BikePortland

Opposition overcome, TriMet will break ground on Gideon Overcrossing this spring


(Source: TriMet)

TriMet announced today they’ve overcome opposition from business owners and have received a green light to break ground on their $15 million Gideon Street overcrossing project.

“TriMet and the City of Portland have elected to move forward with a design that places the structure entirely in existing public right-of-way.”
— TriMet

The bridge will create a new, carfree connection between the SE Clinton/12th Avenue MAX light rail station along Gideon Street and SE 14th Avenue. Initially proposed as part of the Orange MAX Line project, it was delayed due to budget cuts.

The project was announced in June 2017 as a way to give bicycle riders, walkers, and people with personal mobility devices a car and train-free alternative to crossing at the stressful, at-grade SE 12th/Milwaukie/Clinton intersections. The project also ran into unexpectedly strong opposition from business owners on the north side of the proposed bridge.

Michael Koerner owns Koerner Camera Systems which has a parking lot and truck delivery bays just yards from where the overcrossing will land. As we reported in December, Koerner organized other industrial business owners along 14th and SE Taggart Street and retained a lawyer to formally oppose the project. Koerner and his supporters said the increase in traffic volume the overcrossing will create a safety risk and that changes to truck access would hurt bottom lines. Koerner in particular was concerned that the project as initially proposed would encroach on a small portion of his existing parking lot.

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Image filed with FTA by Michael Koerner’s lawyer showing how the initial design of the bridge (green) would encroach on his parking lot.

Koerner’s lawyer penned a letter to the Federal Transit Administration requesting further study and asking for the overcrossing be moved to a different location. TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (who will own and operate the bridge once it’s built) disagreed.

In their statement released this morning, TriMet says they met with FTA officials last week and plan to construct the project this spring. TriMet also addressed concerns raised by nearby business owners.

The agency did a traffic count and found that about 325 motorized vehicles use SE 14th Avenue each day and that only about 2 percent of them are trucks with trailers. TriMet also revealed they met with “representatives from the business community” and explored design changes that would have no impact on private property. “The FTA, TriMet and the City of Portland have elected to move forward with a design that places the structure entirely in existing public right-of-way,” reads the statement.

We’ve asked Koerner for his response and will update this post when/if we hear back.

TriMet expects to begin construction this spring and finish the new overcrossing in spring 2020. For more information, see the official project page.

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

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