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County’s Burnside Bridge project plans put bicycle riders on sidewalk for two years

Posted by on March 21st, 2017 at 2:33 pm

(Graphics: HDR/Multnomah County)

Next month Multnomah County and private contractor will kick off a major rehabilitation project for the Burnside Bridge. The project will nip and tuck the historic span in hopes of getting another 15-20 years of service out of it.

According to construction plans released by HDR (the contractor hired to perform the work), there will be significant changes to bridge operations for two years while the project is completed. From November of this year through November 2019, the plan is to have bicycle users share a sidewalk/sidepath with people walking. The plan will also reduce the number of standard vehicle lanes from five the three.

Here’s a close-up of the cross-section that was distributed by HDR last week:

Notice in the graphic above that during the project one of the bridge’s sidewalks will remain open while the other is worked on. Bicycle users and walkers will share the existing, six-foot wide sidewalks on one side — and on the other side the County will construct a new shared and separated space in the roadway. We haven’t yet heard how wide this temporary sidewalk will be and we don’t know exactly what will be used for the separation from motor vehicle traffic.

The County will spend around $20 million on this project to upgrade and repair the bridge surface, railings, sidewalks, electrical system, steel frame, and so on.

This bridge is in dire need of a bike access upgrade; but County spokesman Mike Pullen says this repair project will only work on “basic fixes,” and, “does not materially change the facilities.” It’s unclear whether this project will include re-striping the lanes; but with a $20 million that seems likely. If new striping happens, this could be an opportunity to reconfigure them in a way that better reflects current needs and adopted city goals. The existing bike lanes on the bridge were installed in 1995. Since then there has been tremendous residential and office development on both sides of the river. According to PBOT bicycle counts, the number of bicycle users on the Burnside Bridge has also grown seven-fold in that timeframe (from 620 to 2,345 trips per day).

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In an interview today Pullen said the County will likely embark on a planning project in the “next couple of years” that will look specifically at bicycling and walking upgrades. When asked about the shared sidewalk plans during the upcoming construction project, Pullen said the decision was made by the project manager in coordination with the consultant.

This two-year construction project and temporary lane configuration will have a major impact on bridge users. Cargo trike operators from B-Line Urban Delivery rely on the Burnside to go from destinations in Old Town/Chinatown to their new hub in the Central Eastside. Their trikes do not fit on the sidewalk so they’ll have share the lane with auto users.

We’re still awaiting further comment from the County and HDR about the traffic plan.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the project on the official website and at an open house this Thursday night (3/23) from 5:00 to 7:00 pm in the Multnomah Building (1st Floor Boardroom, 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd).

UPDATE, 3/22 at 1:30 pm: We are still working to get more details and updates on this story. For now, we’ve heard a few new things about the bicycle traffic plan from Multnomah County. They say the temporary sidepath they’ll build to handle biking and walking traffic during the project will be eight feet wide (the existing sidewalk is seven feet wide). The barrier between the temporary path will be made out of concrete.

County spokesman Mike Pullen also added that, “We will look to see what more we can do to improve the experience for bicyclists and pedestrians during construction.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Champs
Guest
Champs

Anyone else having flashbacks to the Broadway Bridge painting project? There have always been salmon, but two-way bike traffic has been much heavier ever since.

Alex
Guest
Alex

So if someone is riding Easbound on the North sidewalk, how will they be able to merge towards the right (South) onto the existing E Burnside bike lane?

What about vice-versa?

Often these things are not considered or explained, yet this will likely be one of the biggest pain points experienced by users.

Lahar
Guest
Lahar

This is a horrible, terrible, rotten plan. Oh well, a longer bike ride is not the end of the world.

Keviniano
Subscriber
Keviniano

I understand the need to work with limited resources during the construction, but it’s a bitter pill to have effort put into re-striping that brings us back to the current awful lane configuration.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This construction is going to be ugly for everyone: drivers, riders, walkers, and bus riders. The backups are going to be epic during commuting hours. There are decent parallel options for cyclists, and it seems that avoiding the bridge would be the best bet.

rick
Guest
rick

Status quo. Lame.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Didn’t they just resurface this bridge a few years ago? What does HDR know about cycling infrastructure and detours?

This is lead, not platinum.

dave
Guest
dave

Whatever happened to plans to replace this bridge?

Cruising in Clackamas
Guest
Cruising in Clackamas

Feedback from the County regarding closing an additional traffic lane to provide separate space for people walking and biking:

“During the project, there will be one 7-foot shared sidewalk open and one 8-foot wide temporary shared path separated from the traffic lane by a concrete barrier.

The traffic plan during construction takes space from all modes of traffic (motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians) so the contractor has space in the work zone to repair the sidewalks, bike lane and traffic lanes).

So the 40,000+ motor vehicles will be squeezed into 3 lanes from 5 lanes, similar to what is happening to bicyclists and pedestrians. Having just one eastbound traffic lane available in the afternoon would add a lot to traffic congestion for two years and would not be supported by the City.

We will be looking at bicycle and pedestrian improvements on the bridge in a planning project that we are seeking funding for currently.”

Based on this response, is PBOT requiring the prioritization of people driving over people walking and biking during the project?

If you’re interested in telling the County they need to provide better options for people walking and biking during the project and moving forward, e-mail burnside-bridge-projects@multco.us

maccoinnich
Guest

When the bridge fully reopens I hope it’s with transit only lanes.

cabbol
Guest
cabbol

2 years. Chinese company would have it done in 2 months. We suck at infrastructure.

buildwithjoe
Guest

The sidewalk is very deadly on the bridge. A pedestrian was killed. Ben Carlson. And his friend Bridget Larabee was severely injured. No ticket was ever given to the driver Doug Douglas James Walker.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1br_9fmxJpQ4z9tDEB4cdAYJTe-hIzE7R8qBLRizCTJI/edit?usp=sharing

The current design is deadly. It would be nice to lower the speed limit but our city puts trip times before safety. Call Dan Saltzman (503) 823-4151

q
Guest
q

Article states, “According to PBOT bicycle counts, the number of bicycle users on the Burnside Bridge has also grown seven-fold in that timeframe (from 620 to 2,345 trips per day).”

I think that’s 3.7-fold.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Seems to me they could run one lane each direction and put in a larger access for people on foot and on bikes.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

buildwithjoe
The sidewalk is very deadly on the bridge. A pedestrian was killed. Ben Carlson. And his friend Bridget Larabee was severely injured. No ticket was ever given to the driver Doug Douglas James Walker.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1br_9fmxJpQ4z9tDEB4cdAYJTe-hIzE7R8qBLRizCTJI/edit?usp=sharing
The current design is deadly. It would be nice to lower the speed limit but our city puts trip times before safety. Call Dan Saltzman (503) 823-4151
Recommended 1

I think about that situation often. Seems to me one should travel with a pop in their cupholder. In the event of a a crash. Simply claim you choked on it.

Get out of jail free.

Full Size map
Guest

PDF of the main graphic:
https://multco.us/file/60531/download

q
Guest
q

“When asked about the shared sidewalk plans during the upcoming construction project, Pullen said the decision was made by the project manager in coordination with the consultant.”

I’m curious, was there any opportunity for public input on the decision, even by any sort of small user group? This is a long-term detour, and I’m getting flashbacks to the detour the County set up along Macadam for the Sellwood Bridge project, which had to have been one of the worst-designed detours of all time.

During that project, my neighbors and I questioned at least a dozen “decisions made by the project manager in coordination with the consultant” (and/or contractor) and we got all or almost all of them overturned–not because the project was accommodating, but because the original decisions were so bad, expensive, impractical or illegal.

tabitat
Guest
tabitat

The site is indeed a bit funky, but I found the images on the Construction Impacts page https://multco.us/burnside-bridge-projects/construction-impacts (or here to go direct to the construction plan graphic: https://multco.us/file/60531/download).

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Anyone know the proposed widths of the vehicle lanes? If more than 10′, they need to be further cut down to provide more space for bikes and pedestrians. Expecting that many people to share such a narrow sidewalk is insanity.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

It seems like Vision Zero would dictate fewer/narrower lanes to slow traffic and wider/buffered bike lanes. During construction, VZ should prioritize safety when deciding how to allocate lanes. A shred 6′ raised sidewalk seems pretty sketchy. Does Vision Zero not come under consideration for this project for some reason?

soren
Guest
soren

This is completely unacceptable. Some concrete alternatives:

*Creating additional room for a temporary protected bike facility by closing one general lane.
*Calming traffic with rubber speed tables, temporarily lowering speed limits, installing signs, and sharrowing the roadway.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

So, the Burnside will go back to being to the highway it is with barely a real bike lane? Wow. Could have been two protected lanes (with Jersey barriers) and two lanes each direction. Sad….Loss for the future.

Lance P
Guest
Lance P

I just sent this to both burnside-bridge-projects@multco.us and to
MayorWheeler@portlandoregon.gov

——

Hello,
I ride my son to school every day in our bakfiets. This is our minivan. Our bike is 4 feet wide. I’m one of many parents that make the same trek across the burnside bridge every single day. The sidewalks on the burnside bridge are only 6′ wide and should never be ridden on with a bike.

I’m very alarmed by the plan to have both people walking and cycling sharing a sidewalk on the burnside bridge during construction. Over the past 2 years both people biking and walking over the bridge has exploded. I have mentioned this to other coworkers and neighbors that during evening rush hour you can often see someone walking every 10 feet all the way across the bridge. I haven’t crossed the bridge without having someone bike both directly behind and in front of me during in months. There needs to be a safe place to ride between Downtown and the newly ‘hip’ east burnside. With all of the new construction and proximity to downtown, the current plan to force all non motorized traffic on to one sidewalk is completely unexceptable. There needs to be a safe dedicated place for people to cross throughout this project.

Regards,
Lance X, Ignored citizen

Bike Portland: https://bikeportland.org/2017/03/21/countys-burnside-bridge-project-plans-put-bicycle-riders-on-sidewalk-for-two-years-222218

Project link: https://multco.us/burnside-bridge-projects/burnside-bridge-maintenance-project

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Did the County BPAC / ADA advocates have a chance to review this and comment? Did they review and comment on the work zone plan?

[Better protected ped and bike facilities should also be seen by HDR/ County as a safety enhancement (buffer space from motorized traffic) for their construction workers in the work zone.]

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

I’d add that as of 2015, the bridge also carries about 7,000 people on bus trips every weekday, who currently get zero dedicated space. Some of the possibilities for the long-term lane redesign are here:
https://bikeportland.org/2015/06/15/better-burnside-bridge-look-like-three-possibilities-144426

chris
Guest
chris

I fully expect to see a cyclist shoved over the side of the bridge for the hell of it by a mentally ill person during those two years. Or into a lane of traffic.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Most reasonable people can look at Burnside from the north end split to MLK and see pretty easily a dedicated bike lane would be an easy add. Instead, it’s a meat grinder through town.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Woops, not north, west end split.

rick
Guest
rick

Attaboy !

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

So..how wide is the existing sidewalk….to get an idea of usage today. Imagine fitting everyone on the walk.
comment image?itok=-a_3CLTX

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

I was just thinking that this project would have been sooo much less intrusive on bicycling (and walking) BEFORE the intensity of the bike friendly development on the east bridgehead/ east burn/eastside industrial that has made this bike link so critical.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

That was only on the lift span portion of the bridge deck. It was part of a project to fix damage caused in the 1996 flood that caused water intrusion/rust in the lift mechanism on one side. Before they fixed it, it barely opened. Presumably this will take care of the rest of the bridge surface.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Just got a reply to the comment I submitted to the project yesterday:

“This is a friendly reminder to visit us tomorrow night at a project open house for upcoming downtown bridge work, including maintenance repairs on the Burnside Bridge – Thursday, March 23 from 5 – 7 p.m. (Multnomah Building, 1st Floor Boardroom, 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd).”

I’ll be at work until 7pm, so I’m hoping others of you can attend and express our concerns about the shared bike/ped space during construction.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

It seems like they JUST rehabbed the bridge. Maybe in 2005 or 2007? Eliminating the steel grid deck.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

The county is working on three bridges in 2017: Morrison, Burnside, Broadway.

It looks like some lanes will be closed on the Morrison and Broadway bridges from spring 2017 through fall 2017. During that period, traffic on the Burnside, Hawthorne, and Steel bridges will probably be heavy, especially during commute hours.

Then the Burnside lane closures will start. I agree with most here: the current plans for shared bike/ped lanes are not good. Perhaps one sidewalk could be exclusively for pedestrians and the other side exclusively for bikes. This means bi-directional bike traffic, but during commute hours the bike traffic is mostly going the same way.

I certainly hope that, should work on the other bridges be delayed into winter 2017/18, the county will delay the Burnside lane closures. Having closures on all three bridges at the same time would be a real problem.

Why couldn’t the Broadway bridge work have been done when the bridge was being painted? Wish someone would have asked the county about that apparent oversight.

http://katu.com/news/local/upcoming-repair-on-three-portland-bridges-expected-to-impact-traffic-cyclists

Andy K
Guest

Look on the bright side, the delays on the Burnside bridge may actually create and inspire a new wave of cyclists!

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger
Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

By the by, that Burnside sidewalk width number is a bit of a lie- there are lightposts and signposts taking up at least two of those 7 feet at several spots on the sidewalk. Much like the waterfront and the moorings.

Loran
Guest
Loran

Hi Jonathan, Any updates from county on sidewalk plan? Fall approaches! Thanks!

Lars
Guest
Lars

Rode westbound over the bridge today and was redirected onto the sidewalk. Two other cyclists were in front of me. There was an elderly man walking on opposition to us and he seemed quite surprised and scared to find cyclist on the sidewalk. He shirked up against the railing as we passed; afraid of a collision. Not a great set-up.

alex
Guest
alex

Westbound I recommend taking the lane. The combined elevated sidewalk issue is really bad. Monday I saw cyclists backed up behind a B-Line bike doing 5mph. There was no way a pedestrian could get by in that situation.

Eastbound is much better (just got to watch for right hooks).