The N Greeley bikeway project is tantalizingly close to being finished. About a week ago I rode a new section of the separated bike path that begins south of North Willamette Blvd. As you can see in the photos, it’s very nice.
Anticipation of this new connection between the popular Willamette Boulevard neighborhood greenway and the bike lanes on North Interstate Avenue, is high. It’s not often we get 1.5 miles of uninterrupted, physically protected bike lanes on a major north-south route that connects neighborhoods to the central city.
I’ve made a habit of checking progress. The newest section to be completed is a two-way path between Willamette and Emerson. Not only is it raised and separated by a curb, but there’s also a planter strip between automotive traffic. South of Emerson the bikeway transitions to the street level where it will be separated by a mix of concrete curbs and plastic wants until it meets up with the concrete barrier separated path at Going which was completed back in August.
As I reported last year, this northern section of the project (between Willamette and Going) is strange because it’s not being built by PBOT. Since it’s being paid for and constructed by Adidas (whose headquarters are adjacent to it), it doesn’t have the process and transparency we get from a typical PBOT project. This isn’t necessarily problematic because the crews are contracted to build designs approved by PBOT engineers.
Recently however, several people have emailed us about information published by in the Overlook Neighborhood Association newsletter. Their spring edition (PDF) that came out last week features an article by Lee Kebler that stated,
“There is a pause on this project due to the homeless camps that occupy areas that are required for the cycle lane’s construction, specifically on the corner of Greeley and N Going Street. Construction cannot commence as long as there are biohazards in that area, a result of the homeless camps. The camps are a responsibility of PBOT and not an issue that adidas has the authority to address, so construction of the cycle lane will be stalled until PBOT decides if they will take action and when.”
To be clear, encampments are not the responsibility of PBOT. They are handled by the Office of Management and Finance and the One Point of Contact System. It is true there are a few people living on the hillside west of Greeley Avenue near Going, but they aren’t close to the road and don’t appear to be interfering with the construction site. I’ve reached out to PBOT, OMF and Kebler to learn more about what’s going on.
Kebler from the Overlook newsletter says he can’t confirm any details beyond what’s been published. Asked where he got the information about the delay, he said it came from an Adidas Corporate Affairs Manager Tom Hughes (who’s been the neighborhood liaison for the project). I’ve reached out to Hughes and hope to hear back soon.
Back in January, the Portland Mercury reported, “the Overlook Neighborhood Association has consistently used the threat of environmental hazards to protest the existence of Hazelnut Grove [an encampment further south on Greeley near Interstate] in their neighborhood. But the argument often cloaks a more deep-seated discomfort about people experiencing homelessness.”
Asked to confirm the Overlook newsletter story, PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer said, “We have had no contact from Adidas about any delays in the project nor have we heard anything from them about people living in the grass near Going.”
We’ve also heard back from Heather Hafer with the Office of Management and Finance (who oversees encampment responses). She said, “We have not been informed of any delays related to encampments.”
UPDATE, 9:40 am on 3/5: Adidas Corporate Affairs Director Tom Hughes said he’s the one who contacted the City of Portland with concerns about campers near N Going Ave. In a phone call this morning he said the contractors doing the work were going to delay the project because of the presence of trash and “needles” near the work site. “I put a call into the mayor’s office a few weeks ago and the next day it was cleaned up, and Turner [the construction contractor] went back to work… it looks like it’s almost done so we’re full steam ahead.”
When I told Hughes PBOT wasn’t aware of any contact with him, he said, “I’m not sure who you talked to but I’ve gone from Director Chris Warner all the way down. It was a one-call conversation and they said ‘We’ll get a team out there, we’ll clean it up.’ I sent him a map of where the issues were and literally within the next day they cleaned it up.”
UPDATE, 9:00 am on 3/8: I visited the site in question to help clarify if Hughes’ “cleaned up” meant trash was picked up or if the campers were moved to another location. Can confirm that the folks are still living next to the road near Going and it looks like it was strictly a trash removal mission. See photo below of view southbound from Greeley before Going:
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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