PBOT moves forward with I-205 path undercrossing project

Posted by on April 2nd, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Proposed alignment in red. (Graphic: PBOT)

“The sooner this happens, the better. This crossing is currently a major obstacle to even the most dedicated bike commuter.”
— Carl Alviani

At their meeting tomorrow, Portland City Council will formally accept a $1.68 million grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation for the I-205 Undercrossing project.

This project is a key link to several projects in east Portland and will help create access to the bike park at Gateway Green as well existing and future neighborhood greenways, paths, and bikeways. The proposed project will create the first section of the long-awaited Sullivan’s Gulch path. It will build a new path connecting the I-205 path at Gateway Green on the east side of 205 to NE Hancock Drive on the west side of the freeway. The plan is to go under the I-84 westbound on-ramp and use a mix of railroad and vacant ODOT highway right-of-way.

Once complete, this new, 0.4-mile long path will also connect the Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway on the west side of I-205 with the forthcoming Tillamook-Holladay-Oregon-Pacific (T-HOP) Neighborhood Greenway which is scheduled to begin construction this summer. A safer crossing of I-205 will also help connect to PBOT’s Gateway to Opportunity project on the Halsey/Weidler corridor.

The new undercrossing will also provide much-needed access to Gateway Green bike park. Currently, people coming from the west are forced onto the sidewalk of the NE Halsey overpass and then faced with crossing the arterial and riding through large parking lots to get to the I-205 path.

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Current eastbound bike route puts you up on a sidewalk opposing traffic on NE Halsey overpass.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“The sooner this happens, the better,” wrote Carl Alviani in a comment submitted to ODOT in support of the project, “this crossing is currently a major obstacle to even the most dedicated bike commuter, and fixing it a crucial pre-condition for a working Sullivan’s Gulch multi-use path. You want people to get out of their cars and off I-84 for their morning commute? Give them a straight shot into the city on their bikes, without having to worry about getting run over while crossing the street.”

Cassie Capone commented that she is, “Thrilled about this project!” and that it’s a necessary component to safe access to and from Gateway. “Crossing the Halsey Bridge over 205 on a bike is unsafe and stressful and the alternatives are significantly out of the way.”

In 2015 we reported that this was one of the top five priorities of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee. We also shared an close-up view of where it will go on a June 2016 bike tour with East Portland Action Plan’s Bike Committee.

With this grant funding in hand, PBOT will begin the public involvement and design/engineering phase of the project. Construction is slated to begin in 2021.

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

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58 Comments
  • Avatar
    random April 2, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    The primary function of this $1.68 million project will be to allow the homeless to get out of the rain.

    Any reason why this won’t end up like the I-205 MUP underpass under Sandy Boulevard?

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      Glenn the 2nd April 2, 2019 at 4:20 pm

      I was gonna be slightly more “clever” (according to me) about it like “FINALLY somebody’s building affordable transitional housing for the homeless,” but, yeah. Still it shows the non-car’d have at least a non-zero amount of clout.

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      Chris I April 3, 2019 at 8:18 am

      They have done a pretty good job of keeping Gateway Green clear. If this path gets enough use, it should remain clear and safe. It absolutely must be a City priority, given how critical this access point will be.

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        Champs April 3, 2019 at 9:09 am

        necessity ≠ certainty

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          X April 7, 2019 at 6:57 pm

          The more bike infrastructure resembles a connected network, the fewer people will be camping on it, because more folks will be biking on it. Nobody wants a paceline in their vestibule. People sleeping rough might make different choices than people who write apps or whatnot, but that doesn’t mean they can’t figure stuff out.

          If I say cancel this project because campers, I’m also saying thanks it’s OK for me to cartop 40 miles to take a bike ride.

          The project does seem to stop a little short of the East side of I-205. For some people it works OK to drop down to Gateway but what if you’re headed out to 181st and Halsey? A person in Portland who has to bike 12 miles will go 15 or 16 if they take a greenway.

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        jeff April 3, 2019 at 3:29 pm

        oh, you must be new to town.

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    Bobcycle April 2, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Long overdue. I didn’t even know this was in the works. A big plus for Gateway Green access. Can’t wait.

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    MJ April 2, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    The post says its an ODOT grant, but does anyone know what source of funds they came from? Was there a competitive selection process the ODOT had?

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      David Hampsten April 2, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      According to the latest May 2018 EPIM update chart pdf: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/593199
      “T-4 Sullivan’s Gulch Trail: 82nd – I-205 MUP – $3,377,000 – Funded 2015-16 – Part of T-HOP Submittal for ODOT STIP Enhance grant.”
      The higher figure presumably includes funding for the HOP, which in fact will be paid for with Fixing Our Streets city gas tax funds.

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    David Raboin April 2, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    I live in Hollywood and transitioning across 205 has always been a pain. This will be a major improvement. When my kids are just a touch older they’ll be able to ride to Gateway Green by themselves. This is a win for every 13-year-old in my part of town. I can imagine this will be super helpful for commuters who live east of 205. Now, if only they could figure out a way to remove that dogleg on 82nd…

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    Adam April 2, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Am I the only one who sees this becoming just another trash and tent filled tunnel for the homeless?

    I thought underpasses were from a by gone era of terrible 1970s planning where safety, or hell, people, were of little concern to planners.

    I’m not being judgemental, as much as I am just being observant based on other underpasses in the city I run and bike through (SE Powell & 17th; I-205 & Marine Drive etc).

    What assurances have we from whoever is designing this that it will be functional and safe?

    Why was this chosen over a bridge?

    Finally, has anyone else seen the horrific murderived scenes from the awesome French show “Les Revenants”?

    If you haven’t, you might not want to watch it before going through this, or any, underpass. Ever again!!

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      Toby Keith April 2, 2019 at 9:23 pm

      Ha, no thanks the 205 MUP under Sandy Blvd. is hell enough.

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      Chris I April 3, 2019 at 8:20 am

      An overpass would have to be quite high here (see steep grade and height of Halsey overpass), to clear I-205 and the light rail line. Less of a problem on the west side, but definitely a problem on the east side. It would likely have doubled or tripled the cost.

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        B. Carfree April 3, 2019 at 9:30 am

        Is it not better to pay three times as much for something that works as opposed to a bargain on something that is called bike infrastructure, but doesn’t function as such much of the time?

        Decades ago, my commute involved a bike path that was underwater during non-drought winters. I’m talking really underwater, as in the levee gates were opened and the path was fifteen feet below the surface. Obviously, that wasn’t the best situation when my alternative was the shoulder of a freeway (always a tailwind 🙂 ). Eventually the path was put on the elevated freeway so it could be available year round. That cost some money, but when I visit the area I always see people riding on it whereas I was one of three who used that route “back in the day”.

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      Mark Allyn April 3, 2019 at 11:11 pm

      Closed circuit TV surveillance under the overpass?

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        Lester Burnham April 4, 2019 at 8:12 am

        So the assaults can be recorded?

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      Brahman April 6, 2019 at 12:05 am

      Rode the underpass at Powell and 17th just today and it’s almost impassable due to homeless camping and garbage piles.

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    Momo April 2, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Just so people know, this project also includes sidewalks and bike lanes on NE 92nd Ave from Tillamook to Halsey, to help people get to the path.

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    Merlin April 2, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    Interesting. I ride over the Halsey bridge each way almost every Monday. Also cross the arterial into the big parking lot/retail area. Never had any issues.
    I’ll admit this will make the trip easier but I’m having a hard time justifying the price tag.
    Is this really the best use of the $$$?

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      David Hampsten April 2, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      Well, I know your not going to like this answer, but…

      Typically these funds are used for two main purposes, bike paths (aka multi-use paths) and highway rest stops. Now if you can think of a better path to build, then all power to you. But IMO, I’d rather risk the homeless camps than give it to some welcome center in the Dalles.

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      Champs April 3, 2019 at 7:00 am

      I hardly ever ride there and it has been a problem. An underpass isn’t the solution, though.

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      Chris I April 3, 2019 at 8:23 am

      Have you encountered other pedestrians or cyclists going the other way, requiring you to shift over into the gravel-covered edge of the sidewalk next to 50mph truck traffic on the Halsey overpass? Do you enjoy huffing up the steep grade eastbound with high-speed, pollution-spewing traffic just inches to your right? Plus, the Halsey overpass doesn’t get you access to Gateway green. This underpass will connect a huge portion of NE Portland with the park, and provide a better option for those wanting to ride from Parkrose into downtown.

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        Lester Burnham April 4, 2019 at 1:12 pm

        Oh man that Halsey overpass is something I always dread big time. I’m always worried somebody is going to hop the curb and take me out. No real good alternatives for getting out of that part of town via bike unfortunately.

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      Wylie April 3, 2019 at 9:14 am

      If only one person dies as a result of the unsafe road infrastructure forcing them onto Halsey and into a collision with a car, that’s a loss of over a million dollars at least in economic output from that individual. So yes, it’s worth it.

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    chris April 2, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    What’s the point? It will be completely impassable within a month due to tents sand trash.

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    Granpa April 2, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    The fragrance will sear your nostrils and your eyes will water, but just by walking through that tunnel of ammonia vapors your whites will come out whiter!

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    Toby Keith April 2, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    I love the concept…but we have a lot of homeless troubles out here. If they can keep it from being another disaster like the 205 MUP then great, otherwise I’ll keep humping it over the Halsey overpass to get out of Parkrose. Portland seems incapable or unwilling to deal with the camping problem so again why invest in more unsafe infrastructure?

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    Douglas Kelso April 2, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Glad to see this is finally happening. I’ve been wanting this connection since the 1990s.

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    terrabiketours April 3, 2019 at 1:48 am

    Anything that is an investment for bicycle mobility is welcome. Promoting sustainable mobility is the future.

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    Barbara April 3, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Seems like a nice idea. I’ve been using that North sidewalk for over 35 yrs. Glad to know sidewalks on 92 will be included.
    But as others said immediately become place for homeless. Has anyone looked over the Sidewalk. I was shocked to see how many tents & appalling amount of trash, carts tucked under overpass & on the hillside own to the fence of the storage place. Out of sight from cars. As long as the railroad tracks area & ODOT property are accessible this will just encourage more of them to move here. So sad & disappointing.

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    Gadfly April 3, 2019 at 9:34 am

    So they are building homes for the homeless after all.

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    BradWagon April 3, 2019 at 9:54 am

    How do you get to/from this on the East? Say you’re riding on/going to Halsey/Weilder do you take 205 path south and go around shopping center/through transit center? That’s a mile to get from where this connects to 205 path back up to Halsey and 102nd… in order to travel a quarter mile as the crow flies. I imagine most heading West would continue to just use Halsey sidewalk.

    Obvious solution here is just making Halsey one auto/one active lane each direction. But since that’s like suggesting the sacrifice of a first born to most folks the actual “best” route would be this underpass plus a bike/ped bridge from the end of the Weilder (via 100th) over freeway directly to 205 path.

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      Chris I April 3, 2019 at 10:07 am

      The City is going to do something similar on the Halsey overpass. For those heading west on Halsey from outer-east Portland, this new underpass won’t help you, unless you are trying to get to Gateway Green. It will definitely be an option for people in Parkrose who don’t want to share the road with cars on Prescott or Sandy.

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    SERider April 3, 2019 at 9:54 am

    I might be misremembering, but I thought there were plans at one point to make the path just go straight under 205 from Hancock and right into Gateway Green?
    Does anyone else remember that?
    That type of tunnel would likely be a lot more expensive though.

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      Bjorn April 3, 2019 at 3:12 pm

      I also remember a suggestion that was more like what you are describing, one which also might more directly connect gateway green to additional park space on the west side of the 205… The layout of this underpass does seem like a rather roundabout way to go from Hancock to the Park.

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      Bob April 3, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      I saw a drawing of that as well, I think it was the on the original drawing of the Gateway Green. It would have been a long dark tunnel if they did that and could equally attract homeless, but I agree it would have made access much better not only to the Gateway Green but to the 1-205 mup.

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    Lester Burnham April 3, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Improvements for the east side always come so late and seem so half-baked.

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    jered April 3, 2019 at 10:32 am

    GATEWAY GREEN ACCESS – YESSSSSS.

    Though looking at the route I already go that way… cut through the fence and around the tracks under the highway – way less sketchy than Halsey.

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    Bob April 3, 2019 at 11:05 am

    I’ve walked the proposed route from the Gateway Green underneath the Halsey overpass, down alongside the railway track and underneath 1-205, yes, dodging garbage and homeless camps. There is a huge amount of covered space underneath 1-205 and sad to say it will be quite a task to keep it clear of the homeless. They have, however, managed to keep the homeless out of the Gateway Green, but there are usually people camping around the Gateway transit center. If the homeless persist in camping in this area, I too, will continue to hump over the Halsey overpass on the sidewalk on the north and cut through the parking lot to the 1-205 mup. As I ride this area often I have also resorted to detouring around the Sandy Blvd mup underpass to avoid the campers there.

    Whatever happened to the plan to put a two-way bike lane on the Halsey street overpass? Is this still in the works? Would this plan be better than the underpass?

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    JP April 3, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    I live in Parkrose Heights, commute to work (by bike) in Irvington, and hate this project! Don’t get me wrong; improved access for Gateway Green is important and deserved, but the underpass only improves access for people coming from west of 205. I think it’s telling that access both to the Tillamook greenway and to Gateway Green for people coming from east of 205 is not addressed at all by the underpass if built as planned. The message to East Portlanders remains clear: your needs are less important than those of people who live west of you.

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      Bryan April 3, 2019 at 3:38 pm

      I agree. Please consider the east side access.

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      Lester Burnham April 4, 2019 at 8:14 am

      JP, you do recall Eudaly did some photo ops on 122nd? Hey that’s something at least!

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      Chris I April 4, 2019 at 10:19 am

      The Rocky Butte/Cully area is just as impoverished as Parkrose, and is also “east Portland”. This project is a huge access improvement for NE Portland.

      For your commute, the changes coming to the Halsey overpass should improve things greatly.

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        JP April 5, 2019 at 1:44 pm

        I’m well aware of how things are in Cully and other NE neighborhoods; I lived in Sumner up until this year. While Cully, Sumner, Parkrose, etc. certainly have challenges, they are all much, much, much more accessible by bike than Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Gateway, etc. Like I said, improvements to GG access are important and necessary, but it’s frustrating to see a relatively big bike infra project that only benefits people coming from one direction.

        As for the Halsey overpass improvements you mention, I haven’t heard of those. Can you please provide a source?

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    Bryan Joseph April 3, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Might be better with more access points to the i-205 path. Would be nice if you could get on the path without having to go down to the max station.

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    Jason E Start April 4, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Lots of sad commentary on this subject. I honestly wish I could object to the gloomy feeling about how this project works out, but I can’t. When I first heard of the Gulch trail it seemed like one of the best ideas ever. Now it’s hard to not envision it as a sad highway of the homeless – just with fresh asphalt and stripes. I was so pumped a few years back when they built the 205 trail “underpass” under Division. The concept, to me, was awesome and showed that there was a willingness to commit to continued improvements to imperfect MUP’s. How exciting! Just eliminating 1 pesky major street crossing made my commute measurably safer and faster! Jonathan’s coverage of the project was great & when when completed the results were as advertised. Within a mere two years the project morphed to a homeless resided side-spur literally covered with glass. Brave enough to plow through? You’d better have some tire liners. How will this be different? It won’t without change. Our MUP’s need the same protections as our streets and sidewalks – if not it may be safer sticking to the streets.

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    William Thomas April 4, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Upgrading the MUP without addressing the homeless/drug dependent people is a waste of $$$. A bike path that is covered with glass and debris is less safe than a city street. I live along the 205 MUP and it’s an unsafe wasteland.

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    Ron Swaren April 4, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Can’t wait for Elon Musk’s Boring Company to go mainstream—and hopefully the costs will come down even further once anew method is established.. It should not be hard to bore a pedestrian or bicycle tunnel. Maybe14 feet diameter?

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      Dan A April 4, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      Is that wide enough to accommodate tents plus a two-way cycletrack?

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      Chris I April 5, 2019 at 8:01 am

      Uhh… You might want to look into that again. The company has been a complete failure so far. They haven’t reduced tunneling costs at all, and they’ve only succeeded in building a cramped, bumpy short tunnel for a small SUV.

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    sswannab April 4, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    That’s great they’re adding another connector to the 205 path but wish PBOT instead of ODOT had control over the connector crossing at NE Sandy Blvd and NE Killingsworth where all paths lead heading north.

    Cars turning off Killingsworth eastbound do not yield the crosswalk thinking we’re using it illegally (which has been yelled at me many a time) aside from trying to approach it via Sandy eastbound which is another story since they put 3 lanes eastbound.

    One can dream ODOT will step up as PBOT has….

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    grannygear April 4, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Put this money toward existing path maintenance and addiction help for the cutty folks already living on/just off the path. If sharing the road is the price I must pay for tax paying path users, then so be it. This short cut is not a key to access, it just temporarily nerfs the reality of commuting by bike on our plentiful existing roads.

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    Jim Couch April 6, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Complete waste of money. With no funds to clean or maintain these facilities they rapidly become unusable. The Maywood Park portion of the 205 bike path was actually repaired this fall, but the Northern section has had garbage and numerous bags of yard waste dumped on it for months!

    Until we are willing and able to fund cleanup, maintenance, and provide better places for the homeless to live we should not be building more facilities that cyclists will not feel safe using.

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    Fat Tire April 7, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    I live in Madison South and use the underpass to access Gateway Green. I always check my tires for needles, coming and going. It seems like a waste of funds to make the path join up to Hancock St. Just connect it to Halsey St Frontage Rd and use the light on Halsey and 92nd. I share other’s concerns that the proposed path will just mean more junkies, trash and tents.

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    Keith April 8, 2019 at 1:37 am

    Momo
    Just so people know, this project also includes sidewalks and bike lanes on NE 92nd Ave from Tillamook to Halsey, to help people get to the path.Recommended 10

    What about sidewalks for NE Hancock Dr? It’s a narrow residential street with a fair amount of cars parked on the street. There are currently sidewalks on NE 92nd on the west side of 92nd, but not on the east side of the street on the stretch from Tillamook to Halsey.

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    X April 8, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Every link that gets built makes the bike route network (?) easier to use. Ease of use means more riders. More riders on the path mean less campers.

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