Portland opened the Flanders Crossing Bridge today; and with the snip of a ribbon, one of those “lines on a map” that advocates stare at with hopeful longing actually became a real, tangible thing.
“Flanders really creates the backbone for active transportation in this neighborhood.”
— Reza Farhoodi, Pearl District Neighborhood Association
The $9.5 million bridge is 24-feet wide and stretches 200 feet across I-405. It’s the only seismically-resilient bridge across the freeway in Portland. It was built to withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and is expected to be used by emergency vehicles in the event of a disaster. The bridge unlocks safe, convenient, access to tens of thousands of employees and residents in the Pearl and Northwest districts. This project is a massive win for the people of Portland, our economy, and our planet.
Referred to in city planning documents since 1972, the Flanders Crossing Bridge marks significant progress for active transportation infrastructure in Portland.
In addition to the bridge, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has invested millions into an accompanying bikeway. There are new signals at 14th and 16th as well as new lane striping and traffic calming that will reduce the number of drivers on Flanders and make bicycle riding less stressful. It’s a rare neighborhood greenway in the central city.
At the opening today, several insiders recalled how close we were to getting a bridge installed here in 2008 when PBOT Commissioner (and former mayor) Sam Adams hatched a plan to re-use the old Sauvie Island Bridge. By all accounts it would have worked beautifully; but Adams opted to ditch the plan when the politics got dicey. He still deserves a lot of credit for pushing the idea forward. Adams’ plan was the spark that create the fire for local advocates to keep fighting for the project.
Pearl District Neighborhood Association Board Member Patricia Gardner was at the front lines of that 2008 push. “I would say today is bittersweet because I know we could have had it over a decade ago… But the sweet part? It feels sweet!”
“It absolutely fits into my vision of where we’re headed,” said a jovial Jo Ann Hardesty, the commissioner-in-charge of PBOT. “I’ve been talking about creating these carfree areas where people can walk and bike, and just be — and this fits right into that.”
For PDNA Planning and Transportation Committee Co-Chair Reza Farhoodi, this new route is a game-changer. “Flanders really creates the backbone for active transportation in this neighborhood.” Farhoodi helped write the State of Oregon grant application that helped spur construction. He said their pitch focused on two things: seismic resiliency and economics. “We were able to make the case that this was not just about bikes and peds. It was about access to jobs and building a resilient network, and I think that really resonated.”
Asked what it’s like to actually see it open after so many years of planning, Farhoodi added, “It really is a surreal moment.” “I started at the neighborhood association in 2012 and if you would have told me that a decade from then we’d be opening a brand new bridge, I would have thought you were crazy… To see this finally open. It feels like a dream come true.”
Just a few miles across town, PBOT is prepping to build another carfree bridge over a freeway. The Earl Blumenauer Bridge that will connect the Central Eastside to the Lloyd via 7th Avenue has been delayed while PBOT waits for the State of Oregon and Union Pacific Railroad to give them a green light to span Sullivan’s Gulch. That should happen mid-July and the bridge is expected to be open in early 2022.
Stay tuned for more coverage. Now it’s time to celebrate! Thank you PBOT!
Check out opening day, the movie!
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.
It sure is nice to read some good news.
Not it’s time to celebrate!
That’s pretty f*ing dope
Hardesty: “I am so loving this. I wasn’t involved in planning it…”
A politician at a ribbon cutting who didn’t even try to take credit for a very popular project. Very refreshing.
The credit falls on her for the failure of the Portland Pathways project. She is in charge of PBOT.
The fact she’s in charge of PBOT makes her statement all the more impressive, because few people would question a commissioner for taking credit for a success of their own bureau. Many politicians would only say, “I wasn’t involved..” in regard to failed projects.
It seems odd that the I-84 bridge is so far along but the city doesn’t have approval from the state and the RR yet. That seems like a thing that would happen early, not late in the process. Maybe it’s contigent on an inspection or something.
I’m happy to see the Flanders bridge open. I can’t wait for the Blumenhour bridge, and I hope to see a just-people bridge somewhere S of Sellwood some day.
They likely have overall permission of course.. I’m sure it’s more of a “Hey, what day and time works for you?” type of thing. It’s a major freeway and rail line with MAX and a big canyon. Not a simple thing and not surprised there needs to be major coordination.
The MAX line isn’t in the gulch at 7th.
Just biked across while running an errand in nw. Much better route than I was used to taking. Lots of folks out using the new bridge. Thanks everyone that made it happen.
Looks great, Jonathan. I was so excited to be there on opening day!
Not my neck of the woods, but I still long for the day when the creation and unveiling of bike/ped infra is not described as “surreal”. Also, the day when freeway projects must be “fought for” and successfully pitched, while bike/ped infra is assumed essential–and not “essential” because “we can drive on it in an emergency”.
It’s very cool that this is now built! I want moar.
What can the city do to build good infrastructure faster and at lower cost?
Good job-diddly-ob, Portland!
Very nice! Except for one thing, which seems fairly obvious: some (probably impaired) driver will drive across that bridge in a car at some point. Those thin, short yellow plastic rods at either end will not be seen and a car will go right over them. Considering that more than one car has made it onto the pedestrian path on the Glenn Jackson bridge, and that many people have ended up driving the wrong way on Portland freeways in the past decade, it is bound to happen that someone will drive across this bridge, too. The city needs to put large, sturdy, removable metal posts at either end to block cars. Not having those is fairly mind blowing and a failure.