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Fence abruptly closes access to Willamette Park path at Nevada St

Posted by on January 8th, 2018 at 11:56 am

The Oregon Department of Transportation Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau (PP&R) has erected a fence across an entrance into Willamette Park. Jeff Mapes, an employee of nearby Oregon Public Broadcasting, encountered a crew putting the finishing touches on the fence this morning. “Very annoying,” he shared in a tweet this morning.

Based on a series of Twitter responses to Mapes, it appears PP&R has also been caught off guard by the new fence. “We did not close the path nor install the fence; it is an ODOT endeavor that is impacting access to our park,” the agency’s Public Information Officer Mark Ross wrote. The fence is just a few yards from a railroad crossing that’s under the jurisdiction of ODOT’s Rail Division. “It has been a usable crossing and was just now fenced off. Not a good look,” Parks commented on Twitter on this morning. “It is a complicated endeavor and a hassle for commuters and park visitors!” (Note: As you can read in updates below, Ross got his initial information from a Parks project manager and has since learned that Parks did indeed erect the fence.)

The path section in question is a carfree entrance into the park that’s right outside the OPB headquarters on Nevada Street (see map below), just one block east of SW Macadam Avenue. For years it was an unimproved and relatively sketchy crossing (I’ve used it several times to get to OPB studios) with big bumps and cracked pavement. It was repaved a few years ago in advance of the Portland Water Bureau’s Hannah Mason Pump Station project, which the City of Portland opened back in June. Another factor that has recently brought more attention to this crossing is PP&R’s Willamette Park redevelopment project.

The three entrances to the park. The fence has closed the middle entrance (Nevada St.).

In a statement provided via email a few minutes ago, PP&R Media Relations Manager Mark Ross said the fence was required by ODOT Rail. Ross says due to the impact it will have on park visitors, PP&R is, “working quickly to craft and put up signs to direct people to use the other park entrances, on SW Miles St. or SW Nebraska St.” The Nebraska St entrance is about 1/3 of a mile north and Miles is about one-tenth of a mile south.

Using those other entrances, Mapes said on Twitter this morning, “Means riding on Macadam or sidewalk for a ways. Both less safe than riding over tracks that are seldom used.”

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View of Nevada Street entrance into Willamette Park. The new fence is just on the other side of those trees.

Why did ODOT erect the fence was the fence installed? We’re still waiting to hear from them directly; but Ross said it’s because the current crossing doesn’t meet federal railroad crossing requirements.

This seems to be a case where the path and its users have gotten tangled up in miles of bureauratic red tape. In addition to PP&R and ODOT Rail, the Portland Water Bureau and the Trolley Consortium (a Metro-led group that must sign-off on any changes to the design of the crossing) all involved in the design, permitting and funding.

Ross says the fence could be up for several months. “We anticipate the permitting to take much of the winter and possibly into spring before we can begin the necessary improvements. Once we have permits and a legal Crossing Order, we will look to make the needed improvements. Note that a contractor and funding have not been secured yet for this work, so a definitive schedule is not known yet. We continue to work on that with the PWB [Portland Water Bureau].”

While we understand the bureaucratic, multi-jurisdictional complexity here, it’s very unfortunate that ODOT decided to erect a fence over a path and did so without warning and without a plan for detour signage for users. The fence, which is black and has no reflectors or signs giving prior warning that it exists, is also a safety hazard. Paul Souders shared on Twitter just now that, “I (almost literally) ran into this fence this morning.”

We’re in contact with ODOT’s communications person but have yet to receive a detailed response. We’ll update this story when we do.

UPDATE I: ODOT Public Information Officer Don Hamilton says ODOT didn’t do it. Here’s his email:

Let me address ODOT’s role in this.

1) We strongly encouraged the City of Portland to put up a fence there after certain safety elements at that crossing had been removed.

2) ODOT did not put up that fence.

UPDATE II: Acccording to Pacific Fence Co., it was Portland Parks and Rec who ordered the installation of the fence. There seems to have been a miscommunication. We will get it ironed out ASAP.

UPDATE III: Here’s the latest statement we’ve received from Portland Parks (and it was forwarded from ODOT’s Don Hamilton as well so he is in agreement with it (emphasis mine):

“Construction barricades had been installed at this park entrance since last autumn (in the neighborhood of September/October 2017), and the entrance closure has been noted on our website since that time. The closure is due to infrastructure improvements yet to be completed, part of the Portland Water Bureau’s work regarding the new Hannah Mason Pump Station. Those construction barriers were repeatedly being moved, and so the ODOT Railroad Authority strongly encouraged either a temporary fence to be installed, or for the City to immediately close/remove the path. In the interest of safety and expediency, Portland Parks & Recreation had a contractor install the temporary fence today (Monday, January 8) to comply. Noting the impact the fence has to park visitors, PP&R is working quickly to craft and put up signs to direct people to use the other park entrances, on SW Miles St. or SW Nebraska St.”

— 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 productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

112 Comments
  • bikeninja January 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Who put up the fence?, Gremlins? Did I miss something or is everyone involved denying it.

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  • Scott Mizée January 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks for the timely reporting, Jonathan. Could you please clarify your update. I know what you mean, but it looks like you are saying Portland marks says they (Portland parks) put up the fence.

    Thanks!

    “UPDATE: ODOT says they didn’t install the fence. Portland Parks says they did. We’ll get it sorted ASAP.”

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  • rick January 8, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    If only that trolley was a trail.

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  • oliver January 8, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    “The Trolley Consortium (a Metro-led group that must sign-off on any changes to the design of the crossing)”

    Does the crossing design include a chain link barrier to the path? If not, then then the fence should come down until it has been signed off, not the other way around.

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    • Lance Lindahl January 8, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      The consortium that owned the rail line was recently disbanded. The real estate assets were transferred to TriMet.

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      • rick January 8, 2018 at 1:28 pm

        Where is the proof?

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        • q January 8, 2018 at 10:08 pm

          The sign that Parks put up today mentions the “Trolley Consortium”, so if it was disbanded, Parks doesn’t know yet.

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  • axoplasm January 8, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    I nearly ran into this fence (at speed!) this morning, coming eastbound from Nevada St. I was so used to the new sidewalk-to-path connection here that it had become part of my regular route. I wasn’t expecting a fricking FENCE.

    It can easily be ridden or walked around. It’s practically a middle finger to the notion of efficient bike/ped travel. Jeff’s picture accurately captures the lunacy.

    The distance to alternative crossings (of Macadam) is not huge but suggesting “Miles St.” is hilarious. That’s actually the bottom of Taylor’s Ferry. No one’s first choice. Nevada St. has a snazzy new light with reasonable signals and low traffic, an excellent crossing of Macadam for commuters heading downhill on Virginia or Corbett.

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    • Betsy Reese January 8, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      “I nearly ran into this fence (at speed!) this morning”

      This fence should not be up even one night without reflectors on it, and possibly advance pavement markings and/or signs. If anyone is passing by, possibly you could tie some strips from a white plastic bag on it or something? (Please reply here if you’ve got it covered for the interim.) I have just emailed Mark Ross and Don Hamilton with a request for reflectors before a bicyclist breaks their neck on this black chainlink fence clotheslined across a bicycle route.

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      • Betsy Reese January 9, 2018 at 11:17 am

        Thanks to Mark Ross of PP&R for a quick e-mail response last night to my after-hours email request, and immediate action this morning.

        From Mark at 10:37 AM this morning: “Safety cones are in place, and staff have added reflective tape to the the temporary fence.”

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        • q January 9, 2018 at 12:20 pm

          I hope you’re being facetious. They did do that a couple hours ago. They put a cone a foot away from each end of the fence, so now you have to walk a foot further to go around it.

          They put two more cones in front on the Macadam side, located inches from the rail, so if any trolley comes, they’ll be knocked over, and ODOT will probably remove those if they find out they’re there.

          And they didn’t bother with being minimally courteous, and telling people at the bottom of the ramp, or up at Macadam.

          Plus, the guy who put them in parked his truck the whole time illegally next to where the path comes out at the driveway, so people using the Greenway Trail had to stare into his headlights (that he left on) and can’t see oncoming traffic as they head from the path into the street.

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    • q January 8, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      Miles Street’s surface has always been poor, and it was basically destroyed by the Sellwood Bridge project’s use of it as a construction access for its heavy equipment. The County has refused to pay to repair the damage it did to the street, instead saying it’s PBOT’s responsibility, which is ironic given that it was PBOT that gave the County permission to use it for construction.

      There are so many potholes I would not recommend it for bikes. Also (again ironically) the trolley has ignored its own stop signs at Miles St. When I complained to the trolley line for blowing a stop sign in front of me as I was coming down Miles St. last summer, it took five days to get a response, and the response I did get finally was a denial that it happened.

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  • rick January 8, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Fencegates have become so common in the metro area.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 8, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Most fences have one.

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      • rick January 8, 2018 at 1:27 pm

        I meant to refer to horrible gate designs. Like the ones at suburban schools which block bicycles because of the narrow widths preventing handlebars.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy January 8, 2018 at 4:02 pm

        Which side are you on?

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  • Lance Lindahl January 8, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Let’s all take a moment to let the incompetence of Portland Parks & Recreation soak in here. They tried to pin the blame on ODOT when ODOT owns zero land in this area. Yes, they do have some regulatory authority over the rail line, but they do not own it. That would fall on TriMet which is the owner of record. What is their take on all of this and why haven’t they commented?

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    • rick January 8, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      I think ODOT has some control of the rail line.

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    • Lance Lindahl January 9, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Looks like I made a mistake and jumped to conclusions on how Parks is handling this issue. This is a complex situation with lots of involved parties. Jonathan’s update on ODOT’s involvement is accurate. Parks is working hard on a resolution that resolves this matter and restores public access. My apologies.

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      • q January 9, 2018 at 6:02 pm

        Don’t feel too apologetic.

        I do assume Parks is working diligently on a permanent solution. On the other hand, Parks has been using that crossing for decades without getting a permit for it.

        Plus, Parks took six months just to print out a piece of paper and zip-tie it up at the entrance to tell people what was going on, despite months of pleading by people to do that. Parks sat by doing nothing for months onsite about its temporary barriers that were scattered all over the entrance serving no real purpose beyond tripping people. Parks ran hundreds of people through that entrance for a concert while the trolley was running knowing it was illegal, and knowing the trolley was running, and ignored people’s requests to at least put up a sign during the concert. Parks and Fritz’s office couldn’t even return calls or emails about this whole situation for months.

        Then last week, Parks suddenly put up a dangerous black fence with no explanation and denied that they did it. And there are still no signs at the bottom of the ramp, or on Macadam.

        However, the party not being heard from is Metro. The only logical solution would be to stop the trolley from running until the ODOT permit is approved. I’d love to hear why they aren’t agreeing to that. It would sure make things easier for Parks.

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        • Scott Mizée January 10, 2018 at 7:45 am

          I was following you until the last paragraph. How is it logical that the Trolley be stopped from operating (seasonally)? Please expand on this conclusion for clarity.

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          • q January 10, 2018 at 10:03 am

            The trolley is the only rail user. ODOT closed the crossing because Parks never got a permit for the crossing, and the purpose of the permit is to verify that required safety measures are in place so someone crossing doesn’t get hit by a train.

            The bureaucracy’s solution to achieve safety in the meantime has been to close the crossing to people, but leave it open to the trolley. However, Parks, Metro and ODOT have several months proof that they’re unable to stop people from crossing, first with their temporary barriers and now with their fence.

            Plus, even in peak trolley season, there are more people walking or biking across in an afternoon than ride the trolley in a week. And outside peak season (now until summer) the trolley doesn’t even have regular runs–just an occasional (if that) maintenance or special run.

            Plus, while it’s impossible and unfair to shut the entrance to the thousands of user trips that will happen between now and summer, it would be easy to stop the few (at most) trolley runs. Then the crossing would be 100% safe until the required safety improvements are made and the permit issued. And the trolley’s regular runs can start up around Memorial Day like usual.

            In fact, for the last few years, the trolley didn’t even run past the Sellwood Bridge, because there were no tracks past the bridge. Even after the tracks were reinstalled, the trolley STILL didn’t run past Miles St. So this apparent idea of the bureaucracy that the trolley has such a desperate need to run through the Nevada crossing before the permit issues can be resolved that it’s justifiable to shut the park entrance to thousands of user trips is bogus.

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            • Scott Mizée January 10, 2018 at 11:02 am

              Thank you for unpacking that for me, q! Makes total sense!

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            • Dan A January 10, 2018 at 11:31 am

              I’m totally unfamiliar with this trolley, and have never seen it before. Is there some reason it can’t follow the basic speed law, and just slow down as it passes through this area?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 10, 2018 at 8:04 pm

                It could double its speed and still comply with that law.

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  • Grant January 8, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    The next train scheduled to run on those tracks is “late spring 2018.” I’m glad this imminent public safety threat was eliminated.

    http://wst.oregontrolley.com/wst-schedule-fares/

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    • axoplasm January 8, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      The actual trolley only runs two or three times a day on weekends in the summer — and is frequently cancelled bc no one actually bought tickets. It moves about 15mph.

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      • rick January 8, 2018 at 4:24 pm

        Not mass transit.

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        • Mike Quigley January 9, 2018 at 5:40 am

          But, the future of mass transit?

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          • rick January 9, 2018 at 9:36 am

            It operates too slowly. It is tourist transit.

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    • maccoinnich January 8, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      From ODOT’s concerns you would think this was the Union Pacific mainline or something. I doubt there’s a single paved road in Portland that sees as little use as this train line does.

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      • q January 8, 2018 at 8:01 pm

        The trolley runs several times per week in summer, and in December when the Christmas ships are out. That’s it, other than special runs a few additional times per year.

        Before the fence was put up, there were some construction barriers set up for several months that were always moved or knocked down instantly. The trolley sent its maintenance crew out a time or two to re-erect them. Since there were no other runs at that time of year, what that meant was that the only rail traffic was the maintenance vehicle coming to re-arrange the barriers that were warning people of rail traffic (!). If they’d stopped coming to re-arrange the barriers, there would have been no rail traffic to warn against.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 8, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    OK sorry for all the confusion folks. Just added a final statement from Parks. Turns out Parks did install in the fence (was miscommunication between a Project Manager and the media relations person)…

    UPDATE III: Here’s the latest statement we’ve received from Portland Parks (and it was forwarded from ODOT’s Don Hamilton as well so he is in agreement with it (emphasis mine):

    “Construction barricades had been installed at this park entrance since last autumn (in the neighborhood of September/October 2017), and the entrance closure has been noted on our website since that time. The closure is due to infrastructure improvements yet to be completed, part of the Portland Water Bureau’s work regarding the new Hannah Mason Pump Station. Those construction barriers were repeatedly being moved, and so the ODOT Railroad Authority strongly encouraged either a temporary fence to be installed, or for the City to immediately close/remove the path. In the interest of safety and expediency, Portland Parks & Recreation had a contractor install the temporary fence today (Monday, January 8) to comply. Noting the impact the fence has to park visitors, PP&R is working quickly to craft and put up signs to direct people to use the other park entrances, on SW Miles St. or SW Nebraska St.”

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    • Andrew Kreps January 8, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      so…no word on how what they did actually made the area _more_ dangerous for all users?

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    • rick January 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      just wow. Try the greenway that is Highway 43 !

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  • Dan A January 8, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Platinum!

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 8, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      #whatwouldplatinumdo

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  • X January 8, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    . . .and in level 17, fences pop up on your commute route!

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 8, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      That’s the platinum level, to right?

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  • Scott Mizée January 8, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Many, many gremlins. 😉

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  • CaptainKarma January 8, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Or they could wait until the fence was actually needed, and useful?

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    • JLA January 8, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      There are so many levels of nonsense here. For one, as has been mentioned, this rail line is used seasonally, and even then with trolley cars that operate at like 10 mph that ding-ding their way down the whole line. Pretty much a bunch of “Caution: Train Crossing” signs would be sufficient from a common-sense standpoint. Adding a jet-black chain-link fence makes it nearly invisible at night, which I encountered before Parks added some minimal “Crossing Closed” signs today. These are letter-sized printouts in a plastic cover. Also, there’s plenty of room to go around, which everyone will, which is sensible because, again, almost no trains pass here! All that this will do is confuse cyclist and pedestrians, cause some near-misses at night (like I did), and cause erosion and mud as casual detours arise on either side of the fence.

      I can literally see this out my window at work and a three-year-old just gleefully ran ahead of her parents, crossed the track, and went around the fence…

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      • Chris I January 9, 2018 at 11:41 am

        **comment deleted — It’s one thing to exclaim “boltcutters!” out of frustration, but I won’t allow you to plan the actual act of vandalism here on the bikeportland. That crosses a line. I hope you understand. — Jonathan.**

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  • SilkySlim January 8, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Did they truly install just that single panel worth of fence?

    I can’t imagine being the fence guy for that project… “So, just to triple-check, you want the fence to go perpendicular to the path? Like, blocking it? Are you sure?”

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    • oliver January 9, 2018 at 8:50 am

      The cynic in me says that 90% of tradesman/contractors hate cyclists.

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      • Dan A January 9, 2018 at 9:24 am

        I have a friend who’s a contractor, and one of the most generous people you’d ever meet. He regularly travels to Indonesia on his own dime to help build shelters for sexually trafficked little girls, and was a huge help in our Cub Scout Pack, organizing all sorts of service projects for the community. But if there’s one thing in the world he hates, it’s cyclists proceeding straight through an intersection when he wants to turn right. He has complained to me about it repeatedly, about how much time it costs him, and how they seem to have special rights that interfere with his ability to get where he’s going.

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      • q January 9, 2018 at 10:06 am

        My experience is that that’s not true, but more importantly, it’s not the installers who made the decision to erect the fence. Tradespeople just get blamed for bad decisions because they’re the ones the public sees.

        And often, bad decisions are carried out despite the tradespeople trying to reason with their customers. And many, many poor decisions have NOT been carried out, due to tradespeople convincing customers that their ideas shouldn’t be carried out.

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      • 9watts January 9, 2018 at 2:45 pm

        “90% of tradesman/contractors hate cyclists.”

        Did it occur to you that some tradesmen/contractors get around by bicycle? I know a few.

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        • Dan A January 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm

          I assume they are in the 10%, ha ha.

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          • 9watts January 9, 2018 at 5:45 pm

            Or the 1%. Haha.

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  • One January 8, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    The same Jeff Mapes that wrote the influential Pedaling Revolution. I love that guy.

    https://www.google.com/search?ei=ketTWsCVN-uUjwTJ6q_YCg&q=pedaling+revolution&oq=pedaling+revolution&gs_l=mobile-gws-serp.1.0.0i20i265k1j0j0i22i30k1.27592.36575.0.38602.44.41.2.0.0.0.974.14715.0j2j18j7j5j0j6.38.0..2..0…1.1.64.mobile-gws-serp..26.18.6952.3..35i39k1j0i131k1j0i67k1j0i20i264k1j0i20i264i265k1.217.9B90FauXAY8

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  • benschon January 8, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    It would be nice to hear a commitment from Parks to keeping this public entrance to the park open, once infrastructure improvements are complete.

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  • pdx2wheeler January 8, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Dangers from a train that never runs… This whole rail line is a total joke. It should be converted to a MUP to connect Portland with Lake Oswego immediately.

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  • Bjorn January 8, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Painting it black is an awesome way for someone to get hurt riding into it at night.

    In totally unrelated news that has nothing to do with the new fence home depot has some great deals on tools: https://thd.co/2AGWf9d

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  • K'Tesh January 8, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    I’d be tempted to see what some tools could do to that fence. 😉

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    • K'Tesh January 8, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      But then, I’m currently not in the US.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy January 8, 2018 at 4:04 pm

        I think this should be the standard online comment for anyone about to undertake some form of vandalism 🙂

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        • Dan A January 8, 2018 at 4:20 pm

          Now that’s funny.

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        • K'Tesh January 8, 2018 at 4:30 pm

          Me? Vandalize something? Never 😉

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          • soren January 8, 2018 at 10:24 pm

            ODOT knows!

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  • Spiffy January 8, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    nice to see PPR getting into the cyclecross spirit… we should get some pics of people putting their bikes over it…

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    • Bjorn January 8, 2018 at 4:07 pm

      I wonder if someone from the lumberyard would want to build a couple of ramps so you could jump it.

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      • Stephen Keller January 9, 2018 at 1:37 pm

        I’d be down for that. Been wanting to strut my BMX chops.

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  • Tim January 8, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    The only thing “safety elements” lacking seem to be the white stop lines, Maybe the SW Carolina st crossing going into the Willamette Sailing club should be close also…..

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  • Tim January 8, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    closed

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  • Dan A January 8, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Jeez, who runs PP&R anyway? Makes you think they don’t care for bikes.

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    • rick January 9, 2018 at 9:34 am

      Amanda Fritz did attend the 102 degree summer opening of the Gateway Green mountain bike park last year.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 9, 2018 at 10:04 am

        Yes, but she personally installed this fence, and thinks people shouldn’t ride bikes on the sidewalk downtown.

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        • q January 9, 2018 at 10:27 am

          Actually you’re not that far off with Fritz. In June, I saw her at the pump station opening, and told her I had several concerns about the park, including this exact Nevada entrance situation (because the trolley was running again, and the City had removed the rail crossing signs, which at the time were still lying on the ground.

          She told me to call her staff and set up a meeting for her to discuss my concerns. I tried for 6 weeks, and finally two staff met with me. I carefully prepared and explained everything. They promised to get back to me but never did. They stopped answering my reminder emails, and I gave up after several months. So all my safety issues, including this one, remain unresolved.

          Parks and Fritz just didn’t care. If they’d listened then, this fence debacle wouldn’t be happening now.

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          • Scott Mizée January 9, 2018 at 10:04 pm

            wow. I’d be curious to hear the explanation from the PP&R viewpoint.

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      • Dan A January 9, 2018 at 10:36 am

        She is in support of biking in places far away where she isn’t around to see it?

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    • I wear many hats January 9, 2018 at 10:01 am

      word

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  • B. Carfree January 8, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Now I’m trying to imagine any roadway that is considered critical to people in cars being arbitrarily blocked without warning or public discussion. Just drop some black jersey barriers across some freeway onramp and be done with it. I daresay such a notion would never make it out of any bureaucratic meeting intact, and yet it is standard operating procedure with respect to what little bike infrastructure that exists.

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    • 9watts January 9, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      The thinking that differentiates these two is called Car-head.

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  • Mark smith January 8, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    So, where is the gofundme for boltcutters?

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  • Mike Sanders January 8, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Are they saying that this crossing must have gates, lights and bells under federal regulations, and nobody can use it until they’re installed and working? And why did they use black fencing instead of orange fencing? Hoo-boy. And no, they can’t turn it into a MUP because the tracks were rebuilt over the winter and the trolley will reopen this spring. The NIMBY’s who have the river views along Hwy. 43 say that any attempt to turn the corridor into a MUP would be nothing more than a bookmark for a MAX or streetcar line behind their backyards, which they claim requires a region wide election first. So, thanks to the new fence, you’ll have to follow the narrow sudewalk on Hwy. 43 very probably until the mess gets sorted out. By the way, the news that Tri-Met now maintains the trolley line will be news to a lot of people…not all of them ped/bike friendly.

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    • q January 8, 2018 at 9:47 pm

      Actually, you can just walk around the fence. It’s a lot safer than going hundreds of yards along Macadam (then ironically crossing the same tracks) or (even more dangerous) walking or biking along the tracks to the adjacent entrances.

      Ironically (again) don’t stop too long to read the new sign when entering the park, because you have to stand along the tracks to read it.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson January 8, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Too bad there is not real transit on this rail line that would warrant caution in crossing the tracks. Its a valuable public asset. Maybe someday.

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    • rick January 9, 2018 at 9:32 am

      In 3056 A.D. ?

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  • John Peterson January 8, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Boltcutters

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  • Jack G. January 8, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    It’s funny, since PBOTs bike map for SW Portland clearly shows that as a suggested bike route.

    I think there should be a contest for funniest sign that gets put up on the fence.

    I’m thinking something like “Portland Parks and Rec welcomes you to Willamette Park.”

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  • q January 8, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    The fence didn’t go up today. I have photos of it from when it went up Friday.

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  • q January 8, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    This is brilliant. Obviously, nobody will do anything other than go around the fence, but Parks wants people to use the entrances to the north or south, so if people took Parks’ advice, the quickest way to the other entrances is to walk ALONG the tracks. So instead of walking or riding five feet across the tracks, people would be walking or riding for hundreds of yards along the tracks. And Parks thinks that’s more safe? Actually reality is irrelevant for Parks.

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  • q January 8, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    KATU reported on this today. Ironically, in reporting about the path being blocked, they parked directly on top of the sidewalk, with their cables strewn across it, from 3 PM until just a few minutes ago, with their headlights on aimed right into the eyes of people entering the path from Macadam–3 hours total. Earlier today, they tried to drive up the path, then backed out blindly.

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    • rick January 9, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Did KATU interview people traveling by?

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      • q January 9, 2018 at 1:51 pm

        Yes. They were there for hours.

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  • Buzz January 8, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    So if I’m following this correctly, ODOT, PPR and TriMet basically all have a shared and equal responsibility for this oh-so-Portlandia SNAFU??? LOL!!! Never would have expected it…

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    • Buzz January 9, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      …and now PPR is trying to point the finger at the Water Bureau???

      Wow, just Wow!!!!

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  • Evan January 8, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    This is baffling. Is there really just one panel of fence?

    Also, how in the world did someone at Parks think that a black single-panel fence across a path was acceptable in any circumstance?

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  • Kittens January 9, 2018 at 2:10 am

    Nothing that a pair of agile hands with a bolt cutter can’t fix.

    This is the kind of thing which makes me wonder, if indeed, government ISNT the solution… 🙁

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  • John Ginsburg January 9, 2018 at 8:15 am

    The water bureau pump project took YEARS to complete. It is amazing to think that this crossing couldn’t have been considered in the overall picture of the park work instead of an afterthought. The parks department could have purchased fewer “wire baskets of rocks” (bizarre decorations) at the entrances in case funding was an issue.

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  • Doug Klotz January 9, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Every agency involved has CYA’s. So now that the legal aspects are covered, everyone can ride around the one panel of fence and continue to use the crossing. I can imagine there are some safety volunteers in Portland who can help make it more visible so no-one crashes into it.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 9, 2018 at 9:10 am

    UPDATE IV: Here’s an image (from a reader who lives nearby) of the sign that was erected last night (1/8):

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    • rick January 9, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Another blunder of planning for the John’s Landing neighborhood.

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    • q January 9, 2018 at 10:42 am

      ODOT ordered that entrance closed in summer (when temporary barriers were first erected) and I’ve been pleading with Parks since September 8th to have enough respect and concern for park users to at least put up a sign explaining what’s going on. That sign took them almost six months to put up. And they put it on the fence, where to read it when entering the park, you have to stand where you’d get hit by a train.

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    • Mike Sanders January 9, 2018 at 6:57 pm

      So I was right. This is about installing gates, lights, and warning bells exactly according to federal regulations. Worth noting that Portland Parks installed the sign. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of Portland Parks to install that stuff, not Portland DOT. Wonder who ordered them to close it until the equipment is installed? Federal DOT, I’d guess.

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  • El Biciclero January 9, 2018 at 9:29 am

    So NOW the federal government cares about bicycle commuters? I would love to know the nature of the “improvements” that simply MUST be completed before this entrance path can be safely used.

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    • rick January 9, 2018 at 10:52 am

      Isn’t this related to the new water tank being built nearby? I think it has been under construction for a few years at the park.

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      • q January 9, 2018 at 11:52 am

        The Water Bureau recently completed its new pump station right there, but ODOT told me that the issue is that since Parks has had an entrance at Nevada for decades, it should have had a permit from long ago.

        My guess is that the reason ODOT noticed this summer is because they were inspecting the tracks along there then after the new tracks were put in south of Miles St. as part of the Sellwood Bridge project. When they were out there inspecting, I told them that the rail crossing signs at Nevada had been removed and left lying on the ground.

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  • q January 9, 2018 at 10:30 am

    I hate to even mention it, but a few days ago, there was a worker measuring the width of the new bike path (not the ramp to the fence, but the actual main path) about 50 yards south of the ramp. Another fence? I try not to think about it.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT January 9, 2018 at 10:56 am

    A couple things:

    1. Does a prescriptive easement come into play here? Seems that allowing this entrance to be used for a long period of time might trigger something like this.

    2. Given that they’ve erected something that only really blocks the paved trail, yet allows most people to easily walk and ride around it, this might be seen as an ADA violation. It pretty much denies access only to people in wheelchairs. It could be argued that in practice, it’s targeting them.

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    • q January 9, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      I agree about the ADA aspect. Parks doesn’t do well with ADA rules. You may have noticed they built that new asphalt ramp up to the entrance last year, then tore it out because it was too steep for ADA compliance, then rebuilt it, then put up ADA-required handrails, but then came in and voided the ADA compliance by putting anti-skateboard donuts that make it impossible for the people most needing the handrail to grasp it.

      Parks also forgot to put tactile warnings (yellow dots) at the top of the ramp, so blind people don’t know they’re going from a pedestrian path onto railroad tracks and then into the street. They also did a poor job with the tactile warnings on nearby ramps into the parking lot driveway, and they created dangerous drop-offs at the crosswalk so any blind person (or anyone walking when there are leaves on the ground) can break their ankles stepping off the curb at the crosswalk at the bottom of the new ramp. They also left tactile warnings off the trail all the way to the Sellwood Bridge, then argued with me before finally putting those in. They also blocked river views nearby for people in wheelchairs who used to use the path regularly. I could go on, and that’s just direct ADA code violations in one small area of new construction.

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      • TonyT
        TonyT January 10, 2018 at 7:09 am

        Oh yeah. It took me repeated emails to Portland Parks, the last one with a not-so-veiled threat of an ADA lawsuit, to get them to remove the bollards that were at the 2 main pedestrian entrances to Creston Park. They created a nearly impossible obstacle to people in wheelchairs for no real reason other than Park’s knee-jerk reaction to seemingly always need to control people who walk, roll, or ride bikes. No such passage control existed at the park’s parking lot entrance or the ped entrances from the parking lot to the park. Only people using the neighborhood ped entrances had to contend with their hostile nonsense.

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  • Bret January 9, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Money is more readily available for CYA lawsuit prevention than for useful infrastructure

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    • Dan A January 9, 2018 at 1:49 pm

      I wonder what kind of CYA protection a laminated piece of paper will get you when someone crashes into this black fence?

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  • q January 10, 2018 at 11:10 am

    The fence is gone now. I just talked to a Parks employee who was gathering up the chain link. He said someone cut all the bolts last night and took it down. He was sent by supervisors to weld it back up, but isn’t going to yet, as chances are it would just be cut away. So right now, the posts and cones are there but no fence.

    When I saw him, I was thrilled to see the the fence gone, thinking FINALLY there’s some common sense being shown, and maybe all the government entities realized they should just keep the trolley from running until this is solved. But no, the answer was someone else took the fence down, and Parks sent someone down to strengthen it.

    In Parks’ defense, I think their idea may have been to do a token fence to satisfy ODOT, knowing people could easily walk around it. But they used a dangerous black fence, they wouldn’t address this whole thing for months, wouldn’t tell the public what was going on, and for some reason nobody is stopping the trolley. So here we are.

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  • q January 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Now the City has sent someone down to look at the fence, but instead of parking and looking, they drove their car around the bollards and over the curb onto the sidewalk and Greenway Trail, and drove a couple hundred yards around the trail loop, in the process forcing a guy walking his dog and a bike off the trail, then left without bothering to get out of his car and walk a few yards to actually see the fence area other than through his windshield! It seemed clear he never saw the bike swerve around him. He saw the guy with the dog but didn’t even bother moving his car by a foot or two so the guy could stay on the path.

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  • Scott Mizée January 30, 2018 at 11:46 am

    So, what’s the latest on this? Any updates for us, q?

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  • q January 30, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Nothing new, really, since I wrote (on the other article about this) that someone had made several chalk marks several days ago–“x”s every several feet down the middle of the ramp, and tick marks every 3′ or so at the edge of the asphalt on both sides of the ramp, and on the edge of the trail at the bottom of the ramp.

    There are still several cones and a couple “sidewalk closed” signs that move around. There’s no way anyone would know that this has anything to do with crossing the tracks. The only thing the signs accomplish is to block the better part of the sidewalk to Macadam, so people have to walk or bike around it in the adjacent street and gravel. The black posts from the infamous fence are still there, the center one marked by cones so people don’t run into it.

    Parks and sometimes Water Bureau trucks still regularly park in the “no parking” zone in front of the pump station, sometimes on the sidewalk there, and sometimes with their headlights left on and their doors swung open over the sidewalk, so people riding or walking on the trail, and people driving to the picnic shelter parking lot, can’t see one another and have to maneuver around the trucks into one another’s paths.

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