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Major Burnside Bridge construction for next two years: Here’s what to expect

Posted by on December 21st, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Final cross-section for work zone conditions on Burnside Bridge that begins January 5th and continues for the next two years.
(Graphics: Multnomah County)

We’ve got new details and graphics on Multnomah County’s Burnside Bridge Maintenance Project that will have a big impact on your use of this crucial central city connection.

As we shared last March, the County is spending $20 million to upgrade and repair the bridge surface, railings, sidewalks, steel frame, electrical system, and more. To make it work, they need to store large construction machines and vehicles on the bridge. The work zone takes up nearly half the width of the bridge. That means the seven-lane bridge (which includes two bike lanes) will be pared down to three lanes and two paths that will be shared by everyone who’s not inside an automobile.

Back in March we didn’t have all the details about lane widths and configurations. Now we do: The County put out an update yesterday.

Here’s what to expect:

The work begins Friday January 5th. There will be a full closure for that weekend through Monday January 8th at 5:00 am. This means you need to use a different bridge to cross the river. After that, the County will maintain the three-lane, two-path profile for the duration of the project through December 2019.

➤ The plan is to work on the south side for the first year (as shown in the graphic), then move the construction zone to the north side in year two.

➤ Biking and walking access will be maintained throughout construction.

➤ You should also expect work-zone conditions when you pass under the bridge through Waterfront Park and on NE/SE 3rd, Naito Parkway, and NE/SE 2nd. County says bike/walk access will be maintained except for some detours through Waterfront Park for the several months of 2018.

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➤ Instead of having a seven-foot wide sidewalk and a five-foot wide bike lane on the bridge, the County will require non-automobile users to share an eight-foot wide path. The path adjacent to the work zone will be separated from drivers via a concrete “crash railing” and the path opposite the work zone will be the existing sidewalk.

➤ To reduce potential conflicts in the paths, the County will use stencil pavement markings to encourage people to walk on the right and bike on the left.

➤ A new ramp will be installed to allow bike users to leave the north sidewalk at the west end of the bridge (which is often crowded with people).

➤ The County has asked delivery firms that use large bicycles (like B-Line, UPS, and Portland Pedal Power) to avoid the bridge during peak weekday hours.

Asked why they couldn’t provide more space for bikers and walkers during the project, the County said, “Unfortunately, there are limitations to the space available based on where the repairs need to be made, the bridge structure, and the equipment our contractor will use.”

For more about this project, check out BurnsideBridge.org.

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

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Oregonlahar
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Oregonlahar

That is nearly a protected bike lane, gosh, almost better then what exists now.

Andrew Kreps
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Andrew Kreps

That sidewalk isn’t anywhere near 8 feet wide when you subtract the following:

– Posts that hold highway signs for cars over the bridge surface
– Lamp posts
– The lift-gate hardware

Despite promises to the contrary, the bicycle lane on the Morrison bridge was closed by heavy trucks for weeks before the construction began, during, and weeks after the project had been “completed”. This was not communicated via any media channel. I expect the same from this project as well.

fourknees
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fourknees

Will the lane configuration be any different when completed?
Any of these options: https://bikeportland.org/2015/06/15/better-burnside-bridge-look-like-three-possibilities-144426

maxD
Guest
maxD

I am disappointed to learn that this will impact SE 3rd. Getting for the CEID to NOPO, I use this to access the sidewalk on MLK to connect to the bike lanes on LLoyd. For some reason, taking a lane on Grand between Lloyd and Ankeny is not too bad, but I have had a lot of bad experiences on MLK so I avoid it. Thanks for this important update! BTW, I just saw they are preparing to open the right-hand lane of SE Madison as Bus Only between 11th and the bridge(I think)- I saw them torching down the thermoplastic this afternoon. Hopefully the Burnside Bridge will have a bus only lane and improved bike lanes.

rick
Guest
rick

Yay for road diets ! The entire bridge needs a bus-only lane.

Loran
Guest
Loran

Should be interesting in the summer when the tourists are wandering around with boxes of donuts, taking pictures of the white stag sign. Not to mention the folks lined up at mission for meals, and camped out on SW side. Taking the lane may be the best option….

MindfulCyclist
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MindfulCyclist

This doesn’t look as bad as I thought it was going to be. I took a pay cut in October to work for the same company and this bridge work was one of the reasons I did.

I will still use this bridge to get across even if it means going a little slower for a stretch of my ride.

Feel for the bus riders, though. When I did take the bus, my ride went from about 45 minutes circa 2011-2013 to well over an hour after that. And this is only going to make it worse.

Mike Sanders
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Mike Sanders

True. And I think they’re planning to close the bus stop at the west end of the bridge near the stairway to NW/SW 1st Av. as part of the project. Keep an eye on that, as many use it as a Saturday Market access point during the season.

Evan
Guest
Evan

I wouldn’t mind sharing a narrow path with people walking if it was clear all other space had been properly distributed. But 2 eastbound driving lanes is not right — we need either more biking & walking space or a dynamic bus lane.

Evan
Guest
Evan

Also, 12 feet per lane is at least 2 more than necessary. Even FHWA describes lanes narrower than 12 feet as a tool for reducing speeds. For the sake of workers at least, shouldn’t the County want to reduce speeds on the bridge during construction?

FHWA citation: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/geometric/pubs/mitigationstrategies/chapter3/3_lanewidth.cfm

With 2 x 3 = 6 more feet to work with, we could have an 8+6 = 14 foot biking & walking pathway on one side.

Bob Giordano
Guest

Transit bus should be a max of 8’6″ wide. Any mirrors should be narrow profile, breakaway, and mounted up high.

Spiffy
Subscriber

we need the crash railing to stay after construction to protect people from drivers with beverage malfunctions…

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

This just goes to show that the Burnside is far too wide, with far too much allocated to cars…the rest of the time.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Normally there are 43 traffic lanes open to cars to cross the Willamette in central Portland. Perhaps we don’t need to allow cars on the Burnside at all during construction. Preserve decently wide pedestrian and bike lanes, plus bus-only lanes. And that’s it.

alex
Guest
alex

(duplicate post, but this is the newer story and i commented on the older one)

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).

LauraK
Guest
LauraK

Rode westbound for the first time today. It is dangerously narrow. Will be finding a new commute route to/from downtown 🙁

John Liu
Subscriber

I didn’t find westbound dangerously narrow, but it was irritatingly narrow. You get stacked up behind the slowest rider. There are not many pedestrians when I ride in, but the few I saw were conscientiously walking to the right. Eastbound was similar, just as irritatingly narrow (a B-line bike would bottle up E/B just like W/B), and there really need to be pavement markings or signs at MLK to warn right-turning vehicles to yield to bikes.

The eastbound ride has already been made slow by the raised bike lane through the S curve, and now it is even slower.

Two years of this? Sigh.

LauraK
Guest
LauraK

There are pedestrians when I ride and even with their best efforts to stay right, it is extremely tight especially where there is a lamppost and they have to step out a little. Can’t imagine a bike with a trailer encountering someone with a shopping cart for example. Regular occurrence on this bridge. City says they asked the construction company to add signage at MLK Eastbound at least so that’s something (although they made clear it’s not their responsibility).