BES contractors want more detour compliance and warn of near misses at central eastside project

SE Stark Trunk Sewer Project vehicle detour and bicycle diversion map. (Source: BES)

Contractors working on a City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services project in the central eastside want to spread the word about near collisions between bicycle riders and heavy equipment. 

BES recently broke ground on their SE Stark Trunk Sewer Project, which will install a stormwater diversion structure to redirect combined sewer from a pipeline on Stark to the Willamette River during heavy rain events. Big pieces of material and heavy equipment are staged on SE 3rd near Stark. This is a relatively popular bike route that connects to SE Water Avenue.

We heard from a BES rep today that the contractor has reported some near misses with equipment operators  and they’re worried about keeping the area safe. 

One block of SE Stark between 2nd and 3rd, and one block of 3rd between Washington and Stark are closed during construction (which is expected to continue for five more months).

The detour is to use the sidewalks on Water Ave to get around the construction zone. Since sidewalks can be crowded, please consider walking your bike if you are unable to pass other people with safety and respect.  “Cyclists must avoid riding on closed roadways even if it looks like there’s enough room for a bike to navigate around construction,” reads a BES construction bulletin sent out today.

The BES source we spoke to also said if the near misses continue, they might have to hire police officers to direct traffic.

Learn more about the detour on the project page

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Champs
Champs
1 month ago

I’ll have a good laugh if PPB actually shows up for this, but seriously: respect the detour.

Although on that note, the NE 33rd ramp project apparently wants people on bikes going southbound to detour from 33rd to 42nd on Columbia Boulevard? Just my two cents, but maybe they should suggest literally anything else, and much much sooner.

Carter
Carter
1 month ago
Reply to  Champs

I followed that Columbia Blvd detour once and I’m surprised that I’m still alive. Since then, I just ride up the closed ramp. Admittedly, this is on weekends when there is no activity.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Carter

There doesn’t seem to be weekday activity anymore either.

quicklywilliam
1 month ago

Also beware there are uncontrolled intersections in this area. Normally not a huge deal but the other day I looked right and saw a giant truck barreling down one of the side streets at me, took me a moment to realize I did not have the right of way.

 
 
1 month ago
Reply to  quicklywilliam

Portland’s uncontrolled intersections are death traps. I’m not aware of any other city that has things like this; never seen one elsewhere in the many cities I’ve been, and for good reason. Two people approach the intersection, neither see a stop or yield sign and both think they have the right of way, and boom, easy collision between a cyclist and a driver.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to   

There’s a 5-way uncontrolled intersection in my neighborhood. Fortunately, it’s not busy – but the occasional driver goes barreling through.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to   

They’re all over Seattle. One advantage Seattle has is that many stop signs are on striped poles, so when you’re approaching an intersection it’s easy to see if there are (or are not) stop signs governing people entering the intersection from other directions.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
1 month ago

Start issuing tickets to these cyclists who ride into construction areas.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago

I had a close call there last week: I rode the ramps to cross the steel bridge- closed due to vandalized gates. Turned to ride the esplanade- losed due to high water. Back up the ramp and ride on the sidewalk along Lloyd/MLK to davis to 3rd to get to Stark/Water and bridge. At 3rd, there was a detour sign but it said “except bikes” so I continued through. And almost got hit by a guy in a truck pulling out of a parking space with signalling or looking. It was not clear they expected bikes to use the sidewalk. BES should take some responsibility to get out on site and observe their contractor and provide them with some guidance on how to properly install signs and create a detour. This sounds like victim-blaming to me. From my observation, the contractor is doing a terrible job at managing their job-site and detour.

Christopher of Portland
Christopher of Portland
1 month ago

I haven’t been through this area lately so maybe my comment isn’t all that useful but I’ve noticed a lack of signage, cones, barriers, and other stuff that lets you know what to be doing at construction sites all over the city. I’d like to see if they did a better job here than on some of the messes on Lombard or Division lately.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

please consider walking your bike if you are unable to pass other people with safety and respect

It is impossible to pass a pedestrian on the Water Avenue sidewalks with “safety and respect” if you are riding a bike. The sidewalk is just too narrow. And if you are on the eastern sidewalk, where all the buildings are, it is unsafe to ride even when there are no pedestrians about because you could hit someone unexpectedly exiting a building.

Please don’t do it.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

Once again, COP workers failed to anticipate the full impacts of their project on the public and did not do enough advance planning of the detours. Plenty of cyclists also use SE 3rd as a N-S route in this area, myself included, and absolutely no attempt has been made to provide any sort of detour for them.

X
X
1 month ago

Bike lane (n): where you pile the gravel.

Rob W
Rob W
1 month ago

I was just there today visiting Winks Hardware in a motor vehicle. You would expect the City departments planning construction, and the contractor, would respect a fellow construction trade business.

If the contractors want respect, and safety, they need day-by-day signs for fine-grained business access detour signs.

There are zero signs up the traffic routes to allow vehicles to plot a route around.

It is “we are digging right here now, and we put up signs today here, businesses are not our department.”

If you look at Google Maps traffic, the City is not regularly and accurately mapping the closures.

This is PBOT 101, it is not being done competently, and you can forward his experience to BES.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

Seeing that it’s BES makes me cautious about assuming the issue is entirely poor biking and not poor construction/detour management.

A couple years ago, BES was doing a line replacement project that required closing SW Taylors Ferry Road at night. The signage and traffic management was horrendous. The flagger was stationed so that vehicles couldn’t see them until turning into what was a dead end due to the street closure. The only way out was to do u-turns and drive out into the path of other vehicles entering the dead end, or–far worse–driving around a median island around a blind turn going the wrong way on Macadam head on into traffic coming at you going 35-40 mph. Because of the median, there was no way to escape for a block once you realized you were driving blindly into oncoming traffic. I was counting SEVERAL HUNDRED cars per night driving into the dead end, and about 100 nightly driving head-on into Macadam traffic.

BES was also doing the same thing–counting–every night for days, with no action. I stood talking to the onsite supervisor as this was happening, and she told me the reason was because “drivers are stupid”. It finally got fixed after weeks.

And that’s a detour aimed at drivers. Detours for bikes and pedestrians are often abysmal here, if anyone even considers them.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

Arm flaggers.

Seth Alford
Seth Alford
1 month ago

I am reminded of what BES did with the Fanno Creek Trail (FCT) on the west side.

FCT is an important MUP for bicyclists traveling to/from Multnomah village, other places in the southwest, downtown; and points further out on the west side. FCT lets bicyclists avoid Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, crash corner (aka BH/Oleson/Scholls intersection.) FCT is a flatter route. Yes, bicyclists using FCT to get downtown still have to deal with the disappearing bike lanes on Barbur.

BES ran a pressure sewer line under the FCT. That closed the trail. Then BES had to come back and re-close the trail after sewage leaked from their pipe. There were multiple trail closures over the course of several years, lasting months at a time IIRC.

Watching that project convinced me that BES does not know what they are doing. So when BES says that there are problems with bicyclists on this project, I have to question what BES is doing wrong in terms of detour signage, having flaggers direct traffic, etc.

Chopwatch
Chopwatch
1 month ago

And I want more enforcement by PBOT against public works contractors that allow their CONSTRUCTION WORKERS that illegally use “TME reserve” to park their personal cars despite specific prohibition. A good place to start would be lowering their scoring for future bid award opportunity for GCs that allow their subs and their workers to park their personal cars against code.