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

(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.



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
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