“We disagree that a Supplemental EIS is needed.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT
TriMet and the City of Portland are refuting one of the central arguments being made by a business owner who wants to derail the Gideon Overcrossing project.
As we reported yesterday, several businesses on SE 14th are very concerned that the proposed bridge and elevators over light rail and Union Pacific Railroad tracks near Clinton Street Station will have a major negative impact on their ability to unload trucks and access loading zones and parking lots.
As designed, the structure that would land on SE 14th would use only existing public right-of-way, but it would constrain space currently used by truck operators to access businesses. There are also fears that what some consider a heavily industrial street will be too dangerous for the added volume of walkers and bikers that will use the new bridge.
One of those business owners, Michael Koerner of Koerner Camera Systems, is so upset with TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation over how they’ve rolled out the project, he hired a land-use attorney to fight it. Koerner has several beefs with the project and the agencies behind it; but the central argument — as laid out in a letter from his lawyer to the regional head of the Federal Transit Administration — is that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) must be completed for the project. This federally regulated review would be a massive undertaking for TriMet and would delay a project that is close to breaking ground.
Koerner says he supports an overcrossing, but not at 14th right outside his business. He and his attorney Jennifer Bragar of Tomasi Salyer Martin say it should be built several blocks east at SE 16th Avenue — at the same location of the old crossing that was torn down in 2013. They say they’ve been blindsided by the location at 14th and that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) completed in 2010 for TriMet’s Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project never mentioned the new location.
In her letter to the FTA, Brager wrote: “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.”
But that’s not accurate, say TriMet and PBOT officials.
TriMet Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt contacted us yesterday to say, “Claims were made that 14th Avenue was not considered in the FEIS. It was.” Altstadt supplied an excerpt from the PMLR Project FEIS (PDF). On page 2-12, it 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… the construction of this overpass would be deferred, but the project will still be designed to meet ADA requirements and includes the other station area access improvements described above.”
Altstadt also reiterated that the initial scope of the project would have required the removal of the building currently occupied by K & F Coffee Roasters and that the current proposal has a lesser impact.
PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera also contacted us with a statement about the project. “We disagree that a Supplemental EIS is needed,” he wrote in an email yesterday.
Rivera said PBOT and TriMet are working together to reduce the project’s impact on loading and unloading activities. As for concerns from business owners that the project will introduce a major safety hazard to bicycle users and walkers, Rivera says, “This is a low-traffic street with low-speed vehicle traffic. We think bicycles, pedestrians and freight can be safely accommodated here, as they are in many other locations in Portland.”
Rivera added that they’re considering creating a new loading zone for Sustainable Northwest Wood, another business on 14th that requires large truck access. Currently, those trucks park in the middle of the street and unload with a forklift. Rivera says the trucks create a major safety hazard and that a new loading zone would improve sight lines for all users. The catch is, it would require removal of several on-street auto parking spaces.
To cement his case that 14th in this location is a very low-traffic street, Rivera supplied us with recent traffic counts. On December 12th, PBOT counted 320 total vehicles, including three large tractor trailers and 33 small and medium-sized trucks. The count was similar to previous counts PBOT has performed at this location in 2015 and 2016. For reference, PBOT’s standard for Neighborhood Greenways is fewer than 1,000 cars/trucks per day and their new “Shared Streets” standard is less than 500 cars/trucks per day.
In an email after our story was published, Koerner emphasized his concerns about safety. “The safety issue is paramount, the congestion which will be created with the structure in front of my office will cause additional safety concerns. Everyone on the street wants safety studies completed before the bridge is built.”
He also supplied us with several letters from people opposed to the project. One of them is Lisa Cicala, executive director of the Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), a non-profit based in Koerner’s building. Cicala shared the image above and wrote, “Considering the industrial traffic on this road, it’s so important to take these safety concerns into serious consideration. If an injury can be prevented or a life saved because due diligence was done, it will be worth it.”
“Safety studies” are much different than a federally regulated SEIS done according to the National Environmental Protection Act review process. Perhaps Koerner and others would be satisfied with a compromise where TriMet and PBOT complete a safety plan/report and promise certain mitigations if/when safety hazards crop up? We’ll see.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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The FEIS predates Koerner’s tenancy and trucks will still be able to access the location he rents. Federal funding is locked in and design has started on the bridge, changing now would threaten 14 million in funding that will serve as a boost to the local economy.
I’m having a hard time seeing how the movement of the long-planned bridge location on public ROW to another location is in the public’s best interest.
Yeah, but the FEIS also describes a totally different bridge. When was the choice made to switch to an elevator instead of ramps, and place the landing in the ROW instead of on K & F Roasters’ property? The drawing with the updated design is dated 10/15/18, I’d assume it wasn’t the first one like that, so at some point between 2010 and then a decision was made to remove the ramps and also remove ROW.
The ADA ramps wording in the FEIS doesn’t specify the bridge type. It references ADA ramps but that is in relation to the sidewalk ramps. A bridge type for something so small would be determined later in the design process during scoping or design acceptance.
A drawing and alternatives would have been presented in the FEIS if it was determining the bridge type.
One of the important lessons here is that you can always find a lawyer who is willing to take your money.
Buying or Leasing industrial or even residential property is a tricky business that requires much due diligence to avoid pitfalls such as this. It is surprising to most people how often any kind of real estate is encumbered with easements, planned road right of ways, floodplain designations , wetlands limitation, seismic faults etc. As a person who has been a small business person for 32 years I feel for Koerner, but I also know how often property decisions are made with all the limitations of a location being well designated but not well researched. I hope this one can be worked out but there is a very tricky balance between public and private use that can not always be worked out to the benefit of the property owner.
While that sounds nice, those options sound more doable for the upper class as many people in Portland are just happy to be own something, even if it’s about to get screwed by the new environmental overlay, for instance. I’m glad you are able to have the ability to do such things and not be outbid by someone moving from Cali. I applaud your attempts at a narrower view conclusion.
Are you replying to someone else? I don’t see how your response is relevant to the issue at hand.
Replying to BikeNinja. Sorry if you can’t understand how it applies. Maybe read it slower? 😉
Wait, you are saying that it is a bad thing if a buyer from Cali outbids you for a problem property and gets stuck with the baggage? On a daily basis my wife deals with people who move to Washington County from California and outbid the locals only to find out that the new house they bought floods badly when it rains. They want to know what the local government is going to do to help them despite the fact that the property they bought is clearly on the flood maps. They find out that they are on their own, and before buying they should have figured out why it was called Beaverton, ( hint because prior to being settled it was all swamps and Beaver Ponds).
You don’t think that a business owner falls in the “upper class?” This guy is a multimillionaire.
I’ve been operating a winery at 14th and Clinton for 6 years and I just heard about this project a few days ago.
“Currently, those trucks park in the middle of the street and unload with a forklift. Rivera says the trucks create a major safety hazard and that a new loading zone would improve sight lines for all users.”
This is how I load and unload. Is PBOT going to build me a loading dock? Probably not. Not all traffic is equal. This is a light industrial corridor and a poor choice of location for a pedestrian bridge.
“We think bicycles, pedestrians and freight can be safely accommodated here, as they are in many other locations in Portland.”
I strongly disagree. The possible introduction of bike lanes will provide confusion as an elevator does not make a bike bridge. It’s amazing that after spending $1,500 million building the Orange Line extension, they need to skimp and save by building a gimped bridge in the easiest location for construction, never mind that it’s not a good location for use. 12th is where the bridge is needed, and one that includes bike ramps, which would eliminate the need for an elevator and thereby kill two birds with one bridge.
For all the education that sits downtown plotting these great ideas I would’ve thought that they would have some common sense. I’ll be sure to set up a mobile bike company to fix bikes while all the cyclists wait in line for the elevator.
And a property that doesn’t have space to fit a truck for loading/unloading without using the public street seems like a poor choice for a business that needs to load and unload trucks regularly. I mean, it might work for a few years, but since you don’t own the street, you need to be prepared for possible changes, including changes that have been public knowledge for the better part of a decade. Do your due diligence. The public should not have to foot the bill for poor business decisions by moving or redesigning a project that has been in work for 8 years.
Go walk the length of SE 2nd and tell all those businesses to change. Are you going to lecture kids playing basketball in the street next?
I’m not telling them to change. I’m just not going to come to their defense if the City determines that there is a better use for the public ROW.
As for kids playing in the street: that is the kind of the point, here. The streets should be accessible to everyone. When private businesses park large vehicles in the public space, it becomes a hostile environment for everyone else. Trucks belong in loading bays on private land.
Chris I, you seem to have odd ideas about how business should operate. Food service, trash service, deliveries of all sorts, happen either in the middle of the street or in a designated parking spot on the side of the street. You also are not differentiating the multiple types of neighborhoods and communities within a city, where different types of use might be tolerated or not tolerated. This pedestrian bridge location has been chosen by fiat, and possibly with corrupt campaign contributions, to be built in a location convenient for the developer and the city, but not for users. It’s a light industrial zone, and the opposition is coming from local businesses on that street, all of whom support Michael Koerner. It just so happens that Michael is taking the worst of it, and is willing to spend more money then us fighting this.
Also I’m not sure what you mean by due diligence. I’ve been here for 6 years and just heard about this a few days ago. What does due diligence have to do with it?
“Also I’m not sure what you mean by due diligence. I’ve been here for 6 years and just heard about this a few days ago. What does due diligence have to do with it?”
It sounds like the project has been on the books (publicly) for 8 years and you’ve been there for 6. Due diligence 6 years ago would have turned up a project that could potentially change ROW on your street and you could have made an informed decision about whether to accept that risk when choosing the location of your business.
Campaign contributions? This was part of a long, multiprong open public process years ago, then professional burocrats made the final location choice based on safety when the after studies on the Orange line were done. The timeline was long, yes,I but there were no politicians involved until now.
>>> This pedestrian bridge location has been chosen by fiat, and possibly with corrupt campaign contributions, to be built in a location convenient for the developer and the city, but not for users. <<<
Of all the other feasible locations, which would you choose? Where will the money to build in that location come from?
The bike tax 🙂
Just because you don’t understand the process involved, doesn’t mean it was done by “fiat”. This is clearly the most logical location for a bridge over the tracks that will increase the walkshed of the Clinton station. It is immediately South of the platform and is also the shortest span over the tracks. It also doesn’t require the purchase of any private land. This is the best deal for taxpayers.
All those businesses need to change.
Your straw-man argument with children playing basketball is sad.
Johnny Bye Carter, my home was slated for demolition to build the Mt. Hood Freeway. Now businesses who have operated for decades on 14th are having to face an edict by the city that our street is to become a bike route and a pedestrian thoroughfare. Is your argument that all zoning should bend towards the needs of pedestrians and bicycles, regardless of local conditions? This being a democracy, we will push back, just as the previous residents of my house did for the Mt. Hood Freeway. These short term arguments of ‘it’s too hard to build it in the appropriate location’, or ‘the Feds just gave us a pile of money but with lots of strings attached’, are not very good.
No. My argument is that all zoning should bend towards the needs of people, regardless of local conditions.
And I agree that they should not build the bridge here. It’s a bad spot in it’s current configuration. And I also think the business owners shouldn’t be complaining.
I’m glad that we don’t live in a democracy, as you think we do.
Wow. That’s sad that youre tossing this back at the business owner. I actually hope businesses get smart and leave this town. Simply too much bs. But I hope PBOT does the same in front of your house and let’s you know about it when it doesn’t matter. This and reasons like this is why I give PBOT and it’s employees the finger and any other choice word I can conjure up when I see them.
The funny thing in all of this is no one is talking badly about the railroad. Sounds like the city is bowing to them and their interests. I wonder how much emissions they toss up in the air as you cruise by this continued poor choice of a crossing? Probably more than Bullseye Glass 😉
Any time you want to go up against UP with any tiny chance of winning, let me know. In the meantime I have very little sympathy with the business owners demanding the public ROW be theirs to do with at the expense of the community. We need this bridge. Simple as that.
Actually, the city just cut a deal with a local business on my street, under very similar circumstances. Rose City Futsal wanted to utilize a dead-end portion of NE 49th St adjacent to their private parking lot. Instead of just occupying the space and treating it as their own, as Koerner does, they cut a deal with the city to lease and improve the land for use as a parking lot. I completely support that, and I support local businesses that play by the rules.
Koerner has no case here. Instead of paying the lawyer for the frivolity, he should have applied the money towards safety improvements for his loading bay under the new street configuration.
Did they happen to improve that connection to the north as part of the improvements? Though unfunded, that has been designated as a Bikeway in the comprehensive plan as well.
“That’s sad that youre tossing this back at the business owner.”
That’s sad that you think it’s OK to break the law by blocking the street while running a business.
Blocking the ROW on a dead end street… lol, thanks for the laugh.
Try to keep up with the conversation. We’re now talking about 14th and Clinton, which there’s no dead-end at. It’s most likely their trucks are unloading on 14th at Clinton, so they’re either double-parking on the west side of the street or blocking the driveway on the east side of the street. Either way it’s illegal.
If you know of some exceptions to laws on one-way streets I’m interested to know them.
John, I’m sympathetic to your response. It’s hard to know what all is happening everywhere all the time and can see how this can rattle you some. It seems that it would be good to have PBOT talk with you folks. They’re just as concerned about people not getting hurt as you are. If they’re talking about a loading zone, how is it laid out? What are the ways that things will be built to keep the bikes and walkers separate from the big trucks?
One thing is for sure: With the funds available, there’s no way to even think about a 11th/12th bridge(s). Those would be much longer, wider, and more stout. They may have to go as far back as Powell to get the slopes they need to get one of those big trucks up to the top of the bridge. It’s a whole other level of project. The available funds would largely be eaten up by the engineering and such that goes into such a big project. $14 million is about the cost of a typical pedestrian and bicycle bridge if you look at bridges like the Darleen Hooley, I-405/Flanders crossing, and Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge.
Trucks unloading in the middle of the street are illegal and dangerous and shouldn’t be tolerated in a city.
Hoo boy. How long is “momentarily”, anyway?
(3) When applicable, this subsection exempts vehicles stopped, standing or parked momentarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers.
You probably wanted to keep reading because the next section (J) says it’s illegal to double-park.
The section you pointed to (I) refers to legal parking, not illegal parking. You can’t double park (illegal) for 4 hours.
Confirmed 30 seconds to unload goods per PBOT.
If vehicle is sitting longer than 30 seconds then you need a proper loading zone to park in.
I see car carrier trucks regularly unloading brand new cars from the middle lane of SE McLaughlin (99 East).
Hi John, I appreciate your insight, but there are several facts I’d like to point out. I don’t mean this to be addressing you in particular, but all businesses in this part of the neighborhood.
1. This is not a full-fledged industrial zone you operate in. It’s designated for “General Employment”, which allows some industrial uses, but also allows office, schools, churches, daycare, etc. Residential is not allowed in order to preserve employment producing property, but per the zoning code, the employment zones “allow a wide range of employment opportunities without potential conflicts from interspersed residential uses.” (Section 33.140.030 of zoning code)
2. If your business is at the corner of 14th and Clinton, you are literally across the street from residentially-zoned property.
3. You say you moved to this location six years ago. The planned replacement of the ped bridge removed from 16th Ave at this location was a settled matter before you moved there with significant public process. Many neighbors expect this project to fulfill an obligation of the light rail project to improve street connectivity in a dense urban area that many people live, work and travel through. It’s unfortunate you see this as a surprise, but surprises like this are common when real estate brokers don’t know everything happening in the location of a sale or lease. Also, Clinton has been a bike greenway since well before you moved to that location as well.
In summary, this is not just a “light industrial. Corridor”, it’s a mixed use location with significant presence of residential uses, both new and old. I would hope that businesses using public streets in this area are operating in a way that respects everyone’s safety already. These are not “industrial” streets!
Hi JR, I appreciate the research you have done into the land around where I have worked for 6 years. You almost know more then me! You describe my situation as if I am an anomaly on this street. In fact, every business on this street is against this foot bridge. Perhaps we should go back and talk to the previous business owners when this thing was apparently wrapped up, 10 years ago? In any case, we are now opposed to it. That’s fine. You like it. And we will try to thwart it and you can try to help it. Nothing wrong with that.
You describe the layout of this neighborhood according to words on paper. I see on this street a lumberyard, a large non retail coffee roaster, a paper collating company, a winery, a movie equipment rental and a machine show. None of these are storefronts. All are ‘light industrial’ and none are strictly ‘commercial’. The last thing we all want is a damn bike thouroughfare down our street. Now I say ‘our’ only in the sense we are the residents, the city can always pursue eminent domain or add the bike lanes. We are expressing our displeasure.
Also, I strongly doubt the bridge will be useful.
The bridge will be very useful as long as UPRR is using their track.
See, here’s the thing. Outside if your one street, essentially everyone else supports this project. This is for the greater good. The safety concerns raised are overblown, and the businesses will be minimally impacted. Everything will be fine.
Neither the city nor trimet need to pursue eminent domain because this is a public street in public ownership. No one need step a foot on your property. It’s very obvious the city is looking at being accommodating to adjacent property owners, especially the loud ones, but not at the expense of everyone else. If you and the other six businesses you mentioned on this street aren’t willing to compromise, that’s too bad for you.
You also basically said that your mind is made up and you oppose this project regardless. That’s all I needed to hear. Cheers!
Hi JR, If this was a worthwhile project I would not be opposed to it. Your argument that we are NIMBY’s is essentially saying that the local residents affected by the large decisions of the City government should just shut up and take it. I assume you adopt that position yourself only when you yourself think a project is worthwhile, then when you don’t like one, you yourself become a NIMBY for other things. Such are the efforts of the citizenry, who speak up for their concerns.
I’m opposed to this project on two fronts. Both as a local, and also as a general resident. Locally because I don’t think the bridge will benefit, rather it will be a harm. But also generally, in that this is a poor project. The proposed pedestrian bridge does not alleviate bicycle and pedestrian traffic at 12th. The idea that all bicycle traffic will redirect through an elevator is absurd. It’s also wishful thinking that pedestrians will find this useful.
If, JR, you prefer talking only to those people who are unaffected by a project and who are unsure whether to go nay or yay, then more power to you. But don’t think your being open minded by doing so. Your just interested in convincing people of your own opinion, and disregarding people who have a stake in the matter. Those are the much more difficult conversations to have.
Like I said, you already made up your mind. you’re not convincing anyone of your plight having bought a business on one of the busiest bike greenways in the city years after it was improved as such. Somehow you think a side street is yours, but it isn’t. Enough said. Continue wasting your time and money on this effort.
Instead of pushing people with bikes away, why not welcome them? Bike access means more people in the area. People on bikes shop and spend on money. Some of us drink wine but of course there are lots of places to buy wine.
If a business has a retail component, the more bikes the better.
Some of us have been waiting since the mid-1990s for a new footbridge, it has been a very long process. Nice to see brand new stakeholders of the corridor try to slam on the brakes at the 11th hour tho!
Mid-1990s? There was a pretty decent bridge there at the time, unless you were disabled. Of course, the construction of the LR station has changed the dynamics of where the bridge would work best.
It may be a poor choice for a bridge, but it’s the only choice, and not building the bridge is an even poorer choice.
Build it !
“View from Koerner Camera Systems showing 3 illegally parked vehicles.”
“View from Koerner Camera Systems showing 3 illegally parked vehicles.”
Hmm. The sidewalk is a dead end that services only Koerner camera, so sure, they are ‘illegally’ parked. The semi in the middle of the street is perhaps in violation of some writ somewhere, but the police and traffic enforcement seem to have no problems with commercial freight unloading as fits the situation, particularly on dead end streets.
How about this, I’ll forgive all the peccadillos of bicyclists, and you can stop moaning about when cars don’t follow the letter of the law?
Once again, just hearing about this and not first hand. “considering creating a new loading zone for Sustainable Northwest Wood, another business on 14th that requires large truck access. Currently, those trucks park in the middle of the street and unload with a forklift. Rivera says the trucks create a major safety hazard and that a new loading zone would improve sight lines for all users. The catch is, it would require removal of several on-street auto parking spaces.” Do these people realize that when they make decisions that impact someone they should at least notify them before they make public statements?
Tamra, let me start by saying I’m empathetic towards how this project may change the way you unload and load trucks.
That being said, who owns the street and the parking spaces on the it? Serious question.
I am very sympathetic to Koerner in one regard, that in many ways is the elephant in the room here. Useable industrial and warehouse space is getting very difficult to find in the central part of the city. While some business’s can move to the outskirts ,others like Koerner need to be located close in because that is where there customers are, and traveling long distances with expensive rented gear is not desired. I would guess that if he could, he would have occupied a warehouse with a less compromised loading dock. But between indoor grow operations, condo conversions and crossfit gyms much of the good warehouse and industrial space has been diverted from its highest and best use. It is popular to think that we are moving toward some kind of service or knowledge based economy, but that is an illusion. For the last 2 or 3 decades we have been in one of several asset bubbles where our economy has mostly been a product of credit creation (debt). But one day we will lose the exorbitant privilege of being able to print up money and trade it to other countries for useful goods. We will find ourselves having to make our own stuff, and we will be very very very sorry we replaced the factories, machine shops, warehouses, and workshops with yoga studios, apartments and photography studios.
Everyone wants the benefits of living in a city, but none of the hassle.
The more creatives and industrial companies we push out, the less this is the town we liked to live in.
The use of oversized trucks is abused throughout the metro area. The pollution, road damage and danger that they cause is not made up for by their efficiency. It is ignored for the bottom line of shipping companies and because fuel is cheap enough to run them mostly half empty. Many cities have greatly restricted the use of the truck shown in the picture in population dense urban areas.
Claiming that your business operations require a level of danger in an urban public space that prohibits access of people who live in the area is ridiculous.
I would much rather this be built on SE Clinton St & SE 12th…
Me too, but it won’t work there.
Considering Portland’s anti-business climate this is not surprising.
All the anti-business must be why Forbes rates the city so high and it has a positive growth trend.
Maybe the metro is too general so here’s just Portland and all it’s upward trends.
I just came from a site visit. There is at least 40 feet curb to curb on SE 14th the entire 1.5 blocks to SE Clinton. The only delivery curb cut on the west side, opposite the carmera rental, is the above mentioned Sustainable Northwest Wood. The west side also has a fully built out city standard sidewalk. If after construction there are still conflicts, then a cemented two way cycle track can be added with the loss of 15 parking spaces. These are NOT metered, but two hours except for “L” permit parking, which is only for a few blocks.
In this case the transportation hierarchy, city code, would require parking removal to facilitate the cycle track. We would have to expand the parking permit zone, but there is no Engineering reason this design could not accommodate all users at safety levels significantly better than currently exist. After taking this entire two day discussion into account, reading every comment, I fully agree with Trimet and PBOT.
You seriously think the city should build a cycle path to an elevator?! That’s crazy. This is a pedestrian bridge.
The TriMet website actually mentions bikes before pedestrians.
“A New Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge Along the Orange Line
We will be adding a safer new crossing for bikes and pedestrians over the rail tracks near the Clinton St/SE 12th Ave MAX Station.”
Note: bikes do not come without attached people. People are good for business. People on bikes are generally pretty good at finding their way around trucks unloading on the street because this happens every day everywhere.
I doubt it will be needed since it will only be used by cyclists when there is a train. The drivers and equipment dock workers will learn very quickly when there will be cyclists is any real numbers, as there will be a train….right there.
I just saying is that if the TRUE argument I’d about safety, we have an easy way to build the mist robust possible protection. I’m confident that signs, lights and striping is all that will be needed.
There are no delivery zones on 14th south of Clinton on Google Street View. The wood place has one on Clinton, but that’s it. Did they add one since the 2017 view?
did you measure it?
To all the folks here acting like Koerner should have known about the removal of ROW on that street because it had been made public 8 years ago, I invite you to actually look at the published document that’s currently excerpted above: https://trimet.org/pdfs/pm/FEIS/FEIS_Vol1_Chapters.pdf
One, the document is 571 pages long, and the section mentioning a new location for the bridge is literally JUST that paragraph, which Trimet helpfully highlighted in red in their 2-page excerpt so that folks like us reading about it here don’t need to look too hard.
Two, both the text in the FEIS and the engineering drawing describe a fundamentally different bridge than the one now proposed, a bridge that both doesn’t remove any ROW and also uses ramps instead of elevators. That bridge would have required using the space that K & F Roasters occupies, and not have impacted Koerner’s property, but presumably K & F have better lawyers and were making it too expensive to proceed with the published proposal. It hasn’t been made clear yet when the new proposal was published, or whether Koerner could have been informed about it prior to moving in to that location.
The takeaway for me as a cyclist is especially annoying – TriMet, in this case, apparently promised a much better bridge and then decided it was too expensive. ADA ramps are a much better option for cyclists than an elevator, I think we all agree on that. If Koerner hadn’t decided to hire a lawyer and make a big stink about this we’d all just be getting a watered down version of the bridge that was promised, and unless someone dug through 571 pages of FEIS to see what was originally there we’d never know.
So Koerner’s beef should be with his neighbors across the street, rather than the city?
Boy howdy, that’s a lot of words to basically say “I looked at the document and confirmed this project was public information before the business in question moved in.” You’re really putting the gish in that gallop!
Oh come on. You’re complaining about the size of the document for an enormous 7+ mile project? If it weren’t that exhaustive, I’m sure there would be complaints about how scant the documentation was.
Pro tip. Ctl + f will allow you to search a PDF or Word document for key words. Try it.
>>> If Koerner hadn’t decided to hire a lawyer and make a big stink about this we’d all just be getting a watered down version of the bridge that was promised <<<
Thanks to his big stink, instead of a watered down bridge, we might get no bridge at all. We should be grateful.
I know that’s intended as sarcasm, but yeah, we should be. TriMet went through a public proposal process in order to do a large project, we were given input on that proposal, and then they arbitrarily changed it to neuter its usefulness for cyclists. Are you suggesting that we should be grateful to TriMet for pulling a bait-and-switch?
Indeed I am not. We can argue about whether ramps are needed (given that cyclists will only use this bridge on occasions when the tracks are blocked, I’m not sure it would be money well spent), but that is a separate discussion from whether we need a bridge at all, which is what this article is about. I think the need is obvious, and once we agree on that, we can talk further about its design.
Do you agree that we need a bridge?
Absolutely, I agree we need a bridge. I disagree that the article is about whether a bridge is needed or not, since it paints Koerner as having moved in much more recently than the discussion over the bridge, cynically expecting that it wouldn’t be built, and then lawyering up to stop it when he should have known from the initial FEIS that he’d be losing the entry to his parking lot.
It looks more to me like both the cyclists who need the bridge and Koerner were lied to about what it would end up looking like.
Okay we agree that we need a bridge. My understanding that the FTA will only pay for a bridge immediately adjacent to the station. So if we want a bridge, it has to be at 14th or 12th, or we need to come up with the money to pay for it ourselves.
So in the absence of additional funding, how do we proceed? It seems to me the only choice is to put a bridge at 14th because unless we want to close a lane of 12th, that location seems totally infeasible.
Let’s put it a different way. What would it take to put the bridge anywhere else? And can we do it?
Daniel, you have some good points. And, I think you are one of the few commenters that is surprised to find out that Trimet proposed something substantial, but scaled it back to a compromised piece of bike/ pedestrian infrastructure that will be painfully underutilized. It may seem upsetting and startling, but this sad, sad story is older than “old Portland.”
The narrative structure of all transportation projects in Portland is something like a greek tragedy, except that the flawed protagonists walk away at the end without a scratch, ready to do it all over again.
The Portland Metro Transportation Tragedy in 3 acts.
1. Progressive Utopia: The flawed protagonist, a transportation agency filled with a mix of dreamers and crusty bureaucrats finds a pot of money for a transportation project. In this case, a bridge for trains and buses across the Willamette. Excited about their riches and wanting everyone on their side, they greenwash the hell out of the project, and over promise on design that will bolster bike/ ped/ community building/ place making/ and more recently, social justice so that the elected officials can have endless photo ops and get green cred.
2. Bait and Switch: During planning, they start to scale back the design by cutting bike and pedestrian infrastructure due to “cost” or “feasibility” but more likely falls under the category of not caring and thinking of bike ped as out of their purview. With TriMet this act also includes the comedic relief of hiring engineers who don’t know how to design bike infra and are happy just to slap some crazy maze of sidewalks, arrows and lights together and call it good. (Typically, a montage set to Yakety Sax). In general, no one with authority cares unless a car is slowed down or there is the perception of a car being slowed down. (Like the foreshadowing?) Finally, the implementation of a watered down, indirect, incremental, confusing piece of bike infrastructure is within sight as the biking community cheers “Yeah, I guess that’s better than nothing.” But then, Act III.
3. NIMBY Rage: Everyones favorite classics, like “No one ever told me,” “Rammed down our throats,” “Think of little little businesses.” “Someone will get hurt.” “I’m a cyclist too.” “Gentrification, I don’t know what it means but it makes people shut up.” “I saw a cyclist run a stop sign!” At this stage, there are cameos by the various actors like the PBA, B list legislators, and maybe an expert on urban transportation like a taco or gelato mogul, or a theater owner. The drama is once again at its height, although everyone is exhausted because it has already gone on way too long. And the it ends with everyone singing the Portland city hall’s national anthem “Let’s compromise on the compromises that we compromised everything to achieve because compromising is hard and something about sausage and middle ground and sharrows.”
Its actually pretty boring after you’ve seen it a few times, but the hook, the reason everyone keeps coming back is because you never know if anything is ever going to be built until curtains. Nothing could be built, something great could be built, but usually something that is a little more than nothing, that is strange and wonderful like a bonsai tree of broken dreams takes its place in the Portland landscape.
This one is an instant classic. I love this part: “because compromising is hard and something about sausage and middle ground and sharrows.”
But I really DID see a cyclist run a stop sign.
INCONCEIVABLE! Did he *RUN* it and therefore was not cycling, or did he *ROLL* through it? He couldn’t have done both. Quit changing the story! 😉
As a bike guy and a person who knows the location really well- crappy place to put a crossing.
Normally a big fan of PBOT- and have been involved in the transpo of bike/ped for a looooong time and 12th is a much better corridor.
Let me ask you this: of the available options, which do you think would be best, and why? As a reminder, they are: 1) Put a bridge in at 14th; or 2) No bridge at all.
No Bridge At All. IMO, and I doubt you care about MO in NC, but from a long-term BIKE advocacy point of view, you are better off rejecting a bad and useless compromise than agreeing to a white elephant that won’t be used as much as a $14 million project ought to be. You are right, this is a pedestrian bridge, and very nice it is too, as a pedestrian bridge. But it doesn’t work for bikes nor will it ever, even if you later add ramps. It’s the wrong design.
IMO, if you accept this obscene compromise, the local bike advocacy community effectively loses all its remaining credibility. You’d be willing to sell out to bad design, poor connectivity, and any willingness to work with the business community to create something better, safer, and more creative.
IMO, you are better off joining the protest of this “compromise of compromises” as SD justly puts it, and use that $14 million for something, anything, that is far more useful (and I’m sure you can easily find something.)
Whoa there, cowboy… this IS a pedestrian bridge; cyclists will only ever use this when a train is blocking the way, ramps or no. And there is no room to add ramps anyway without buying property; and if we were going to lay out the money for that, I’d rather have ramps at the Lafayette Bridge, for which there is no superior route available 90% of the time.
I don’t think this even remotely qualifies as an “obscene compromise”; it’s a good enough project that is far better than any possible alternative. And again, it’s a pedestrian bridge that cyclists will use only when the way is blocked, which, most of the time, it isn’t.
It is unfortunate that money for projects comes with restrictions that drastically limits their functionality, but my understanding is that if this bridge isn’t built the money is gone and there won’t be a bridge. It’s not perfect but it will get people across the tracks when a train is sitting there for an indefinite amount of time. Thats a huge improvement. With regards to respect for cycling advocates, sadly, nothing gains the respect of electeds more than simply getting what you want. It doesn’t matter what that thing is, and if it comes with “free money” all the better.
How will that choice look after a pedestrian gets killed attempting to cross the tracks to get to the MAX station? A bus driver friend tells me MAX operators consider it more or less a matter of time before they have a collision with a pedestrian (and no they can’t just stop). Granted, people in a hurry might skip the bridge, but shouldn’t we offer a safe choice to the people who will take a minute or two to cross it? And what are people using mobility devices supposed to do? Jog down to the grade crossing and sit in the rain counting to 2525?
Given that the terrain here is pretty flat I might choose to ride around a bridge. Elevators are slow. However a person on foot is in a different situation. The cost of this bridge is 1% of the cost of the Orange line. Isn’t it worth that to open up the 12th St. station to the local population, as well as a fair number of workplaces and the lower end of Division St?
“Progressive Utopia: The flawed protagonist, a transportation agency filled with a mix of dreamers and crusty bureaucrats finds a pot of money for a transportation project. In this case, a bridge for trains and buses across the Willamette. Excited about their riches and wanting everyone on their side, they greenwash the hell out of the project, and over promise on design that will bolster bike/ ped/ community building/ place making/ and more recently, social justice so that the elected officials can have endless photo ops and get green cred.”
This is factually incorrect.
Vera Katz, who chaired the design committee for the Tilikum Crossing, allowed me to sit as an observer of its work. She even allowed me to make a brief presentation of my alternate design, a steel bridge of three arches, which thoroughly deconstructed the “wave-frame” design of the committee’s “bridge-architect.” My preliminary structural analysis revealed the “wave-frame” to be so heavy as to be unsupportable. Seymon Tryger, Tri-Met’s structural engineer, agreed with me that the “wave-frame” could not be built.
The mass of the cable-stayed design that was built is at the geometric mean of my steel arches and the wave-frame. It was the optimal economic and structural solution, at $135 million.
Fred Hansen, then Director of Tri-Met, said that he asked Vera to chair the design committee because he wanted a “zero BS” project. He got that. After the last meeting of the committee I remarked to Vera that it had been the best public process I had ever seen. She replied, “I run a good meeting.”
Thanks, Vera! You are sorely missed!
Vera had nothing to do with the east side and west side connections. I tried to get these as simple and as functional as possible, to no avail. Here Tri-Met and PBOT ran amok.
We still are having to deal with that.
Nice write up… my only complaint is that you omitted the word “completely” that belongs between “ran” and “amok”.
This project existed long before Vera & Fred got involved, it was part of the original MAX/Metro regional 2040 plan. IMO, SD may be over-simplifying, but I’m not so sure he’s factually incorrect. I have met many TriMet, PBOT, and Metro planners, many of whom do dream and some are in fact crusty. They have been known to fall in love with FTA funding streams.
Thanks Jim. When we write the rock opera there will be roles for Portland luminaries as well. I was trying to keep it short and relevant to the many of the active transportation projects in Portland not just the Tilikum.
The Tilikum Crossing is a major accomplishment as a transit bridge and not bad for walking and biking as well. But, it could have provided a fluid bike and pedestrian corridor that connected SE Portland to the SW waterfront to PSU in a truly amazing way. The Tilikum fits the tragic narrative because it could have been a game changer, but is stifled by the lack of commitment to active transportation once you get off the bridge.
Hope we can flesh out a few more details before opening at the Keller ; )
Lair Hill would be a great place to reconnect the closed-off streets adjacent to Naito Parkway. It would make it easier to access mass transit and the many nearby trails. There has been talk of reconnecting those streets with the SW Corridor project.
The reality is that if this gets built, his landlord will likely not renew his lease, and the land will eventually become housing.
No, that’s not the reality. Koerner owns his property, and its not zoned for housing.
zonings change all the time.
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.
Where, exactly, would a ramp go at 16th? Perhaps you don’t understand how big it would have to be to meet ADA standards.
And who would pay for it?
Well, sounds like you don’t know. I know exactly where it would go. If it were a train related purchase, Trimet would buy all the land it needed.
Let’s do the math. 20 foot elevation change is 240 inches, so, to meet ADA (8% maximum grade, about 1:12), you need a ramp at least 240 feet long, or about a city block in Portland. Add to that any bridge over a commercial driveway near the tower. You’d want something at least 8 feet wide, the width of a parking lane, 12 would be better. You could take some of the space curb to property line, but leaving some sidewalk next to the buildings would be a good idea.
Taggart has about 250 feet of space to work with.
X says “Instead of pushing people with bikes away, why not welcome them? Bike access means more people in the area. People on bikes shop and spend on money. ”
This isn’t a bike bridge. Also I’m already exposed to a huge volume of bike traffic on Clinton. My winery doesn’t have a tasting room though, so it doesn’t really have a retail presence. People in cars purchase much more wine then people on bikes. A special bike is required to purchase a case, whereas a normal car can transport several cases with ease. However your general premise is flawed. People on bikes shop less and spend less money then people in cars.
>>> People on bikes shop less and spend less money then people in cars. <<<
How do you know this?
And does it follow that when I’m in my car, I’m going to buy more than when I’m on my bike?
WAG (?) and wrong.
Like Mark Twain, one of those when expressing opinions does not confine themselves to facts.
Keep a close eye on that bicycle exposure! I hear it’s contagious.
Also, I like wine, but I have never purchased a case of it, in fact I don’t believe that a wholesale business is really suited to the city center.
I agree that every bike is special. Cars and trucks, not so much.
I’ve carried two cases home on my trek hybrid. (18 bottles in 2 panniers and 6 in my back pack.)
PS: A big thank you to Freddies/Krogers for their free 6 bottle carriers that I use at my local wine shop. 🙂
I think I see both sides of this (but maybe not). Both seem legit. But for me as a cyclist I cross at 12th. Heading west on Clinton I start scanning the RR crossing ahead at about 18th and if a freight train is crossing I turn left and go over to the Powell Blvd underpass. If heading east it’s easier, as the train is readily spotted and I continue up Gideon to the Powell Blvd. underpass. No time lost, different scenery, a bit more exercise thrown in. I’m always amazed to see cyclists standing by a stopped freight train and waiting when there’s such a good alternative. I think improvements could be made to this alternate route to make it better. Turned stop signs, a more convenient ramp to access under pass, better crossing where 17th ramp onto Powell is, a bit more policing of tents and campers on sidewalks etc. As a cyclist I think the money could be put to much better use than a bridge. However, if I was a pedestrian the alternate route of going over to the Powell would be unacceptable. So for pedestrians build a bridge for cyclists just put up better signage pointing to Powell underpass. I would much rather cycle to Powell than dismount and wait for an elevator at each end of the bridge to cross. Just curious does anyone know the frequency of freight trains? And does anyone here remember sitting in their car at 17th and Powell waiting for the slow freight trains to pass by?
If and when Amtrak and WSDOT gets a replacement Siemens Charger locomotive for Amtrak Cascades (one crashed in 2017), there will be an increase of trains for Amtrak Cascades that travel in Portland. This is partly due to the Point Defiance Bypass Project that was finished in 2017 (and then received PTC train control in 2018 and for 2019).
Well Dovydenas wrote on twitter: “I see the desire to change the climate according to our will as just another outgrowth of our desire to achieve total dominion of the planet. To maintain the earth like a museum, a pristine wilderness for our amusement. I prefer invasive species, extinction, and reasonable bylaws.”
So while people are noble in trying to discuss with him, probably for the best to let it go. Ignoring the logic that climate change is natural, and we unnaturally want to prevent it, it seems like this person also doesn’t care about generations beyond his own (so who cares about increasing walking/biking!).
Anyways, enjoy your new year, Bike Portland commenters, and probably let this battle go.
PDXCyclist writes “it seems like this person also doesn’t care about generations beyond his own “.
Having begun reading Bike Portland after a 10 year hiatus, due to a couple articles dealing with a bridge which will be affecting my business and neighborhood, I am in no way surprised to discover that it is still a community of intolerance, exclusion and radicalism.
Do you often judge people like this PDXCyclist, while hiding behind a cloak of anonymity? Because I have opinions on matters unrelated to this question that you disagree with, you use those to dismiss any other concerns I might have? ( were I of a different bent, I would say you are erasing my identity. ) Even though I’m a resident of Portland, and perhaps more affected by the things described by this article then you, you dismiss me out of hand as a crank? Maybe I’d rather Portland spent more money helping homeless people then removing English Ivy from Forest Park? Or perhaps I’d rather Portland didn’t murder Harbor Seals, no matter how many Salmon they eat? Or perhaps I think that because 85% of Portlanders own cars that implies that they enjoy the benefits of cars, and that your opinions are in the minority?
But from your perspective all those people driving cars are lunatics intent on murdering bicyclists who have signed a contract with Satan in which their children will be used as dog food, because they don’t care about the future. That’s the most likely reason why they oppose the bikeification of this city. Pure malice, and inhuman selfishness.
Without characterizing your precise language, I do believe that climate denial is a very radical viewpoint.
Hello, Kitty, what aspect of this irrelevant opinion of mine quoted by PDXCyclist expresses climate denial? I recognize that humans have caused climate change. The question I’m asking is, should we adapt ourselves to the climate or instead spend increasingly large amounts of money to maintain a previous environment when the earth is shifting to a new one? Wild Salmon are all but extinct on the Columbia river, with farmed Salmon making up the vast majority. What percentage of money and labor should we redirect from human use to prop up an artificial environment? If Salmon are merely being bred for our amusement and the health of the tourism industry, but justified as an ecological renovation, are we not toying with life and death to satisfy our taste buds? Where in nature do we find ‘invasive species’? Nowhere and everywhere. They are mainly the intellectual creation of environmentalists, and a human-ego driven attempt to thwart evolution, to maintain the status quo.
The dichotomy you seem to have seared in your mind, that there are those who love the earth, acknowledge the destruction caused by humans, and wish to redirect increasingly large amounts of money to the maintenance of a past environment, versus those people who wish to extract as much coal from the ground as possible, health and livelihood of humans and animals be damned, is increasingly strained. There is a middle path, and I feel I am walking the middle path, of conserving precious resources, which in this case, the government redistribution of labor to remake the environment, is limited not infinite.
Just look at it like this: Human progress involves building this bridge. If this results in the extinction of your business, just welcome it. (“prefer” it, rather.) Bikes can be the harbor seals and your winery can be the salmon. After all, why would we toy with life and death to satisfy our taste buds?
I do not want to assert that your comments mean anything in particular, but this is what I was reacting to:
>>> “I see the desire to change the climate according to our will as just another outgrowth of our desire to achieve total dominion of the planet. To maintain the earth like a museum, a pristine wilderness for our amusement. I prefer invasive species, extinction, and reasonable bylaws.”<<<
Maybe you didn't write this; maybe you did and meant something different; maybe you accept the reality of climate change and are asserting an even more radical position than climate denial; I'm not sure. I will say that there are not many who come out as pro-extinction. That's a pretty extreme position. If that's what you said.
Wow. I suggest you read more about the cost of a rising global temperature.
We don’t have the political will to do a damn thing about climate change, so, point taken. I’m all for eating weeds. Also it turns out they’re making nice sparkling wine in England now so what’s not to like?
I can’t agree there’s no point putting on the brakes: we’re losing species that we don’t know anything about, and if things are valuable because humans can use them, there go drugs that might come handy when diseases we’ve never heard of show up in Multnomah County because we don’t get a killing frost? Oops.
You’re right, it will be quite a while before a sunny day spring tide is lapping at SE 14th and Clinton. So, no worries. The huge ice caps on Greenland and Antartica are stable, yes? Even if they were to crack off into the ocean they would raise the sea level by no more than 220 feet. Fortunately Portland has a fair amount of real estate above that elevation. It’s so unlikely that such a thing would happen in our lifetimes, we should just accept that change happens.
It really is a shame just a handful of posters are allowed to take over and ruin what is really a pretty good forum and place for information. Don’t blame you for being put off though.
It is true that the Tilikum had long been planned and it was known that money would become available, but that is very long way from ensuring a successful project.
Consider the difference between the two major bridge projects undertaken at that time: Fred Hansen and Vera Katz at Tilikum; Matt Garrett and Deborah Kafoury at Sellwood.
ODOT/MultCo had a firm bid of $90 million from Bechtel. Gail Achterman (chair of Oregon Transportation Commission) had her staff do a study that found any cost over $80 million to produce no benefit. A fully functional span at Sellwood should have been the same length and width as Tilikum, but lighter because highway loading is less than rail loading. $80-90 million would be about right.
The key at Sellwood was how to deal with the active landslide at the west end. A variation on Tilikum would have generated no primary horizontal or vertical forces at either abutment, for all forces in a cable-stayed bridge are resolved downward through the towers into the river bed. The landslide could have done what landslides do without affecting the primary structure.
An even better design would have been the rarest and most economical of all structural types, a self-anchoring suspension bridge, for which the old bridge could have served as the necessary construction scaffolding.
David Goodyear, a master of arch bridges, designed the Sellwood, but it is the wrong bridge in the wrong place. The west arch generates vertical and horizontal forces right at the landslide; immense effort and cost were required for geotechnical engineering to try to restrain the sliding hill. That is why ODOT/MultCo spent three times what Bechtel/Achterman found was sufficient and proper.
More public money was wasted at Sellwood than on the Columbia River Crossing.
Incompetence? Fraud? Probably both. And Deborah Kafoury is not Vera Katz.
Tilikum Crossing is an engineering and aesthetic masterpiece. Also it is a masterpiece of project planning.
Thanks Fred. Thanks Vera.
Interesting… I’m a little surprised that PBOT provided data from ” December 12th”. Given that the film industry is dead in December, it’s not at all surprising that the numbers are low. PBOT would be better served if data was provided from spring/summer/fall.
I’m sure if they had data, they would offer it (PBOT publishes all its traffic counts on PortlandMaps). At this point, the only way to collect the data you want would be to delay the project further. Maybe that would be worthwhile, but TriMet says the money comes attached to some pretty constrained deadlines, so if the only way to collect more data were to kill the project, I would oppose it.
Also, what would the data tell us, specifically?