Support BikePortland

PBOT defends bike lane, says federal wall on SW Main is illegal and must be removed

Posted by on July 23rd, 2020 at 5:49 pm

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation says a metal fence and concrete barriers installed around the Federal Courthouse yesterday are illegal and they’ve sent a cease and desist letter to the United States General Services Administration demanding that it be removed.

As we reported Wednesday, the unpermitted fence blocks an entire lane on Southwest Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue — a section PBOT said in a statement is, “One of the busiest bike routes in the United States.”

“The City Attorney’s Office offered legal guidance that the installation blocking the bike lane and other parts of the public right of way are violations of City Code and Transportation Administrative Rules designed to protect the safety of the traveling public,” a PBOT statement said.

In a letter (below) from Chief Deputy City Attorney Robert Taylor to Roy Atwood, Region 10 Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration, PBOT threatens legal action, fines, and “other remedies” if the fence is not removed.

Advertisement

pbot-director-warner-to-gsa-region-10-administrator-atwood-2020-07-23

Here’s more from PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly:

“This fence was constructed without permission or permits on public property, and it is both an abuse of public space and a threat to the traveling public. This illegal action will not be tolerated in our community. In Portland, we use our streets for access to jobs and housing, and as places for Portlanders to gather and celebrate our shared values. Sometimes, we use our streets to speak truth to powerful government officials. It is shameful that unnamed, unannounced federal agents would illegally erect a wall to hide from the people they are sworn to serve, and I have instructed PBOT to closely monitor the federal occupiers’ actions for additional violations.”

According to PBOT the fence as it currently stands on SW Main constitutes a Class I violation of Portland’s Transportation Administrative Rules regarding use of public right-of-way. The fencing on SW 3rd that only partially obstructs travel lanes is a Class III violation.

PBOT Director Chris Warner said in a statement that, “Portlanders have built and maintained one of the largest networks of bike lanes in the nation. We maintain our bike lanes every day, and we will defend them as needed.”

Here’s the text of the letter to Atwood:

Dear Mr. Atwood:

Unidentified contractors have installed fencing and concrete barriers illegally in the City of Portland’s Right of Way on the streets surrounding the Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland. The structures are both unpermitted and represent a hazard to the traveling public, particularly along SW Main, which is a major bicycle corridor into the central business district. The structure completely obstructs the bike lane and needs to be removed promptly.

Failure to remove will constitute a Class I violation of City Code and Transportation Administrative Rules designed to protect the safety of the traveling public and will be subject to fines and potential legal action.

According to a story published today by the Oregon Public Broadcasting, federal authorities plan to keep the fence up until at least 2021 and sees it as “crucial to its presence in Portland”.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

22
Leave a Reply

avatar
10 Comment threads
12 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
RudiVdraw2build architectureADMdrsX Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
K'Tesh
Guest

With what I’ve seen from tASS’s Jack Booted Thugs, I’m sure the response will be something along an extended middle finger from them.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Any reason why PBOT can’t just dispatch road crews with dump-trucks to remove the fence during business hours? It’s discarded garbage on a public ROW.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

One step at a time: PBOT has sent its letter, now the GSA needs to respond (give it 4 weeks), then PBOT sends a response to that, and so on. Eventually PBOT will consult various public bodies for input, then create a plan, then hold an open house, apply for a federal grant through ODOT, then maybe by 2025 implement the plan.

What steps did I forget?

zoobomb
Guest

It gets removed every night. We don’t need PBOT for that.

Racer X
Guest
Racer X

“The fencing on SW 3rd that only partially obstructs travel lanes is a Class III violation.” So does this mean that IF it FULLY obstructed the bike lane it would be OK?!

[Like a lot of other daily bike lane blocking that seems to go unpunished across the City. Don’t get me wrong…this is a good trend…we just need more than 1 data point for a trend to make.]

PS. Does anyone know the contractor that installed the wall…that might be another way of nipping this ‘s.hit’ in the bud…as they may be licensed in the state and bonded.

Allan Rudwick
Guest
Allan Rudwick

Maybe we can raise the fines for blocking a bike lane without a permit to like $100k/day or something so we can raise some money for more infrastructure

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

Great but not great.

Typical well-meaning “concerned” liberal response: slow and ponderous bureaucratic inaction.

We have to think like the enemy. If the shoe was on the other foot, they would have backhoes and dump trucks lined up in hours not days or weeks. Cloaking this under the banner of saving the bike lanes is ridiculous. You think the GSA or Homeland Security cares about bike lanes, fines or legal action? Just go in there and remove the GD fence and ask questions later, the same as if anyone else illegally installed a fence in the middle of a city street.

The streets belong to the people and the people speak through their elected local government. Grow some balls… or whatever!

qqq
Guest
qqq

Good points. The other issue about bringing up bike lanes is it makes it look like Portland needs a functional justification for telling them to move the fence. I can see reasons why they mentioned them, but really, the letter could have said, “Move the fences because we said so”.

Bobcycle
Guest
Bobcycle

“Portlanders have built and maintained one of the largest networks of bike lanes in the nation. We maintain our bike lanes every day, and we will defend them as needed.”
Glad to hear this. I was unable to use the downtown bike lane due to the Fed Fence. Also have been unable to use I205 bike path due to a camp set up on the bike path between Sandy and Airport Way. Also hear that bike lanes on NE 33rd are partially blocked but I’ve not been out there for a while.

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

Totally agree. I have also had to stop using the 205 bike path same place. I now have to cross NE Columbia ~ 92 avoid it. NOT SAFE especially as alone woman. 33 is pretty bad as well. Just don’t understand why it’s been acceptable for those occupying it to have more protected rights than my use of it. The garbage along with with the chop shop with bike parts everywhere. Last time I could here the battery powered saws going. My husband is so fed up with PDX he wants to move out. Why continue living here when downtown ruined, homeless everywhere, so much theft in our NE neighborhood and repeated increase of taxes for property owners to cover everybody else pet programs.
So disappointing.

drs
Guest
drs

Where was the response from PBOT when the Multnomah County Courthouse construction project obstructed the bike lane of SW Jefferson for over a year? Where was the response from PBOT when the Addidas corporate office construction project obstructed bike lanes on N Greeley for over a year?

I appreciate that PBOT is pushing back in this instance, but I find it highly frustrating that they allow construction projects to infringe upon or even completely close bike lanes on designated bikeways when their permits often do not give them explicit permission to close or even encroach on bike lanes.

EEE
Guest
EEE

Ironically, even when the construction is a bike/pedestrian bridge. Since the closing off of lanes of eastbound NE Lloyd between Grand and NE 11th for this multi-year project, the temporary bike lanes have been routinely obstructed at some point along the way (including currently) — with the obstructions changing almost daily. Sometimes its the fence repositioned incorrectly as contractors exit, sometimes traffic warning signs positioned squarely in the bike lane, sometimes its cones, sometimes project debris. There is also a car (associated with the large camp at Grand/Lloyd) often parked and blocking the lane right at the beginning. In each instance, the obstructions force dangerous merges with 40 mph traffic.

drs
Guest
drs

So frustrating. If it was a blocked vehicle lane, there would be flaggers. If the bike lane is blocked, tough cookies. Maybe they’ll put up a sign to warn you. Maybe not.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Answer: nowhere to be found. developers are above the law in PDX when it comes to stealing public right of way.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Construction projects probably fill out requisite paperwork and get the necessary permits to do so. This particular instance there is no filed paperwork.

drs
Guest
drs

Courthouse project definitely did not have permission or requisite permits to close the bike lane, they just gradually expanded the area that was covered by their fencing and Jersey barriers without seeing additional permits. The Adidas project may have had the correct permits, but it’s difficult to tell. That information is not generally made public, so it can be hard to report violations when people notice a sudden and radical shift in construction-related street closures. Adidas certainly said in public meetings that at no time would there be any closures of bike lanes, but that there would be periodic vehicle lane closures. They went ahead and closed bicycle lanes anyway, and it’s difficult to tell if the received permission

Tom2
Guest
Tom2

Is an open records request needed to identify the contractor who put up fence?

qqq
Guest
qqq

That’s not a bad idea to find that out. Whoever erected it has some responsibility. They erected it without required permits (building permit for fence over 7’and PBOT permit for working in the street). Fine them for those. Since it’s over 7′, it was required to be approved by an Oregon-registered engineer. Fine them for not doing that. They worked in the street. Fine them for OSHA and PBOT violations for not having flaggers, blocking lanes, etc.

Have them explain why they think they’re above meeting regulations that protect their workers and the public.

X
Guest
X

All the feds have to do is call it a construction site. It’s like a baseball player who is safe at second and sees Nobody covering third.

ADM
Guest
ADM

This seems very……. desperate.

draw2build architecture
Member

What is the latest on this? I haven’t been watching the media lately.

RudiV
Guest
RudiV

The city doesn’t seem to have a problem blocking the eastbound bike lane at Rosa Parks and MLK for their endless “low income” project there. That thing has been under construction, blocking the lane, since before the Rosa Parks bike lane existed. 2 or 3 years now. Private contractors have build dozens of buildings twice the size in the same time span.