Brooklyn residents clean up Powell Blvd overpass

Volunteers, from right to left: Garrett Hill, Guy Berliner, Jenny Conlee-Drizos, Irene Bachhuber, Cheryl Crowe (seated), Stephen Bachhuber, John Karabaic. Not pictured: Kathy Orton and Lee Orton.
SE 9th Street overpass of Powell Blvd. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This is a guest article from Brooklyn neighborhood resident John Karabaic.

On Saturday, November 19, 2022, nine volunteers with the Brooklyn Action Corps removed wet, slippery leaves and trimmed low-hanging branches that narrowed the walkway and interfered with users of the SE 9th Street Overpass at SE Powell Blvd.  They also removed dirt and vegetation that was narrowing the sidewalk near the TriMet 19 bus stop in front of the south ramp of the bridge.

Since Brooklyn is surrounded on three sides by major urban highways and on one by railroad tracks, the SE 9th Street overpass is a critical piece of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in and out of the neighborhood. Stephen and Irene Bachhuber, along with other neighbors, have been regularly cleaning the overpass and trimming vegetation for years.  They’ve led the effort to keep this bridge safe and usable all year round.

The sidewalk magically doubled in size!

Volunteer and BAC Board member Cheryl Crowe was shocked when she discovered that the sidewalk in front of the south ramp of the bridge didn’t have a grass strip next to the bridge ramp. It just had years of accumulated dirt and leaves that made it look like it was planted and made the sidewalk unnecessarily narrow next to an urban highway and bus stop.  Volunteers cleaned some of it up, but have more to do. There are some uneven areas of the sidewalk that need to be fixed and we need to remove more vegetation past the bus stop.

On Saturday, the volunteers even made it safe for tall bikes to pass under the trees!

BAC Board member and volunteer Guy Berliner was leading a BAC neighborhood beautification initiative. After helping to clean up, he seeded the slope with a native Pacific Northwest wildflower blend. Next spring, bridge users will see the colorful results of that effort.

If you live in or around the Brooklyn area and want to get involved with similar efforts in the future, visit Brooklyn-Neighborhood.org.

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Buster
Buster
7 days ago

I can’t stand these hulking spiral ramp pedestrian overpasses. The one on Concord at Going, the one on Lombard at I-5, and this one all require steep grades and longer travel just to cross a major street, and they tend to become creepy areas and eyesores. They surely don’t meet ADA requirements. Kudos to this group for doing the clean-up, but I hope eventually the bridge can be torn down and replaced with a traffic light at 9th & Powell.

I looked it up, and surprisingly this bridge belongs to PBOT, not ODOT.

Leif
Leif
7 days ago
Reply to  Buster

Someone just got hit crossing Division in a crosswalk by someone running a red light. Powell seems to be a pretty dangerous street – might feel safer using something like this than relying on a stoplight and trust and crossing it at-grade.

Buster
Buster
7 days ago
Reply to  Leif

I can understand that desire to have a grade-separated crossing, but too often it’s used as a way to admit defeat and leave the street as a massive dangerous road. There’s also the problem that a lot of people don’t bother going up and over, and just cross the street anyway. Many people don’t want to climb up and over and add a bunch more distance to their walk, and they deserve a safe crossing, too.

Watts
Watts
6 days ago
Reply to  Buster

As someone who supported their neighborhood association’s fight for the pedestrian overpass that was eventually named for Bob Stacey, and as a fan of the new bike crossing of I-84, I disagree with your general condemnation.

Grade separated crossings can be the safest and best solution in some contexts. Given the frequency with which I see drivers blow through the red light at 13th & Powell, I am not sure which at-grade treatment you think would be safer in this situation. Most likely, the alternative here would be no crossing at all.

Buster
Buster
6 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Neither of those are remotely comparable! Your examples are a railroad and a freeway, which are both impossible to cross on foot anyway. I’m talking about overcrossings of arterial streets. I think the arterial streets should be tamed to become safe enough to cross on foot, rather than giving up on them by building an overcrossing. I think a well-designed signalized pedestrian crossing can be very safe. The one at 13th & Powell is old and hard to see. They can be a lot better.

Timothy
Timothy
5 days ago
Reply to  Buster

How about having the overpass and a light? We deserve choices!

Watts
Watts
2 days ago
Reply to  Buster

Would an at-grade crossing at 9th really be superior to what is there? Crossing at-grade is always a bit fraught, and you have to wait for the signal (sometimes for several minutes, like at 28th during peak hour).

I think at this location, a bridge is probably the best solution for everyone involved. I’d be happy to listen to the case for why an at-grade crossing would be better overall in this particular context if you want to make it.

PS: The signals at 13th are not hard to see — there are excellent sight lines in both directions. What makes it dangerous is that the other clues drivers have that a signal is approaching, such as a major cross street, are absent, so the signal feels arbitrary and unexpected. A signal at 9th would share those same attributes, and would also be dangerous.

Mark smith
Mark smith
1 day ago
Reply to  Buster

Yes! More vehicle domination now! We who walk and bike must wait for vehicles!

Watts
Watts
6 days ago

As an occasional user of this crossing, I want to say thank you to the Brooklyn neighborhood association for doing PBOT’s job of maintaining the bridge.