BikePortland.org

New $6.6 million carfree path will connect 82nd Ave to PDX Airport terminal

Conceptual rendering of new MAX Red Line station at Portland Airport terminal.

Port of Portland rendering of new MAX station at airport terminal.

(Click for captions)

“When completed, the new multi-use path will be a direct link between the airport terminal and the existing bicycle and path network along 82nd Avenue and through Cascade Station.”
— Mike Coleman, Port of Portland

The Portland Airport has long been one of the most bike-friendly airports in America. It already has a path on the north side of Airport Way, ample bicycle parking, and even a bicycle assembly area inside the terminal for folks who travel with their bikes. A new carfree path that’s set to break ground early next year will boost that reputation even further.

The Port of Portland tells us they plan to spend just over $6.6 million on a new multi-use path that will connect the terminal on the south side of Airport Way with an existing path (and bike lanes) on NE 82nd Avenue. The project will begin construction in January 2022 in tandem with TriMet’s Better Red project.

We first reported on this project one year ago, and now the Port has more details on what to expect. Here’s what you need to know:

TriMet will spend $215 million to add another set of MAX light rail tracks to two sections of the Red Line between Gateway Transit Center and the airport, as well as other upgrades to the line between Portland and Hillsboro. While veteran transit watcher Jim Howell says the project is a redundant waste of taxpayer money, TriMet says the new tracks and other elements of the project will reduce wait times and increase reliability across the network.

The Port has planned for a new path on the south side of Airport Way since at least 2014 when the project was identified in their Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. When TriMet approached the Port about their plans to expand the Red Line, the two agencies entered into an intergovernmental agreement to integrate the MAX project with their multi-use path project. In addition to a new path parallel to the MAX Red Line, the Portland will seize this opportunity to extend the path another half-mile to NE Air Cargo Road and 82nd Ave.

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Rough sketch of some established bike routes to the Portland Airport. New path alignment in red. Dashed lines are on-street bike lanes. Continuous lines are existing paths.

“When completed, the new multi-use path will be a direct link between the airport terminal and the existing bicycle and multi-use path network along 82nd Avenue and through Cascade Station,” shared Port of Portland Senior Planner Mike Coleman in an email to BikePortland this week. Coleman said TriMet created extra width in the design of the new MAX station at the airport terminal to fit the new path. “The integrated project approach enhances the value of the Red Line and completes a key element of the PDX Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan,” Coleman added.

New path will end here, at intersection of 82nd and Air Cargo Way. The existing path that connects to NE Alderwood Rd (more like a sidewalk really) is on the right.

Beyond the airport, this new path will tie into City of Portland projects on NE Cornfoot Road and 47th Avenue, and the new Columbia Lombard Corridor Plan. PBOT is (slowly but surely) working on a new, 12-foot path on the north side of Cornfoot between 47th and Alderwood. And they’re putting the finishing touches on a complete rebuild of 47th between NE Columbia and Cornfoot that includes grade-separated protected bike lanes. The Columbia Lombard Corridor Plan, which proposes several key projects that would vastly improve cycling to-and-from the airport, will receive its first hearing at Portland City Council today (July 21st).

Between those projects and the Port’s new path, we are getting very close to a high-quality bikeway from neighborhoods to the airport.

For Coleman, this new path and light rail upgrades represent “the continued evolution” of their vision for bike access to the terminal. The projects also come at a time when the airport is making a series of major renovations and upgrades as part of their PDX NEXT project. Those changes will include more bicycle parking near the light rail platform and terminal. Coleman says his team is also exploring a bike share system to help workers at Air Cargo Center complete the “last mile” between the MAX station and their offices.

Estimated completion of the new path is the end of 2023. Stay tuned for updates.

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