Checking in on the carfree Blumenauer Bridge over I-84

The arch pieces were constructed off-site and are now being moved into place.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland/BikePortland)

Drawing of finished product.

By next spring or summer you’ll be able to bike across Interstate 84 on 7th Avenue between the central eastside and the Lloyd: No more snaking onto sidewalks or risking life and limb on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or SE Grand Avenue; no more riding all the way up to NE 12th to get across the freeway.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has been working on the $14 million Congressman Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge for nearly a year now and — judging by a recent visit to the construction site — things are about to get very interesting. As you can see in my photos, the 300-foot arch pipes and steel girders are in place and landings on both sides of the span have been prepped.

The new bridge will stretch 475 feet over Sullivan’s Gulch and will be 24-feet wide. There will be a 10-foot wide sidewalk and 14-foot wide lane in the middle for two-way bicycle, scooter, and other micromobility vehicle users. Each side of the bridge will become plazas that integrate with the street grid.

Here’s what I saw at the site a few days ago:

View of the north landing from the SE Grand Ave overpass.
Another shot of the arch moving into position at the south landing.
View of the southern landing from the north side.

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View looking south across the Gulch from the north landing.
View looking southwest toward the central eastside from an elevated perspective in the Lloyd.
Closer look at the south landing site.
View of the future bridge entrance from the existing bike lane on NE 7th in the Lloyd.

The completion of this bridge will be a game-changer for cycling connectivity between the central eastside and the Lloyd. It will also be an important marquee to signal Portland’s commitment to carfree travel.

And in other exciting bridge news, PBOT just announced that the Gideon Overcrossing is now open! Stay tuned for a full report on that bridge soon.

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

I hadn’t realized the Congressman Earl Blumenauer had passed away. When was this? I could have sworn he was in the news recently related to Biden. Portland is a reasonable community, so they would never be Republican and be so crass as to name a piece of public infrastructure after a live person, would they?

rick
rick
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Didn’t Earl vote to reduce the funding of repaving streets when he was in Portland city council? I thought it is an Oregonlive article.

Sigma
Sigma
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Darlene Hooley and Roy Rogers aren’t dead, either.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Sigma

What in Portland were named after them?

Momo
Momo
2 years ago

I’m guessing most people will end up calling it that, just because it’s easier to say and more intuitive.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago

I’m guessing that over time it will be called either the Lloyd Bike Bridge (for the area) or (much more likely) the I-84 Bike Bridge.

Matt
Matt
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

nice bridge. horrible name.

qqq
qqq
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

It’s not unheard of to name public things after living politicians. In fact Portland already has a street named after President Trump: Second Avenue.

matt savage
matt savage
2 years ago
Reply to  qqq

I thought it was the Failing Bridge…?

Jesse Reade
Jesse Reade
2 years ago
Reply to  qqq

You’re saying that we need a 3rd one after Failing Street and Going Street?

Lynn
Lynn
2 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Reade

Don’t forget Skidmore Street.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  qqq

The Donald Trump Memorial Sewage Treatment Plant

PdxPhoenix
PdxPhoenix
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

No need to insult sewage like that…

Momo
Momo
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

According to City of Portland code, there is a rule that a city street can only be named after someone after they have been deceased for at least five years. There is no such rule for bridges or other infrastructure, only street names. As others have noted, we have other bridges named after living people.

I don’t really have a problem with it, especially because it’s not like Blumenauer got an earmark for it or anything. The bridge was built entirely with City of Portland funding, and the name is just a way to honor a long-standing local leader who has championed bicycle transportation.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Momo

There’s a group in East Portland trying to get 122nd renamed after David Douglas, but the same city ordinance doesn’t allow any more streets to be named after foreigners (Douglas was Scottish.)

Paul
Paul
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Maybe we can name a tree after him.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Can we pleeeeease stop naming numbered streets? The numbered street grid is one of the best features of east Portland. 39th will always be 39th to me.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

Ah yes, living in The Numbers District, as opposed to the Alphabet District of NW Portland.

maccoinnich
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

For what it’s worth I don’t see that in the city code:

A. Any individual or organization may apply to the City to rename a City street. City streets may only be renamed after a prominent person. Such prominent person must be:

1. a person who has achieved prominence as a result of his or her significant, positive contribution to the United States of America and/or the local community;
2. a real person; and
3. a person who has been deceased for at least five years.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

It looks like the city dropped the requirement of only naming streets after Americans, as David Douglas certainly had a big impact in botany identification in the Northwest, and 122nd meets all the other city criteria. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Douglas_(botanist)

erd
erd
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

there is a Douglas Street in SW by the old YMCA, but it’s not clear if its named after the great botanist.

erd
erd
2 years ago
Reply to  Momo

Well said. Also, keep in mind that this structure isn’t a city street – it’s a bike/ped path. Same thing goes for vera and the esplanade and hooley and the bridge.

FDUP
FDUP
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

They named the Esplanade for Vera before she was gone too. Is there going to be a statue of Earl as well?

Zach Reyes
Zach Reyes
2 years ago

Very exciting photos Jonathon! I am also very happy with the reduced traffic speeds on NE Lloyd Blvd as of late. Is PBOT planning on reducing the number of traffic lanes after construction is complete? Can’t tell you how many times I have seen reckless car drivers speed through that street (and red light!); it’s very dangerous to cross as a biker or pedestrian.

maccoinnich
2 years ago
Reply to  Zach Reyes

Yes, they’ll be keeping the road diet in place after construction. Eventually there will be a 2-way bike on the south side of Lloyd Blvd, connecting the Blumenauer Bridge to the Steel Bridge. That’s part of Central City in Motion, but I don’t think it’s going to happen by the time the bridge opens. Had the regional transportation measure passed there would have been funding to then extend that 2-way path north on Interstate as the southern portion of the North Portland Greenway.

maccoinnich
2 years ago

I’m so excited for this to open.

There’s a proposal to convert to NE 7th Ave in the Lloyd District one way for cars, with the east side of the street converted into a two-way bike lane. It was even shown in the renderings for some recently approved buildings. It could be built relatively cheaply using paint, with a robust implementation to come later. It’s not clear to me though whether that’s moving ahead or not. If this is happening I hope they decide to move forward soon, because it alters the design for the bridge landing at 7th/Lloyd.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

Who was responsible for the renderings and the inclusion of the cycletrack on 7th? With the installation of the bridge, and the expected increase of cyclists on that street, it would make a lot of sense to get that in prior to the bridge completion.

maccoinnich
2 years ago
Reply to  Eawriste

The renderings I linked to were produced by the architecture firm working on the office development. The concept they’re showing is PBOT’s though.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

Nice. Seems unusual for an architectural firm to include a proposed street design.

Whyat Lee
Whyat Lee
2 years ago

I haven’t found much to be excited about this year. This is exciting.

rick
rick
2 years ago
Reply to  Whyat Lee

Go for a ride on a Celilo Cycles wood frame bike

BikeSlobPDX
BikeSlobPDX
2 years ago
Reply to  Whyat Lee

Well we did get the Idaho Stop on January 1st.

I would love to hear more updates on the north-sou
I would love to hear more updates on the north-sou
2 years ago

I would love to hear more updates on the north-south greenways leading to this new fantastic bridge.

ChadwickF
ChadwickF
2 years ago

I too, am curious about this. Especially the southern portion. Will it eventually line up with SE 7th after the curve near SE Washington?Will the landings on the south side line up to 7th or 8th?
I looked through the provided information and couldn’t find anything, but perhaps I missed it.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  ChadwickF

The Green Loop concept has been around for a long time, waiting for someone in the council to build.

maccoinnich
2 years ago
Reply to  ChadwickF

The proposal in Central City in Motion is to have protected bike lanes on 7th Ave south of SE Washington. Between SE Washington and NE Flanders there’s only sharrows proposed. That doesn’t feel very platinumy to me, but I guess I could see pressure building to upgrade that once the southern section of SE 7th is built out.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

Here is the design for E 7th. An “Enhanced crossing” is proposed for 7th and Stark, which may or may not mean a divertor. Otherwise there does not appear to be any substantive infrastructure changes for 7th north of its intersection with Sandy as maccoinnich pointed out. Certainly a poor design where a lot of cyclists are expected to ride.

I should also add there are no indications that PBoT will use protected intersections in their design on 7th, something that is integral to safe PBL design.

maxD
maxD
2 years ago

I second this: any updates on the route north and south of the bridge?

X
X
2 years ago

This bridge will “be a game-changer for cycling connectivity”, activating a N-S route through the inner E side and releasing pent-up demand for bike and pedestrian travel routes. The cost is 2 percent of the projected bill for the Rose Quarter freeway widening project. That’s right, for the same money we could fix fifty travel gaps, deadly intersections, pedestrian quagmires, transit time-sucks…fifty or perhaps more.

What are the top 100 sketchy places for people outside of a car in the Portland city limits?

rick
rick
2 years ago
Reply to  X

SW Scholls Ferry Road and also Skyline Boulevard in the Bridlemile, SWHRL, and West Hills neighborhoods.

 
 
2 years ago
Reply to  rick

I’ll ride just about anywhere. With the exception of that stretch of Scholls Ferry. You’d have to have a death wish to ride, walke, or run there right now, plus there’s no somehow no TriMet service on that road. It’s also the only route for miles in each direction. If there’s one street in Southwest that should be the highest priority, this is it.

rick
rick
2 years ago
Reply to   

Multnomah County made a Scholls Ferry Road concept plan in 2009 that floated a road diet but nothing has been funded. It is a fun ride going downhill on Memorial Day when car traffic is light in the early morning. Washington County has had requests for a sidewalk between Parr Lumber and Hamilton Street. Both counties should work together on that issue.

 
 
2 years ago
Reply to  rick

Easy fix: convert one of the uphill lanes to a two-way sidewalk/cycletrack, and re-route the 56 bus from B-H Hwy (which will remain served by the 54) onto Scholls Ferry, up to Sylvan, over to the zoo, and into downtown. Problem solved immediately. Considering there’s never any delays going downhill which only has one lane, and there’s never really any truck traffic, I find it hard to believe that the road needs two lanes uphill.

Why the county/city hasn’t done this yet is beyond me.

rick
rick
2 years ago
Reply to   

Multnomah County has a ranking system and it has many factors. Somehow, Multnomah’s section of Scholls doesn’t rank highly even though the county will soon work on 238th Drive in Wood Village, Oregon and add another car lane. Bus 56 needs to be rerouted. ODOT could carve away more earth from the shoulder of Highway 26 between the Scholls overpass and the Jefferson Street exit in order to make a future bus-on-shoulder project like WSDOT has had for some time.

 
 
2 years ago
Reply to  rick

Agreed on all points. Hopefully if they do widen the shoulder they also add a bike path as well; it’s currently a massive gap in the network between the zoo and Jefferson St (the current detour through the park is significantly out of the way).

Jesse Reade
Jesse Reade
2 years ago
Reply to  X

Arch Bridge in Oregon City

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  X

Inside City Hall

maxD
maxD
2 years ago
Reply to  X

St Johns Bridge!
Skidmore between N Michigan and NE 7th
Interstate Ave from Kenton to the Steel Bridge

EEE
EEE
2 years ago
Reply to  X

Technically outside Portland city limits but not far: NE 201st between the I84 MUP and Halsey (i.e., the terminus of the Gresham-Fairview trail).

qqq
qqq
2 years ago

The bridge is great. One thing about projects like this–many aren’t creating new routes for biking and walking so much as replacing ones taken away decades ago by road projects that removed biking and walking routes, and should have included things like this but didn’t. Portland could spend at least hundreds of millions just getting safe walking and biking options back to what they once were before freeways and highways destroyed them.

Scott Kocher
2 years ago

This is cool. It is also a reminder of the difference between ped/bike infrastructure and infrastructure that is only necessary to mitigate a city’s safety and access problems created by fast cars. It is like the Barbara Walker Crossing over W Burnside for the Wildwood Trail. It is car mitigation infrastructure. And it is better than having I-84 without it.