two years with construction starting in 2019. Stay tuned for open houses and other opportunities to provide feedback.
Learn more at the official project website.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org