State Rep Rob Nosse says he supports Gideon Overcrossing at 14th Avenue

An Oregon state legislator wants to clarify his position on a controversial plan to build a bridge for bikers and walkers over rail tracks in southeast Portland.

TriMet concept drawing of the overcrossing. Koerner Camera Systems is in upper left.

After being informed by TriMet that they’d lose federal funding if the Gideon Overcrossing doesn’t get built on SE 14th as currently planned, Representative Rob Nosse says he supports that location — despite major concerns voiced by adjacent business owners.

As we’ve reported, Nosse wrote a letter to TriMet and the City of Portland on December 10th (PDF) asking them to consider moving the bridge to a different location. “I don’t think your planning is so far along that you could not consider an alternative,” Nosse wrote, after meeting with owners of Koerner Camera Systems, Sustainable Northwest Wood, and K&F Coffee. Nosse also felt that moving the bridge would be an “appropriate compromise” given the opposition.

Led by Michael Koerner of Koerner Camera Systems, businesses on 14th Avenue including Rapid Bind, Cascade Commercial Real Estate, and Dovydenas Winery, have organized against this project based on how they perceive the presence of a bridge — especially one that would cater solely to walkers and bikers — would impact public safety and access to their properties. Koerner has hired a land-use attorney who made a request for additional environmental review to the regional head of the Federal Transit Administration last month.

TriMet and PBOT both say no further study of the site is needed and they want to move forward. (A TriMet spokesperson told us today they’ve met with FTA officials and that, “the message was clear that no additional NEPA work is necessary and that we’d lose funding if we move the bridge.” Unfortunately, TriMet wasn’t able to provide documentation of that meeting.)

Rep. Nosse contacted BikePortland this morning after reading our story in the Southeast Examiner newspaper (where it was re-published with my permission). He was concerned I mischaracterized his position. Here’s what he shared in an email today:

“I wrote a letter to Tri-Met and PBOT asking if the pedestrian bridge could be moved to 16th street or even 8th street, thinking that this kind of compromise would help Mr. Koerner and his business and still allow for the bridge to be built.

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Since then, I have been informed by Tri-Met and PBOT that moving the bridge to a different location will result in the withholding of the money that the Federal Government is granting for the bridge project. In short, if we move the bridge there will be no money to build the bridge at all. If the choice is a bridge that utilizes 14th Avenue or no bridge at all, I would of course support the bridge being built at the 14th street location.

Hopefully it can be built/designed in a way that does not hurt Koerner Camera’s business.

Meanwhile, the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition has written a letter (PDF) to PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly urging her to approve the project “as soon as possible.” They say the business owners’ concerns can be mitigated and that further delays risks losing out on $15 million in federal funding.

For his part, Koerner wants a formal public process to be re-opened. “Safety concerns are real,” he shared with me in an email today. “Bicycle, pedestrian, train, and vehicular transportation circumstances have changed at and around this location since the public review process occurred nearly a decade ago… The businesses along SE 14th and other interested stakeholders have raised concerns that should be examined in a public process, not bullied into silence by fear-mongering about federal funding.”

To hear from other business owners and learn more about this project, don’t miss the robust discussion in the comment section of our previous post.

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

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Terry D-M
Terry D-M
3 years ago

This is good news. Thank You Rob Nosse for the clarification. Keep in mind that there is a fully built out city standard sidewalk on the west side of the street, which will line up with the bridge nicely . So this is really about possible bike conflicts, which will only be there in any numbers when there is a train., Which is quite the warning. A double elevator is a huge bike deterrent.

Terry D-M, SE Uplift

Steve Smith
Steve Smith
3 years ago

Nice to see the Rep. Nosse made a reasoned judgement. Seems like he should have talked to TriMet first before writing a letter suggesting that the bridge be moved. He only got one side of the story. I hope he doesn’t make all his decisions like that.

JR
JR
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Smith

Agreed. It’s good to have politicians who hear out the public concerns, but they should have talked to the experienced transportation professionals and the city/trimet folks who have been around more than one block of industrial businesses and federal projects to gain a balanced perspective before issuing statements (or official letters that read as statements).

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
3 years ago

“Safety concerns are real”

The only safety concerns I see are from illegal operation of motor vehicles. Statements from business owners and Google Street View have confirmed that there is a lot of illegal motor vehicle operation happening on this street.

If anything, this bridge will create more people traffic to keep those violations from happening as often.

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
3 years ago

Also, this seems like a really poorly planned bridge. Horrible site for it. They need to purchase one of those businesses on the north side of the tracks and build a better bridge with ramps. Broken elevators are not ADA compliant.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
3 years ago

Elevators are, in fact, ADA compliant.

Stephen J Sanow
Stephen J Sanow
3 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Except broken ones. Elevators shut down at the slightest hint of a tremor.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
3 years ago

What does the law say? That’s what determines whether something is ADA compliant or not, not what a non disabled person thinks should be the law based on their desire to have ramps to ride their bike up.

JR
JR
3 years ago

I disagree. I found the elevators on Lafayette ped crossing quite easy to use. I find the intersection of 11th/12th/Clinton/Freight and light rail tracks to be more cumbersome than a couple simple elevators. I also like the views from the bridges, so I expect this will become a more attractive option for folks. I just hope the signage of this route option is clear after it’s built.

Sue Hein, Owner, Rapid Bind, Inc
Sue Hein, Owner, Rapid Bind, Inc
3 years ago

As the owner of Rapid Bind, Inc. 2728 SE 14th Ave. , I am very much concerned by the plan to build this bridge at the end of our dead-end street. In trying to create a safer crossing of the railroad and light rail tracks, this proposal only moves the danger from one location to another. The two blocks of 14th between Clinton and the dead-end are occupied by several businesses that draw a great deal of truck traffic for pickup and delivery of goods.

Rapid Bind has been providing bindery services for local and regional printers in this location since 1984. The products that we convert come to us on pallets of 1000-2000 lbs. The pallets must be unloaded by forklift on 14th. Our neighbor across 14th loads and unloads lumber in the street. There are frequently two forklifts maneuvering heavy loads at the same time. Bicyclists traveling this two block area that leads to the proposed bridge would be at serious risk of injury from moving trucks and forklifts. On a recent day, we had two separate deliveries by 53′ truck, each carrying 22 pallets of paper. Each of those loads required 22 trips out to the street to unload. Our forklift drivers are very cautious but navigating around trucks with bicyclists sharing the street would create unnecessary hazards.

Every day we see groups of bicyclists traversing Clinton St. with little regard for vehicle traffic. I can’t imagine those groups traveling our hazardous stretch of road without incident.

MantraPDX
MantraPDX
3 years ago

Sue, are your drivers really flying out into the (public) street with no regard for other people using the road legally?

Sounds like some safety training might be in order. If one of your drivers injures or kills someone who do you think is going to be legally liable given that you’re publicly claiming that they can’t be trusted around people legally using the road with their heavy equipment?

Kenji Sugahara
Kenji Sugahara
3 years ago
Reply to  MantraPDX

Wow. That’s a big assumption.

MantraPDX
MantraPDX
3 years ago
Reply to  Kenji Sugahara

Yes, it’s speculation to prove a point; just responding in kind. Sue herself stated “I can’t imagine those groups traveling our hazardous stretch of road without incident.”

I ride through two actual industrial zones every work day and have yet to have a single incident with a semi or a forklift. I work right next to at least two companies that are constantly loading and unloading; I’ve yet to have a close call. In the last place I lived I also traveled through an industrial zone every work day without issue. With that in mind I’m inclined to believe that this area isn’t inherently more dangerous than actual industrial zones and it’s likely the behavior of the folks operating on that stretch of road is deviant when compared to the norm.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
3 years ago

I think it’s worth reiterating the point Terry made in the first comment above: people will only be using this facility in any numbers when a train is blocking the way. The bridge will not carry any bike traffic when a freight train is absent, and pedestrian traffic will be light.

So for at least 90% of the time, things will be much the same as they are now. My prediction is that, as a first approximation, nothing significant will change.

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
3 years ago

If those trucks weren’t parked in the road illegally then this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s illegal to park in the roadway to unload (for more than half a minute) or block a driveway (even your own). With the extra bike and pedestrian traffic you can expect to start getting complaints from cyclists about your business if illegally parked trucks cause traffic conflict.

Lobby to have all the parking turned into a truck loading zone. Then make sure all your carriers are authorized to park in Portland truck loading zones. The forklift drivers are trained to avoid obstacles and shouldn’t have a problem with some bikes around. Or get a building with sufficient truck loading capacities.

That so many businesses on the street have been breaking the law for so long does not give them the right to continue to do so.

It also looks like vehicles parked at your business frequently stick out far enough to obstruct the sidewalk. Expect complaints about that one from the pedestrians.

Also, you’re not on the dead-end section. Every street is a dead end if you look down the road far enough.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
3 years ago

>>> The forklift drivers are trained to avoid obstacles and shouldn’t have a problem with some bikes around. <<<

The same is true of car drivers, and there are still occasional problems.

Terrence D-M
Terrence D-M
3 years ago

Leaving the possible bike conflicts aside for a moment, the pedestrian bridge will connect directly to a city standard curbed sidewalk that qualifies as a safe safe pedestrian facility, the entire 1.25 blocks to Clinton with only one curb cut. If this is considered safe city wide on streets with 100 times the traffic counts explain what is unsafe about it. I’ll admit the east side is almost all curb cuts

Do the trucks regularly jump the west side curb? I did not see any damage to the 2 hour signs or trees. How many parked cars over the past 10 years have been hut by delivery trucks? What is unsafe about this sidewalk if a crosswalk or two is added at Clinton and Taggart?

Glennry Hill
Glennry Hill
3 years ago

Fear-mongering eh? You mean like citing “safety concerns” as a reason for not doing the bridge?

Protip, when someone starts saying “your safety, your safety,” and they are responsible for the thing that creates the risk, you should evaluate further to see where it falls on a continuum from “hypocritical concern,” to “veiled threat.”

hypocritical concern: “Get a helmet!” yelled from a car.

veiled threat: “Sure would be a shame if a fire broke out in here,” said by Tony Soprano.

rob
rob
3 years ago
Reply to  Glennry Hill

I think the camera man plans to cover the cost of the alternative location bridge when the federal funds fall through – that’s why he claims “fear mongering.” No fears at all, he’s got the funding guaranteed!

mark smith
mark smith
3 years ago

Politicians seem so eager to endorse flawed ideas..perhaps in hopes that the idea doesn’t live…but the can say “well, I supported it”?

The crossing needs to go on 16th. Not 14th.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
3 years ago
Reply to  mark smith

It can’t — no money.

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
3 years ago

Best to take the money and run while you can considering it’s coming from a federal government who’s debt has skyrocketed $7 trillion in just two years.

X
X
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

From 9/30/2016 to 9/20/2018, US national debt went up less than $2 trillion dollars. Of course that’s the number reported by the government. What’s your source?

mark smith
mark smith
3 years ago

Hello, Kitty
It can’t — no money.Recommended 1

That’s not true. There is money under every rock. People just have to make it known they want it. To say there is “no money”…is disingenuous. If that were the case, ask a politician…. “Well, what is paying for that road, or that interchange, or that paving project”? There is always free and easy money for bad ideas.

Like this one.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
3 years ago
Reply to  mark smith

Sure. We’ll pay for it with money from under rocks.

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
3 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Look I found a penny!

mark smith
mark smith
3 years ago

Sue Hein, Owner, Rapid Bind, Inc
As the owner of Rapid Bind, Inc. 2728 SE 14th Ave. , I am very much concerned by the plan to build this bridge at the end of our dead-end street. In trying to create a safer crossing of the railroad and light rail tracks, this proposal only moves the danger from one location to another. The two blocks of 14th between Clinton and the dead-end are occupied by several businesses that draw a great deal of truck traffic for pickup and delivery of goods.Rapid Bind has been providing bindery services for local and regional printers in this location since 1984. The products that we convert come to us on pallets of 1000-2000 lbs. The pallets must be unloaded by forklift on 14th. Our neighbor across 14th loads and unloads lumber in the street. There are frequently two forklifts maneuvering heavy loads at the same time. Bicyclists traveling this two block area that leads to the proposed bridge would be at serious risk of injury from moving trucks and forklifts. On a recent day, we had two separate deliveries by 53′ truck, each carrying 22 pallets of paper. Each of those loads required 22 trips out to the street to unload. Our forklift drivers are very cautious but navigating around trucks with bicyclists sharing the street would create unnecessary hazards.Every day we see groups of bicyclists traversing Clinton St. with little regard for vehicle traffic. I can’t imagine those groups traveling our hazardous stretch of road without incident.Recommended 4

Sue, thanks for coming on here. I believe you. Thank you for taking a moment to state that putting this terrible design into a bustling small business area leads to risks for the pedestrians and for the workers. People forget that as a commercial driver, you(the driver) are always at fault if something happens and until the investigation is complete, your license (and livelihood) are gone. And, even having a no fault can preclude you from employment. And regardless, someone is dead or maimed.

In addition, who will pay for the injuries when someone slips on the icy stairs? The elevator will die or will be urinated in.

What a boondoggle.

Chris I
Chris I
3 years ago
Reply to  mark smith

Wow, so we can’t have outdoor stairs now?

It really isn’t hard to carry your bike up a flight of stairs. People do it every day.

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

It’s a bit harder to carry your wheelchair up the stairs.

Chris I
Chris I
3 years ago

It’s also really hard to push your wheelchair up a 80ft ramp. I’m sure many wheelchair users would prefer an elevator.

X
X
3 years ago
Reply to  mark smith

If elevators are used for urination, it’s not a problem with elevators. It means that for some reason there aren’t places where a person can pee, discreetly, unless they either own property or do business in the neighborhood. It’s a social problem, not a bridge design problem.

X
X
3 years ago

Sue Hein, Owner, Rapid Bind, Inc:

“. . . The two blocks of 14th between Clinton and the dead-end are occupied by several businesses that draw a great deal of truck traffic. . .”

Businesses are necessary for the city and have a right to exist but that does not obviate the fact that bicyclists are legitimate street users. They predate private cars, motorized trucks and forklifts capable of moving one ton loads, so those things have necessarily come into being in an accommodation with existing human powered vehicles. It’s radical to assert that motorized things can now displace bikes.

“. . .Every day we see groups of bicyclists traversing Clinton St. with little regard for vehicle traffic. . .”

Every day we see rabbits cropping the grass with little regard for foxes?? A cyclist who moves without regard for motor vehicles is a dead person. It is just not possible on any street in Portland, including those indicated as ‘Greenways.’

“. . .I can’t imagine those groups traveling our hazardous stretch of road without incident. . .”

That is to say, the businesses owners have created a serious hazard? But I disagree. I have ridden my bike on this section of SE 14th hundreds of times without incident. It is not the most dangerous stretch of pavement I see in Portland. I’m on much higher alert in the bike lane on NE Broadway than on the light industrial section of SE 14th.