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Lucky 7th: PBOT makes final decision on carfree I-84 bridge alignment

Posted by on December 22nd, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Concept drawing of bridge and 7th to 7th alignment that was shown at December 5th project open house.

The future for walking and rolling between the Central Eastside and the Lloyd District looks much brighter.

That’s the NE Grand Ave crossing of I-84 on the left.

Yesterday the Portland Bureau of Transportation announced that they’ve chosen a 7th to 7th alignment for the carfree Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge.

The decision comes after over two years of analysis, studies, and community feedback that was solidified at an open house on December 5th where PBOT says they received “overwhelming support for the 7th to 7th alignment.”

Because of existing cycling connections through the Lloyd District, 7th was always the preferred option on the north side of I-84. On the south side PBOT was considering 7th, 8th, and 9th. 9th was cut early on in the process because it would have required the demolition of private property. A bridge from 7th to 8th would have been 130 feet shorter and less expensive to build; but it wasn’t as good of a fit with the cycling network to the south and other spatial constraints for where the bridge would have landed.

The news is being widely hailed by local bicycle insiders and activists. Because cycling access was ignored when Portland Streetcar was put on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and Grand Avenue to the west, and conditions on the NE 12th overcrossing are far from adequate, it’s extremely difficult for bicycle users to connect between the growing Central Eastside, the Lloyd District and northeast Portland neighborhoods.

7th Avenue is poised to become a major cycling corridor in the future and this crossing will provide much-needed momentum to make it happen. There’s already space set-aside for a protected bikeway on 7th through the Lloyd District (which connects to the protected bikeway on NE Multnomah and the neighborhood greenway at Tillamook) and the street is on the future alignment of the Green Loop. Also in the mix is how the new carfree bridge and associated bikeway upgrades could help boost momentum for building the first piece of the long-awaited Sullivan’s Gulch path along I-84.

As you can see in the graphics below (which were shown at the recent open house) PBOT assumes the future presence of a Sullivan’s Gulch path:

PBOT’s latest concept for the NE Lloyd/7th intersection at the northern landing of the bridge.

And since the presence of a major cycling bridge is imminent, there’s already talk about building a two-way protected cycle path adjacent to Lloyd Blvd between Grand and 9th to help people access it:

PBOT graphic. Notice the “Two-way protected bicycle facility”.

Check out this graphic shared at the recent open house that shows before and after conditions of the south landing of the new bridge:

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A major part of this project will be the redesign of the 7th and Lloyd intersection at the bridge’s northern landing. As we reported one year ago, there was lots of excitement around PBOT’s initial plan for a roundabout or protected intersection. However now it appears those designs aren’t being considered and instead they’re looking at an upgraded, but more traditional intersection design (as seen above).

According to PBOT’s evaluation, the roundabout didn’t move forward in part because it was more expensive and it allegedly wouldn’t handle the projected level of automobile use in 2035:

Comparing the currently recommended design of NE 7th/Lloyd intersection with a previously considered roundabout design.

The design of the bridge itself remains to be determined, but PBOT already knows it will have a 5 percent slope (downhill from north to south) and will have 24-feet of usable deck for walking and rolling. With the alignment decision made, PBOT is now able to vet bridge types at a deeper level.

Here’s one of the potential bridge designs known as “Skip”:

Suffice it to say this bridge will be an absolute game changer and it can’t happen soon enough. PBOT says the bridge will cost between $9 and $13 million (funded mostly by System Development Charges, fees paid by developers) and construction will begin in 2019.

Check out the official project page here.

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

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dwk
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dwk

I love all these pie in the sky projects…
Meanwhile the Tillamook crossing at 7th is about the most dangerous place I see in my 30 mile a day commute and nothing is done about it.

Momo
Guest
Momo

This bridge project will create a lot of momentum to improve 7th Ave further north.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Tillamook was supposed to go ahead of Lincoln-Harrison, but BES is replacing pipe on the west half next year.

dwk
Guest
dwk

So the “city that works,” the vision zero leader, the city that always touts its fake bike reputation worldwide cannot fix ONE very dangerous intersection of one if its “touted” greenways?
Seriously?
Someone will die here……

mark
Guest
mark

Tillamook will probably still go ahead of Lincoln-Harrison, since the city has gone back to the drawing board on that project to satisfy the whiny drivers in the neighborhood.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Really? NE Tillamook at 7th? It’s not great but I would hardly say it’s the worst place to bike in the city…

Justin
Guest
Justin

It will be so awesome not having to bike on MLK for those couple blocks coming down into SE from North Portland. I love this! I like this so much, I can’t even think of what to be mad about and what I should hate about it. I’ll check back on the comments in an hour for inspiration 🙂

Justin
Guest
Justin

wow. the other commenters did not fail to disappoint. Well, after seeing other complaints, can I just say I hate how noisy this crossing will be. We should replace the highway with river and the cars with canoes. Also the whole river should be underground.

maxD
Guest
maxD

I guess some of this snark is aimed at me. Sorry if my critique comes off as unrealistic or nit-picky, but this is a big deal project that has been planned and wished for for a long time. The City is spending a lot of money on a very needed and great project. However, the project is firmly in the hands of a group of Engineers who are very competent and committed, but may be missing the forest for the trees in a few aspects of this projects. For the most part, most of things I care about would not cost any more to do, but they would contribute to the end result becoming a great place that feels great to use and reinforces Portland’s character.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

Awesome project! Great location. The roar from vehicle traffic during off peak hours will be maddening.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Jonthan (or Michael Anderson, etc.) – would someone followup on “why” the RA (roundabout) fell out of the proposal for the intersection design…it would likely function safer, AND give cyclists higher access priority for a regional route [unless the cross street rests at red – due to its assumed lower arterial classification functionality].

maxD
Guest
maxD

Getting this bridge built will transform biking in central Portland and benefit me a great deal. There area a number of details I wish they would attend to a bit more:
1. Short stretches of 2-way cylcletracks on one side of the road are a terrible idea. They are onerous to exit and enter. Any small safety benefit that is gained while using them is more than negated by the danger, discomfort and inconvenience of accessing them. This plan shows 2 of these, one on the south side on 7th for one block, the other on the south side of Lloyd for 4 blocks. just put bike panes on each side of Lloyd and sharrows on 7th.
2. The bridge designs are all glorified expressions of structural principals. The team lacks a designer with sensitivity to the pedestrian experience. This bridge will be loud, smelly, and uncomfortable, but offer great views. The Highway and RR each have screening requirements that should be a driving decision, not a tacked-on afterthought. Pay more attention the experience of using the bridge.
3. The bridge is a landmark, gateway and overlook. In some ways, it marks one end of the experience of traveling from Portland through the Gorge. It would nice if the bridge could pick up on some of the design language of places like Rocky Butte, Vista House, Vista Bridge, etc. The bridgeheads could include battered rock walls or detailed cast concrete, pedestrian lighting could take the form of a series of lanterns instead of overhead cobras. The bridge would be a more effective gateway if it were more level and perpendicular to I-84. This could be achieved by landing on the north bank west of 7th, and climbing the bank to the east at 5% to meet with 7th ave.
4. I am afraid the bridge is too narrow. The cross sections that I have see have raised sidewalks on either side with a 2-way bike “road” in the center. This gives 6′ sidewalks and 6-foot bike lanes- all pretty cramped if this bridge becomes as successful as it should. Also, if they combined the sidewalks on the west side, the walking space would become much more comfortable and give people walking a great view of downtown. Again, this is being designed by engineers who bring an automobile-sensibility to the design: keep each mode and direction segregated.
5. The “place” is on the bridgeheads, but the design is all about the bridge. The bridge is over a highway, not a river. It will be incredibly loud. The bridgeheads should become little plazas for meeting, gathering, viewing, etc.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Here’s the Gateway to Gridlock we have at the Sunset Transit center (officially, as of 2016, the “Terry Hofferber Moore Pedestrian Bridge”). This is one of the 3 crossings of US 26 I have to make just to go straight into town, but it is the most artistic, and the only one that is bike/ped only. It saves me some significant distance, plus bonus: it’s covered.

But it is extremely loud, and if one were prone to it, one could experience vertigo if one looked too intently down at freeway traffic. Also, one would likely be subject to arrest if one were to meet/gather/view anything from here. But then this crossing is so old that I remember when they took down the “NO BICYCLE RIDING, SKATEBOARDING…etc.” signs and actually acknowledged that it wasn’t just a walking path to get to/from transit, but a real, live transportation link across a crappy freeway. So 20 years later, the next county over, and a different agency (PBOT vs. TriMet), and maybe the 7th St./Sullivan’t Gulch crossing will be totally awesome.

soren
Guest
soren

I urge everyone to support the cheaper pre-prefabricated deck option so that the ~$3-4 million in TSDC funding saved can be used other badly needed local bike/ped improvements. The planner and engineer I spoke to assured me that the cheaper prefab bridge would have similar longevity and functionality as the more expensive “pretty” option.

kathryn
Guest
kathryn

While I mostly agree, the neighborhood groups pitching in money who have been advocating for this for years, a decade or more, don’t want a cheap looking bridge.

and David- the bridge will allow emergency vehicle access.

soren
Guest
soren

which neighborhood groups are funding this project?

(it was my understanding that bridge was being funded largely via TSDCs and some additional government funding.)

maccoinnich
Guest

What are you basing those numbers on?

John
Guest
John

They’re not accurate.

soren
Guest
soren

I quote from Jonathan’s piece:

PBOT says the bridge will cost between $9 and $13 million (funded mostly by System Development Charges, fees paid by developers) and construction will begin in 2019.

And a snapshot of Table 1 from the ridiculously large and malformed PDF from KPFF that can be found on the relevant PBOT site:

https://imgur.com/a/oEYUS

maccoinnich
Guest

The lowest cost option in the report, the pre-manufactured steel H truss (Option 1A), would require the complete closure of I-84 while the bridge span is erected. I imagine the chances of ODOT agreeing to that are next to zero.

Gregg
Guest

When this gets built, it’ll be one of the biggest immediate impacts to people who ride bicycles since… I don’t know when.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Gregg, I assume you mean a “positive” impact…

Gregg
Guest

I sure do!

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Since the Tilikum Crossing opened.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Questions:
1. Given a 24-foot width and its location, if someone decides to camp on the bridge, who will be legally responsible for dealing with the camper? Will it be Portland, as in the Springwater? Or ODOT, as in the I-205 trail?
2. Also given a 24-foot width and the design options being considered, will the bridge support motor vehicles? Could it be converted to two-way traffic for cars?

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

This is great, with the extra bike traffic this will generate ( isn’t it cool that extra bike traffic is a good thing, while extra car traffic causes troubles for everyone) I hope PBOT also buts a little effort in to upgrading the crossing at 7th and Broadway.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Yes!! I cannot wait for this bridge to unveil and I can stop using the 12th street bridge every morning. The 11th street/Lloyd/12st street bridge jog takes forever if you don’t hit the light at 11th just so and can be a little hair raising if you’re navigating the curve alongside a TriMet bus. Anyway, this can’t get started soon enough for me! 🙂

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

great a nice new super noisy crossing..might as well be on the 205 bridge…
why not just CAP that whole area…?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Because they don’t have billions of dollars to spend on freeway caps.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Good points about the lighting and the incline. Go to YouTube and look at some of the bike/ped bridges they have in Holland and Japan. The connections to the future I-84 trail and the Lloyd Center area should be part of the duscussion. At present, Lloyd Blvd. between 99E and 12th have sidewalks only on the north side of Lloyd Blvd., a legacy left over from the old Sears store (now Metro HQ). And I’ve always windred why Multnomah St. can’t be reduced to one lane each way. Traffic tends to move fast thru there, even with the bike lane. Improving the crosswalks to/from Lloyd Center across Multnomah with refuges in the middle of the street would help. And what’s wrong with roundabouts? True, something needs to be done with the 39th (Chavez)/Glisan one, which uses stop signs and blinkers, which slow the traffic but create an awful traffic pattern there. But this ped/bike bridge (and the forthcoming one over I-405) would be a step in the right direction, but this has to be done right.

MonicaInPDX
Guest
MonicaInPDX

This will definitely improve safety for some teens I know who need to cycle to the central Eastside from North Portland. I do hope the city can simultaneously discourage camping along the bridge. My young daughter has abandoned the wonderful and safe Bryant Street bridge for the busy I-5 interchange on Rosa Parks Ave for her daily commute, because frequent intoxicated campers cause her to feel unsafe in the isolated Bryant area. Other friends’ kids no longer bike through Interstate by the East Bank esplanade access because campers block the wide sidewalk path. Somehow we have to address these complex issues so we don’t continue to lose the benefits of these multi-million dollar infrastructure investments (among other reasons).

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I don’t see the point of building the Sullivan’s Gulch MUP. It will simply become a heroin highway, and an outright dangerous place at night.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

For the most part, the Sullivan’s Gulch trail may be isolated and somewhat superfluous, but for the purposes of this project it would be an enormous boost to safety given a separated two-way cycle track from the IRQ down Lloyd to 16th and Multnomah.

mark
Guest
mark

Agreed. Even if it didn’t have those issues, it would still be filled with toxic air generated by the freeway. I love the idea of a direct off-street path for bike traffic, but I would never use the Sullivan’s Gulch because of the pollution.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

The reason they don’t put in a roundabout is simple. It requires next level thinking which nobody wants to attack. They already have a signals department which. Is happy to charge for installation. And forever maintenance. So…various internal interests win. Plus, seniors by and large, hate those “left roundabouts”.

Got to love we are planning for future car volume, not future bike volume. Which shows you how pbot is really staffed.

maccoinnich
Guest

I’m really pleased that they chose the 7th Ave alignment. While the 7th-8th Ave alignment could have been slightly cheaper, it would have resulted in out of direction travel. Decades later when nobody remembers the cost it would have been a decision we would regret.

However, while I’m glad to see the Lloyd Blvd two-way protected bikeway move forward it doesn’t have a lot of utility if it only goes between Grand and 9th. This project was proposed in the Central City Plan as a lower cost alternative to segment 1 of the Sullivan’s Gulch trail. To serve any useful purpose it really needs to extend to the Steel Bridge to the west and 12th to the east. Otherwise it’s hard to imagine who will ever use it, or why.

soren
Guest
soren

if 11th and 12th are selected as a bikeway couplet by the central city in motion plan then 8th would have been slightly less out of the way. i was disappointed by the lack of information on how this bridge might connect with future bikeways. this might have helped people make a more informed choice.

curly
Subscriber
curly

Very pretty. This will be very convenient for the cyclists of North/Northeast Portland. Not how I would prefer $10-15 million to be spent considering the # of fatalities of late.

soren
Guest
soren

the bulk of the funding comes from local transportation system development charges that cannot be spent outside of the area. i personally would like to see this restriction lifted by the city. wealthier areas should be heavily subsidizing infrastructure in less wealthy areas, imo.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I agree. Development in close in neighborhoods tends to displace lower income to further out areas. SDCs generated from close in development should be available to improve the further out areas.

maccoinnich
Guest

“Development in close in neighborhoods tends to displace lower income to further out areas”

[citation needed]

soren
Guest
soren

In my neighborhood which is very close to Mr. Liu’s one of the major causes of displacement is the flipping and/or demolishing of SFR homes that are being used as shared rental housing. This displacement is directly attributable to the exclusionary and anti-renter land-use policies favored by Mr. Liu.

buzz
Guest
buzz

I’ll believe it when I see it, let’s hope they don’t make the connections at each end too convoluted!

mark
Guest
mark

Ha! Tilikum anyone?

oliver
Guest
oliver

90 dgr right angle turns for everyone!!!!!!!!1!!!

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Saint Joan had no problem with her horse at Glisan/Chavez.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Glisan isn’t a true roundabout with their draconian stop signs. Although, I stopped stopping for them years ago.

rick
Guest
rick

Giant work parties to remove English Ivy will be needed.

inwe
Guest
inwe

seems to me that if we go about everything with the expectation of more automobile traffic in 17 years, we have already failed. it’s failure of policy and planning as much as it is a failure of imagination and political will.

what’s the point of setting goals (and lots of them) if we’re going to assume we don’t meet them?

Matt
Guest
Matt

I have been following this project for years and although I am delighted that it is finally happening I am surprised by the final choice. Although the chosen bridge will undoubtedly be a very beautiful structure I can’t help thinking the $4M saved with the other option would buy a lot of much needed safety improvements elsewhere. NE 7th from Broadway to Tillamook would be a great place to start.

soren
Guest
soren

there is no final choice of bridge structure. lobby pbot for a less expensive option.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

This bridge and the Flanders Crossing will be welcome improvements!

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

Do they expect a lot of pedestrian traffic? I’m asking because I’m curious about delineating bikes and peds on and off the bridge, and separating them from parked and moving motor vehicles on 7th.
Personally I like a shared street concept with fewer signs and stripes whenever possible.

Carl
Guest
Carl

Hell yeah! I raise a glass of seven and seven to this welcome news. Next up: getting PBOT not to wimp out on continuing north on 7th…