Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Business owner uses attorney and electeds to fight TriMet’s Gideon Overcrossing project

Posted by on December 20th, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Early TriMet rendering of Gideon Overcrossing.

Neighborhood transportation advocates in southeast Portland are sounding the alarm about TriMet’s Gideon Overcrossing project. They say opposition from an adjacent business owner could shelve the project.

“It’s unfair to me. What it’s doing to my business would require me to move.”
— Michael Koerner, Koerner Camera

Michael Koerner, owner of Koerner Camera Systems on SE 14th and Taggart, hired a lawyer who sent a letter (PDF) to the regional head of the Federal Transit Administration on December 14th. The letter includes sharp criticisms of TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation, questions the need of a bridge, and asks the FTA to require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement before moving forward.

As we reported last June, this project would build a new crossing of the Orange Line MAX light rail and Union Pacific Railroad tracks near the busy Clinton Street transit station. It would be a much-needed replacement to the crossing at SE 16th and Brooklyn Street TriMet demolished during Orange Line construction in 2013.

The new bridge would go from SE 13th on the south side of the tracks to SE 14th on the north. In March 2018, TriMet said that location was “an attractive option for commuters” due to its proximity to the existing light rail station at Clinton St (which would be about 300 feet west of the new overcrossing). The location was also chosen to, “best link to the Powell pedestrian crossing serving the Brooklyn neighborhood to Hosford-Abernethy.”

TriMet plan drawing. (Koerner’s business is where the words “North Elevator Structure” appear in the upper middle).

TriMet began the design process this past spring and the new, $14 million bridge was supposed to start construction in the next few months.

14th Avenue looking south where the new elevator and stairway would land with Koerner Camera on the left.

But Michael Koerner doesn’t want the bridge on 14th Avenue. His camera rental business that supplies high-end equipment to the film and TV industry is directly adjacent to the tracks. As designed, the bridge needs to use existing public right-of-way currently used to access Koerner’s parking lot and loading zone. Koerner said his concerns about safety and business impacts have fallen on deaf ears at TriMet so he hired a land-use attorney to fight the project.

In a phone call this morning Koerner told me he doesn’t oppose the bridge project, he just doesn’t want it on 14th Avenue. In addition to his concerns that mixing trucks and forklifts with bicycle riders and walkers would be a safety hazard, Koerner said, “It’s unfair to me. What it’s doing to my business would require me to move.” Koerner isn’t the only business owner opposed to the project. Several others share his concerns and are actively engaged against it.

Koerner’s attorney Jennifer Bragar from the law firm of Tomasi Salyer Martin, wrote a letter on December 14th to the regional head of the FTA. In the letter she requests a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and poke holes in the plan and the integrity of TriMet and the City of Portland.

“I am respectfully asking that you consider moving the bridge to a different location either up further on 16th St. or even consider 8th or 9th instead.”
— Rob Nosse, Oregon House Representative

Koerner also has support from Oregon House Representative Rob Nosse. In a letter dated December 10th and addressed to PBOT Director Chris Warner and TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey, Nosse wrote that after talking with Koerner and other business owners on 14th Street, “I am respectfully asking that you consider moving the bridge to a different location either up further on 16th St. or even consider 8th or 9th instead.”

“I don’t think your planning is so far along that you could not consider an alternative,” Rep. Nosse continued, “And I think this would be an appropriate compromise.” According to Rep. Nosse, the planned alignment would make it difficult for these businesses to operate forklifts and access loading zones with large trucks. The alignment would also, “Potentially harm these very commuters your agencies are attempting to serve,” Rep. Nosse wrote.

“TriMet and the City of Portland have determined that the project cannot be built on another street.”
— Roberta Altstadt, TriMet

In her letter, Koerner’s lawyer Jennifer Bragar says an SEIS done in compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) review process is required because TriMet and PBOT want to locate the new bridge at a different location than the old one. “The FEIS did not suggest that the bridge would be replaced in a location that differed from its original siting at SE 16th and Gideon,” Bragar wrote, “nor that it would accommodate bicyclists as well as pedestrians.” She adds that while biking and walking projects are typically excluded from the EIS process, one is still needed because, “The proposed bridge will significantly affect the quality of the human environment by altering the physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment.”

Bragar also claims her client hasn’t been given adequate time to comment on the proposal. Furthermore, Bragar questions the necessity of the bridge altogether. Even if one is needed, she says her client wants it to go somewhere else. Here’s an excerpt from Bragar’s letter:

“… both Tri-Met and PBOT have failed to provide evidence that the proposal is actually necessary for pedestrians or bicyclists. Neither agency has provided evidence of accidents or injury to either pedestrians or bicyclists at this railroad crossing nor have they provided evidence that the proposed bridge will be useful to bicyclists or pedestrians. If Tri-Met and PBOT believe a pedestrian and bicycle bridge is necessary, the Gideon Overcrossing should be placed in a location that will result in greatest utility for pedestrians and bicyclists – specifically in the location of the previous access bridge at SE 16th and Gideon which supports connectivity between neighborhoods, or other alternative locations that have yet to be examined in an EIS.”

(Graphic: TriMet)

While Rep. Nosse and Michael Koerner want the bridge moved to a different location (and Koerner said he’s also got support from Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and several other business owners in the area), TriMet Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt told us this morning that’s just not possible. “TriMet and the City of Portland have determined that the project cannot be built on another street,” she wrote in an email. “However, the city and TriMet continue to look for ways to minimized or mitigate the impact on local businesses.”

Altstadt said the bridge can’t be built at any other location because the FTA funding is tied directly to safety issues at SE 11th and 12th, where long UPRR delays cause some people to cross unsafely and even to walk across stopped train cars. According to Altstadt, FTA guidelines stipulate that a bike/walk bridge must be located close enough to the original location of the safety hazard to “provide a convenient alternative.”Placing the bridge at 16th would not address the safety issue that is the basis for the FTA funding. The bridge at 16th would simply be too far away and require too much out of direction travel – particularly for pedestrians — to be a viable alternative,” Altstadt explained.

Altstadt says TriMet and the City of Portland analyzed several other locations and for various reasons, none of them could accommodate a bridge because there was either not enough room for the structure or the project would require condemnation of entire businesses.

While TriMet sounds resolute, neighborhood advocates are worried Koerner’s opposition could put the entire project in jeopardy.

Brooklyn resident John Karabaic posted his concerns on a local email list as a “call to action” to “save the bridge”. “There is a vocal business owner on the north side of the bridge who stands to lose about 11 feet of driveway space that’s currently in the public right-of-way,” Karabaic wrote, “While that may be inconvenient for them, I believe the benefits of this location far outweigh the slight inconvenience this business owner would incur.”

Karabaic said putting the bridge further east at 16th would make it about one-quarter mile from the 11th/12th crossing. “This is a long distance for someone who has trouble walking or is in a wheelchair,” he wrote. “It could make the difference in missing a bus or train.” Karabaic feels the proposed alignment is ideal because it lines up with an existing crossing of SE Powell Blvd used by a lot of people on bikes and on foot.

Drawing from Koerner’s attorney showing layout of proposed bridge and access to his property.

As for safety concerns, Karabaic says that claim is unfounded. He cites the nearby Rhine-Lafayette overpass and streets in the Central Eastside Industrial District — both of which interface with industrial businesses while posing no major safety hazards (at least statistically and in terms of popularity) to vulnerable road users.

Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood District (HAND) Chair Christopher Eykamp says he agrees with some of Koerner’s safety concerns. In an email this morning, Eykamp told us he’s drafting a letter from HAND to TriMet asking for help to mitigate potential hazards. “The truth is that no one really knows how much of a [safety] factor this will be in practice, and it is possible that if the danger is real, businesses will have to change their practices accordingly.”

Eykamp feels the well-documented safety costs of not building the bridge should be weighed against the potential costs to businesses: “And I really don’t see much of a contest.”

For his part, Koerner said he’s already invested about $30,000 fighting the project. His anger with TriMet over how the process has unfolded is palpable. He feels the agency is “ramming this down our throats.” “We’re screaming from the trees and they’re not listening,” he shared on the phone this morning. “They’ve deceived us on more than one occasion and I find this all ridiculous and self-serving. They had no intention of ever working with us.”

Eykamp acknowledges TriMet’s public process and other missteps around the Orange Line project have caused frustration among many in the neighborhood, but given the choices available, he feels the bridge should be built as planned. “I strongly support moving forward with the project, and I believe a majority of the HAND board does as well.”

UPDATE, 12/21: Don’t miss the latest post on this story with response from TriMet and PBOT.

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

308
Leave a Reply

avatar
68 Comment threads
240 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
76 Comment authors
Hello, Kitty-E-TamraLanceX Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I guess he should have stayed in his old location between Williams and Vancouver in North Portland, instead of moving in to a new place at one end of a much needed pedestrian/bike overpass. This dude should have done his homework, boo hoo.

JJJ
Guest
JJJ

A grade crossing would save $13m and make everyone happy.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Can’t be surprised with how this is unfolding… this isn’t the first time or the last. Let’s all demonize the business owner next so that we can get our way. Let’s not forget that he probably has to contend with diverters, road diets, and one ways that weren’t there when he started and now they’re asking to take away his parking and loading zone. Sounds pitty, especially knowing how many people it took to come to this “project.”

I'll Show Up
Guest
I'll Show Up

Rob Nosse: Pro-CRC, anti-bike bridge, represents inner-southeast in the legislature. Something doesn’t seem to match here.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

The NIMBY tears….

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

I am always aware of being the naysayer that continually leads with “We don’t need this, we need that!”…

But in this case, there are so many better ways to spend however millions of dollars. The bridge a bit further south at Lafayette totally makes sense, since there are so few other rail crossing options (really nothing between the very poor options at Powell and Holgate). And I use that one almost every single day while commuting (errr, besides when it being repaired…).

But why here? Unless I am totally missing something, people are getting by quite fine via using SE 12th. I really don’t see the use case for this one.

Greg Haun
Guest
Greg Haun

Jonathan, you refer to the previous Gideon bridge as an “old wooden footbridge” and Jennifer Bragar suggests it was pedestrian-only. In fact, it was a modern concrete multi-use bridge complete with dual bike trenches. See my photo https://photos.app.goo.gl/X61eizomHwB7dxxn9 and google street view: https://goo.gl/maps/U61qfMR2PkE2

It was the old bridge at Lafayette that was a disaster. The Gideon bridge was useful.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

This guy sounds like the office furniture guy who didn’t want Wheeler made one way ( to prevent the frequent left hooks at Broadway and Wheeler) because if his trucks had to drive around the block to get back to the warehouse it would put him out of business, ( or so he said).

MantraPDX
Guest
MantraPDX

SilkySlim
I am always aware of being the naysayer that continually leads with “We don’t need this, we need that!”…But in this case, there are so many better ways to spend however millions of dollars. The bridge a bit further south at Lafayette totally makes sense, since there are so few other rail crossing options (really nothing between the very poor options at Powell and Holgate). And I use that one almost every single day while commuting (errr, besides when it being repaired…).But why here? Unless I am totally missing something, people are getting by quite fine via using SE 12th. I really don’t see the use case for this one.Recommended 0

Seems like once a week UP parks a train over 12th around rush hour. Every time I see multiple people carry their bikes over the parked train. Stupid behavior, yes, but I’ve yet to wait long enough to see the train to move again so I can sort of understand. Those of use that aren’t willing to risk jumping the train end up going a mile out of our way to take the nearest ped bridge just to connect back to Clinton a few blocks up from where the train is stopped. This also obviously affects people in cars at this intersection as well. I’m guessing the bulk of the concern is the liability for what could happen when jumping the train is common behavior and that the bridge further down is too far away to be an efficient alternative route for a pedestrian.

JP Perry
Guest

I’m a longtime reader and fan of this blog, and a customer of Koerner Camera. I think Michael is right.

It appears this project in it’s current design would block access to his loading dock, which absolutely would make his small business unworkable. Camera trucks need to back up to the dock since professional camera gear is very heavy and cumbersome. The trucks then go off and shoot movies, TV shows, and commercials (employing lots of Portlanders, myself included) then they come back to unload.

If Koerner Camera were forced to move it would be an injustice since they just invested a fortune building out that space — building not just a great rental house but a camera museum and community space for industry meet ups, too.

I also live in the area and would benefit from this crossing (those freight trains suck) but there has got to be a better solution that doesn’t screw people over.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

We need an overpass here. Why not put it directly over the top of the Max Station? City/Tri-met needs to eminent domain the Mason’s Supply Building already (Both of them on both sides of 12th) and use that land to build this bridge and create a truly Platinum level street plaza that improves mobility for all users – bikes, peds, vehicles. Might even help out the Super-Bus they are going to be running down Division.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

I’m rather skeptical of Mr. Koerner’s concerns. The gist of those concerns seem to be difficulty in large trucks accessing his loading ramp, and safety concerns in doing so.

He rents digital cinema-quality video cameras. As to access: Does he seriously use a semi-truck to haul those? That seems unfathomable. As to safety: How may trucks a day does he have? That’s a rather niche market.

Steve Smith
Guest
Steve Smith

Nosse’s intervention is regrettable and seems uninformed. I don’t think it’s that easy to place a bridge/elevator at 8th or 9th. Hopefully he does his homework better when he’s legislating. I wonder if he even talked to anybody at the city or at trimet. My guess: he didn’t. Care to weigh in Representative Nosse?

ridepdx
Guest
ridepdx

I hope Michael Koerner gets Trimet to stop this project. It is a terrible design for people commuting by bike. I would say over half of cyclists that could use the Lafayette Street Bridge choose not to. This project is a waste of money. I would propose making the underpass on Powell better or building a ramp somewhere.

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

Why wasn’t the Orange Line built as an elevated line in the first place? Seems like that could have solved the need for an overcrossing at this location and would have simplified the intersections as it would eliminate the need for at-grade crossings for the MAX train.

rick
Guest
rick

A city without a backbone. Amazing to see non “industrial” businesses oppose a safety project like this.

MantraPDX
Guest
MantraPDX

John Lascurettes
You won’t mind if I pronounce your name “Doug Heckler” will you?Recommended 3

LOL! After reading several of his posts on FB, BP, and elsewhere I started doing this in my head every time his name pops up. Had to block him on FB since it seemed like I couldn’t read a single post from the City or about cycling where he wasn’t dragging the conversation into the mud.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

If they build it at current proposed location, this business owner can do what the business owners at the corner of 18th and SE Haig (which is the western ride-up to the Rhine / Lafayette st bridge of the same design/purpose) does, which is to occupy this dead-end street for their own purposes, including parking all kinds of cars here which sometimes block the street to cyclists.

Hopefully, if they do put this bridge in, the city puts up some good “no parking” signs to keep the area clear for safe passage of bikers. 18th and Haig street could seriously use some help, including better lighting.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

I pushed SE Uplift Board of Directors executive committee to endorse the 14th location yesterday. The official letter will go out by Monday. There is no other viable spot for it unless we buy out Mason building supply.

Everyone says “I’m not opposed, just not near me.” We are growing very fast as a city, everyone including businesses need to adapt. The safety needs of everyone using that corridor vastly outweigh the individual impacts.

Terry Dublinski-Milton SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Pretty sure that I crossed the old bridge with my bike a number of times. It has been awhile and I think i might have had to carry it but it worked fine so I dont feel like it is reasonable to demand an environmental study because the new bridge also allows bikes to cross.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Also this seems like an example of why we should not allow the old could thing to be removed until the new better thing is built because the City is starting to have a bit of a track record on broken promises when it comes to getting the new thing built.

Tamra
Guest

Michael Koerner is by no means the only business that is frustrated with the way this project is being handled and have serious concerns about the safety of the people who will be using this bridge. I represent one of the businesses on 14th and we have semi-trucks that come and go throughout the day as do the rest of the businesses on the street. At any given time, there could be four or five trucks and forklifts coming and going on 14th. I learned about the bridge from the other businesses and neighbors, not by the agencies involved.

I attended a meeting where we, neighbors and businesses, voiced our concerns and what we were repeatedly told was that people were jumping the freight trains and it was unsafe. The freight trains have not changed due to the MAX Orange Line. The only thing that has changed is the bridge was taken down that allowed pedestrians and bikes to cross over the trains on to 16th. Why has it become inconceivable to put back the bridge that was working before? Why put the public in harm’s way? This bridge has no effect on our business financially, it maybe even good for our business, but for concern for the safety of the public it is simply a foolish idea to make decisions without the input of those who actually know how the street is used on a day to day basis. I asked for the traffic studies that were done on 14th and found out that in fact none were done. Since then, a counter strip was placed outside of our driveway for one day, one day the week before Christmas, that is not an accurate study of traffic that comes and goes from our business.

The bottom line is the agencies involved pushed ahead without regard for public safety and without input from those it will most impact.

JR
Guest
JR

$30k on a land use attorney that can’t even get the facts straight?
“The FEIS did not suggest that the bridge would be replaced in a location that differed from its original siting at SE 16th and Gideon,” Bragar wrote.

Yet, just by doing a search on a PDF at TriMet’s website (http://trimet.org/pdfs/pm/FEIS/FEIS_Vol1_Chapters.pdf ), I was able to find that’s completely false. The FEIS (page 2-12 to 2-13) states:
“In addition, a pedestrian overcrossing of the UPRR tracks currently located west of SE 16th Avenue and SE Brooklyn Street would be removed. A new pedestrian overcrossing that would
include ramps meeting ADA requirements would be constructed from SE 14th Avenue over the UPRR to the Clinton Station.”

Liz
Guest
Liz

Film producer here who uses Koerner Camera on a daily basis.

Let me start by saying the cameras are not little things that you just carry out into a car. A camera package for filming is quite large and heavy, and you are not considering all of the accessories needed which all come in large heavy cases to protect the delicate equipment. we use large 28′ trucks to haul just our camera equipment around. Koerner serves our entire industry. He is the only major camera house in Portland. I can tell you this will disrupt and entire industry in the city which pumps a lot of dollars into the economy.

As for safety, large trucks are needed to haul all of the equipment. There is barely enough room now as is. Can you imagine a busy bike and pedestrian path though a tiny lot where large trucks are moving in and out of all day? That is asking for accidents. Don’t we want to be safe and fair and improve our communities in a meaningful way for all?

Emily Fincher
Guest
Emily Fincher

I am familiar with this business. The proposed plan would make koerner camera’s needed operations patently impossible to sustain. And my view of the pedestrian & bike traffic paths meeting substantial truck traffic appears perilous to say the least.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Any word on who pays for the proposed loading dock extension (shown in the final rendering in the article)? Is that covered by project funds?

mjc
Guest

Bikes, pedestrians and industrial usage can coexist, but thoughtful execution is super necessary. Who knows better about the ebb and flow of it all then businesses right there? Advocacy is key. I believe that everyone has to come to the table to talk about it and plan. Neither side wants to have a decision made for them. Safe routes for bikes and pedestrians are critical, but we have to do it in a way that honors and respects the small businesses that keep Portland alive.

Robin H
Guest
Robin H

I agree with Koerner, sounds like a hazard with heavy equipment and pedestrians in same area: an accident waiting to happen. Would be wise for the City to change bridge location.

Emily
Guest
Emily

I appreciate this reporting and the way in which this article has opened up discussion for the public.

I am a Portland based Producer and have been a customer of Koerner Camera for years. Koerner Camera is the only place I can go to get the equipment I need in order to do my job. Without Koerner, I don’t film in Portland. It is that important of a place, and what they are able to supply us brings massive amounts of revenue into Portland. It is not a selfish or greedy operation but rather a place that pours back into the community. There is no debating the fact that this bridge would force Koerner out of this building- which is also the home to OMPA- a non profit that supports the Portland production industry and where Michael Koerner sits on the board.

Within Koerner’s walls lives decades worth of history and also a bright future ahead for an industry that is growing rapidly in this city. Koerner is literally our lifeline.

I have never voted “no” on a bond measure. I am 110% all in for paying tax dollars to support expanding infrastructure projects like this and am in no way defaming the intent here. However, it is clear that the location for this bridge does not work. It is as simple as that. I don’t think it is anyone’s fault – how could anyone have known the impact this would have had without having investigated the business activities that this bridge would funnel people into? But now it’s been clearly communicated that this would be a seriously dangerous location to dump pedestrians and bicyclists with the constant flow of large trucks flowing in and out of Koerner.

I am hopeful that the people who see the importance of this project, and have worked so hard up until this point to bring it to life, will also see the importance of adjusting it so that it does not have such a massive negative impact on our community (and doesn’t put people into harm’s way). I am a firm believer that an artist never makes mistakes and that there is a way for there to be an engineered solution that will be a win for everyone in this – let’s fight for a plan that doesn’t drastically impact businesses and doesn’t put people into a dangerous situation! There must be a solution that, using the momentum that’s behind this project, is better for everyone involved.

Philip Anderson
Guest

This road is constantly full of large vehicles ranging from forklifts to semi trucks. Putting a pedestrian bridge on this road is not only destructive of the local businesses, it is dangerous. I personally drive a large truck to Koerner Camera as that is what is required to move camera packages to and from jobs. A pedestrian bridge in this location will damage successful businesses and endanger pedestrians.

Tamra
Guest

I am not just coming at this situation from emotion or someone who has anything to gain one way or another. I am coming from this as someone with a MA in CRP. The freight trains have been crossing there for decades. The Brooklyn train yard has been there since the 1860s. This issue is not about trains, nothing has changed with the addition of the MAX line except the removal of the old bridge. The rezoning of the site opposite of the proposed bridge plays a large role in all of this that is not being brought to the table.

N-1
Guest
N-1

No doubt this overpass will affect the community. In the future, this community may look different, different businesses, different people and different needs. I suspect after technology evolves self driving trucks, even lighter and smaller equipment, the safety issues will be not be as relevant as they are today. However, the same is true if the trains cease stopping for long periods of time in that area. It’s hard to imagine the future. But let’s get there together.

Pat Franz
Guest
Pat Franz

Seems like with some creativity and a few more $, it could even be done at 12th, where it more naturally wants to be.

What is the actual $ limitation? I’m sure it’s complex, but if it’s preventing something reasonable from being done, it’s time to look real hard at that.

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

It looks like the best option would be for Trimet to negotiate a purchase of the southern triangular tip of K&F’s parking lot (where the container is). It looks like the whole bridge landing and elevator would fit in that triangle, leaving access to the K&F driveway where it is. This would leave the street end the same as it is now, except for an entrance to the bridge/elevator, adjoining the existing west sidewalk (which might have to be extended 15′ south or so along it’s path). I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned. This plan would leave Koerner’s access the same as it is now, and wouldn’t effect K&F’s operations, except for the loss of that parked container.

SD
Guest
SD

As an aside… elevator based bike infra sucks.

jpm
Guest
jpm

doug klotz makes a good point. if k&f was willing to sell that small triangle of gravel, the tower could land there – and allow the existing access to all businesses.
seems like a logical next step.
this is already a busy street. if the north tower is placed as planned, it would likely cause a ripple effect of vehicles double and triple parking up se taggart and past se clinton. in my opinion, thats when things get most dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.
the biggest fail is pbot, trimet, and the city forcing this through with little input from the people and businesses that support them.

CZ
Guest
CZ

I am part of a car-free family in the Brooklyn neighborhood and can attest to the need for this bridge when trains come through and sometimes stop. I think it’s unlikely that it will be used regularly otherwise.

As someone who regularly goes through 12th, listening and watching for trains has become a part of my life. If I even hear a distant train whistle I turn around and head to another (inconvient) crossing. That is on my bike. If I’m on foot, I may start running, often pushing a stroller, hoping to beat the train. That is because I’ve been stopped far too many times, for far too long. And the current alternates (namely the Powell underpass) are too far to walk.

I’m familiar with how to find other ways to cross, but not everyone is. I often see tons of cyclists and pedestrians waiting for the train to pass. It can be 20 minutes to an hour. Worse I often see people crossing unsafely between stopped cars, as was mentioned in the article. Having a nearby and visible bridge is essential for people to use it (also the funding thing).

Having this crossing will also really help connect the Brooklyn neighborhood. It is largely cut off from other neighborhoods by the train tracks and river. 13th is frequnently used by bikes and pedestrians to cross Powell so this spot connects well.

As for the owner’s concerns, I certainly feel for small business owners, but am having a hard time understanding how one business can lay claim to a Public Right of Way and stop a project that will benefit so many more people and the community. As for safety concerns they seem
overblown. Bikes and large trucks and forklifts coexist at many locations already. Especially thoughout east side industrial areas. And most of the commenters were talking about heavy traffic during business hours. I’m guessing most bike/ped traffic will be during commuting hours and on weekends. And only on the occasion that there is a train. So not regularly. I ride with a three year old and am very safety conscious but am not concerned about this. Trucks on a dead end, neighborhood street should not be moving fast.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

That blue truck in the attorney sketch looks like the largest permissible US truck, WB-67. The backing maneuver shown is typically not allowed in the public rights of way. I also doubt a truck that size could get into the position it is shown, considering the current width of the streets and current on-street parking.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Knowing first-hand how crazy it can get down there with multiple businesses utilizing massive box trucks, including Koerner – plus multiple fork lifts all between Clinton and the train tracks – it seems like this will be a safety issue. Maneuvering and parking at Koerner (or anywhere on that street) can already be difficult as it is – adding pedestrians and cyclists to that equation is asking for a disaster to happen. The street simply will not be safe for those it’s supposed to serve – nor will it be safe for the businesses and the people who have to frequent those businesses everyday. Plus, we’re not talking about 1 vehicle a day being here. That parking lot gets filled as it is, as does the street parking surrounding.

Koerner may be the face of the opposition, as this article doesn’t mention the other businesses opposed and being directly affected – but so many people seem to imply that only Koerner himself will be affected within Portland’s Film Industry. This is far from the truth. I’ve worked as a Commercial Camera Assistant for the past 8 years in Portland. This will not only affect Koerner, this will affect his employees, Cinematographers, Camera Operators, Camera Assistants, Producers, Students and so many others who utilize Koerner every day, both local and out-of-towners (who tend to hire local crew, adding more to our economy). This will directly affect my job. I’m a freelancer, this is the economy we live in and Koerner has been nothing but a beacon of support for the industry as a whole. There are a lot of reasons why Netflix, Hulu, the CW, IFC, ABC and more are coming here to shoot their shows and films. A big part of it has to do with Koerner and the equipment he supplies. Koerner is on-par with LA houses, and in my experience, better than any NYC rental house I’ve used on travel jobs. Simply put, he helps put Portland on the Film Map – and we’re getting busier and busier.

Those stating digital cameras are small and we don’t need vehicles for the equipment clearly don’t understand what a camera rental order looks like. Also, we DO get tripods and carts from Koerner, not Gearhead or PG&L, as someone so wrongly stated. I tend to leave with smaller packages than most, and even then, I can barely fit them in my vehicle sometimes (a Compact SUV). There is no chance a Cargo Bike is hauling an Alexa LF body case with Ronford Standard Sticks, Baby Sticks, O’Connor Head (because these cameras can push 20-30+ lbs – fully built Alexa LF is around 35 with Signature Primes), Multiple lens cases, batteries, 17″ monitors or bigger, plus a Camera Cart. This still doesn’t even include my tools. Not a chance in hell, and this is for a small commercial. You also would not just toss them in unprotected. This is over $100,000 worth of gear. Even if you downsize the camera to an Alexa Mini, probably the smallest and most frequently rented camera coming out of there, you still wouldn’t be able to do all of this on a cargo bike. It’s just not feasible.

None of this is to say the project shouldn’t happen – it just seems like 14th is the worst street they could have picked. 12th and 16th seem like much better options (especially 12th). Being able to park across the tracks on days I don’t need equipment would honestly be great. Parking over there is already hard, but this just doesn’t seem like the way to go. Any reason why the city wouldn’t fund it if it was built on 12th?

Jerry Bell
Guest
Jerry Bell

You have to appreciate the research completed surrounding this project primarily focusing on the needs for bikers and pedestrians. However, our small business owners and residents should be taken care of too. I’m sure Koerner camera isn’t the only business or resident on the other end of this overpass that has concerns. Not everyone has the means or resources to pay for legal representation to take on TriMet or the City. With the same due diligence used to provide alternatives for pedestrians and bikers, TriMet needs to research options, provide proposals and offer assistance to existing businesses and residents being affected.

John Dovydenas
Guest

I operate a winery on 14th and Clinton, and own the building, and this project has just come to my attention. My loading dock is on 14th. This street is totally inappropriate for this pedestrian bridge. 14th is nothing but loading docks and loading bays, with tons of forklift activity in the street all day. Does the city wish to gentrify this street and turn it into storefronts and condos? Or is it just a bad location for a pedestrian bridge? Seeing how lazy PBOT has gotten with it’s designs, I assume the latter.

The Orange line was built on the cheap, and the inconvenience to car, bike and pedestrian traffic at 12th and 11th is the result of not building a bridge where there should be a bridge. The inconvenience to cars is seen as a positive, but what of PBOT’s concern for bikes and pedestrians? Well, the Gideon Overcrossing doesn’t serve bikes. Why would they build a $14m bridge with an elevator and not add a simple bike ramp? Pedestrians are going to be routed into a confusing and dangerous situation with this location. The bridge is far from the transit station, far from transfer points to busses, where they will have to walk all the way back to either Division and 14th or 11th.

Koerner I think hits the nail on the head with this project. It’s leftover money in search of a need, with location being determined by a developer instead of what is most useful for the users, which would be a bridge for all forms of traffic on 11th and 12th. Or failing that, a pedestrian and bike bridge on 12th, which will directly access the Light Rail and connecting transit points.

Matt M
Guest
Matt M

Matt M. You have made several inappropriate comments and have crossed far over the line into normalizing violence. Sheesh. I’ve put you on the blacklist and no more of your comments will appear.

tamra
Guest
tamra

I just walked from 14th over to the Ford Building on 11th for a meeting. 12th really seems to be the location for the bridge. Has anyone looked into the location of old church on the corner of 12th and Clinton and the cost of that location? This is not an US against THEM. As I mentioned, most of our employees bike to and from work and I hate to admit that some may have even jumped the train a time or two. All of us have been caught behind those trains. We all want everyone to be free to move freely and safely around the city where we live and work.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

He’s complaining because it won’t be easy to maneuver a 75′ long truck on a narrow dead end road in the inner city. That truck shouldn’t be there. This is a dense city that shouldn’t be allowing, or catering to, large cargo vehicles except for building special projects. Just because this was an industrial area 100 years ago when trucks were 30′ long doesn’t mean you get to keep doing business as usual when the city is twice as dense and the trucks are twice as long. If he needs huge delivery trucks at his business then he picked the wrong location. This project just brought to light what was already obvious.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

They’re doing a poor job with the location trying to cram it onto already tight streets. There’s really no room on 14th for the base. They should buy that building if they want to put it there. And the landing on the other side is really tight as well.

For a proper crossing they need to buy a building on the north and then widen the street on the south by buying up one of those buildings. Then they’d have room for a proper corkscrew ramp, which they seem to be leaving out of all the new bridge designs, ADA be damned.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

I am reposting these comments from yesterday as they “disappeared”:
Can all parties step back and rethink the design of this project…I would hope that one of the adjoining property owners would see the commercial benefit of integrating this over crossing into a multi-storey building with retail facing the raised walkway…imagine the hundreds (and in the future thousands) of potential customers walking by each day. This could also move the landing point away from the driveway area and potentially allow for a more gradual walkway ramp spread over a block…

Pat Franz
Guest
Pat Franz

Seems to me you could put all the north end infrastructure, including a long ramp, in the little used parking spots on the south side of Clinton at 12th. Go up and over the Masons Supply driveway, across the tracks, and put the other tower and ramp where the rusty rails artwork is now.

If I ran the zoo, I’d extend the bridge west and come down west of 11th. Oh, look! there’s plenty of room there too!

I posit that we now have enough experience with how people really want to move through this crazy intersection, and a combo bridge with three elevator/stairs/ramp towers is the only thing that reasonably deals with the issues.

There are so many pedestrian and biking dangers with the present lashup that something comprehensive needs to be done. Piecemeal solutions blocks away are a waste of lives and money.

Chris Lawson
Guest

I’m not only a cyclist, but a longtime customer of Koerner Camera. Both Michael and the OMPA are crucial cornerstones to the film and commercial community here in Oregon.
In addition to supplying cameras and accessories, Koerner helps secure specialized camera packages from other suppliers. It’s not uncommon to have large orders shipped there for prep.
Recently, I had 3 pallets of gear brought in via semi truck to prep a national car commercial. We needed a forklift and the loading dock to unload, prep and reload into another local box truck. This Chicago production company chose Portland for its reputation for having stellar crew and production support. Afterwards, they raved about Koerner and his accommodations.
I know this isn’t a solution. I just hope this access won’t change. Many of us rely on the employment and tax revenue these productions bring into Portland.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

While the guy is a real treat to deal with, he is right. It’s ridiculous that Trimet is trying to build a stair/elevator nightmare as if it’s 1925. They need to build it at 16th and use ramps.