Bike path on Hood River-White Salmon Bridge wins $3.6M federal grant

Concept drawing of bike path coming to the new bridge.

“Bike and pedestrian access across the new bridge is critical to our local communities.”

– Mike Fox, Port of Hood River

The design of a new bike path on the Hood River-White Salmon bridge is coming into focus. The Port of Hood River announced Thursday they’ve won a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program that will allow them to design and engineer the path.

The bridge between the bustling and popular city on the Columbia River and the growing town of White Salmon on the Washington side, currently has no bike facilities. The bridge is so narrow it’s even scary to drive over (see below). And at 100 years old, the Port is ready to replace it with a new bridge.

Having space for cycling on this bridge will open exciting new possibilities! The design calls for a 12-foot wide, two-way bike path on the west side of the bridge. As we reported back in December 2020 when news of a bike facility first came out, some advocates said they worried that wouldn’t be wide enough. This grant will allow the Port to finalize the design and preliminary engineering for the bikeway; and there’s still a chance to make it wider.

“Bike and pedestrian access across the new bridge is critical to our local communities,” said Port of Hood River Commissioner Mike Fox in a statement. The Port also said they heard a “strong desire for adequate walking and biking amenities on the new bridge, as well as connections to existing infrastructure,” during the public outreach process.

Speaking of connections to existing infrastructure, this project will also include a new roundabout on the Washington side that will come with crosswalks and sidewalks to help get bike riders from the bridge across Highway 14 and beyond.

This is great news and will further boost non-car connectivity in the Gorge and increase the economic impact of bicycle tourism. In the coming years the Gorge will explode with cycling as the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail comes to fruition and word spreads about the amazing riding in the area.

Learn more about this project at HoodRiverBridge.org.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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bArbaroo
bArbaroo
9 months ago

I understand that funding sources vary and have limitations to where/how they are spent BUT I find it troubling that the headline directly adjacent to the announcement of the bike path funding is the coverage of the meeting with HAAB and the lack of funding for that project. It makes that situation seem even more unsettling.

Alan Love
Alan Love
9 months ago
Reply to  bArbaroo

The optics are ironic, but keep in mind the scale. It’s 3 million to create (or at least plan) a currently non-existent piece of infrastructure vs. 1.5 BILLION to slightly enlarge an existing piece of infrastructure.

Chris I
Chris I
9 months ago
Reply to  bArbaroo

Both are good news, IMO. We’re getting a bike path in a critical area where one doesn’t exist, and the I-5 widening project that will make cycling through the Rose Quarter more dangerous won’t be happening.

Boyrd
Boyrd
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Unfortunately, odot has been directed to continue moving forward with the Rose quarter project. They just have to pause while the legislature finds more money under the couch cushions, slashes some funding from other programs, or obligates future taxpayers to fund it with bonds. Rose quarter is not dead yet.

Atreus
Atreus
9 months ago

This is super exciting! There are a lot of great destinations on the White Salmon side and it’s always been such a bummer to have that bridge be only for motor vehicles. The roundabout will also be a great addition.

Alex Bauman
Alex Bauman
9 months ago

It is good news that the bridge is more likely to have bike/ped facilities (though that will depend on capital funding I suppose). It is a little hard to understand how “planning, preliminary engineering and design” for just the bike/ped component of this project is going to cost $3.6m. My understanding of bridge design is that the tricky part is how wide you can make your bridge deck, and the way you configure the stuff on the deck is an afterthought. A roughly 50’ deck that a DOT in the US would build carry a 12’ shared-use path is a pretty boilerplate piece of transportation engineering, though the only example I can find on the Columbia is the I-82 northbound deck in Umatilla, which crosses a much narrower reach. Obviously with a major waterway like the Columbia, you want your deck to be as narrow as possible so you don’t have to build as many piers. But it does seem like they’re saying that the inclusion of any bike/ped facilities was dependent on extra funding at every step rather than a baseline assumption of the project, which doesn’t really seem worth celebrating.

Jeff S
Jeff S
9 months ago
Reply to  Alex Bauman

Well put, my thought exactly.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
9 months ago

YES!

Pete
Pete
9 months ago

Optimistic! Will believe it when I see it. Also assume there will be a toll for it. So funny to read this now, as I just drove back from Underwood to Hood River and was thinking of how sketchy that section of 14 would be to ride, but this is great news for Bingen, and White Salmon is the new Hood River (get yer climbing legs on!).

Will Hicks
Will Hicks
9 months ago

So this a good time to start educating and enforcing current bicycle laws and regulations long before the bridge is built. It’s great to see the increase use of bicycles and ebikes as a viable mode of transportation, however its also discouraging to see a blatant disregard for traffic laws, common courtesy and etiquette on the part a growing segment of the bicycle community. We are all sharing a more crowded world and in order to get along we should make strides in reducing conflict by realizing we are all part of the bigger picture.

Charley
Charley
9 months ago
Reply to  Will Hicks

This is a really odd comment. You imply that we should start an education campaign to improve cyclists’ riding behavior *because of one regional bridge getting rebuilt with a bike path*?

You do know that there are regular improvements to cycling infrastructure in this region, right? I doubt that the new bridge (as good as it may be) will radically increase the number of riders.

Will Hicks
Will Hicks
9 months ago
Reply to  Charley

I’m was trying to infer that, yes, its wonderful that one more bike path improvement is being funded yet at the same time the bike community here in HR seems to have a disregard for traffic laws and almost a sense of entitlement to the roadways. Having been a bicyclist for 50 yrs and a strong advocate for the biking community I’m witnessing some bad attitudes especially with the advent of ebikes. We could use some resources in this area for bike specific law enforcement. Sorry if my comment seems odd. Perhaps I was trying to draw attention to a problem that is bigger than this forum wants to acknowledge.

Charley
Charley
9 months ago
Reply to  Will Hicks

I see. I didn’t realize you live over there. Your comment makes more sense in that case.

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  Will Hicks

almost a sense of entitlement to the roadways

That’s because, you know, they are entitled to the roadways. We, cyclists, are entitled to use roadways. We should not consider ourselves unwanted guests.

Maybe more bikes and infrastructure just helps bring into focus how much of a problem car traffic is to humans using the roads.

Pete
Pete
9 months ago
Reply to  Will Hicks

Interesting. I’ve lived in HR for decades and we local cyclists know full well how to safely navigate distracted tourist drivers. If you’ve had to follow a cyclist riding at 15 MPH up Oak Street who seemed entitled to ride in the middle of the roadway, that was probably me. I’ve actually had new neighbors tell me I have to bike up State Street instead (despite living on Lincoln), because that’s the road with those ‘bicycle arrows’ painted on it.

But yeah, society’s going to heck in a handbasket now that those e-bike scorchers have taken over the gorge…

Will Hicks
Will Hicks
9 months ago
Reply to  Pete

As a walker and trail runner in the HR area I’ve had several close encounters with “entitled ” stoked road bikers and ” entitled ” ebikers that seem to believe they have the right of way on neighborhood SIDEWALKS, as well as, the MULTIUSER designated Old Highway Twin Tunnels trail. Let alone that bicycles are not suppose to be on sidewalks it behooves me that the bicycle community seems to feel this is acceptable and a non issue. Unfortunately the Twin Tunnels Old Highway has become nothing more than a concession venue for the ebike rental shops in HR and a training track for age group roadriders. Walkers and runners use at your own risk. The tone of response in the replies to my previous posts doesn’t surprise me though I was hoping for more understanding and acceptance to a growing issue here in HR. I just see this coming to a head as soon as the first serious injury accident or death occurs and then the resulting heated fingering pointing begins. Signing off with this final posting. Good Luck.

Pete
Pete
9 months ago
Reply to  Will Hicks

I suspect most readers of a bike blog would discourage sidewalk riding, but it may be worth noting it’s only outlawed in commercial and industrial zones in Hood River, not residential.

Pete
Pete
9 months ago

I think that concept drawing may be oversimplified. There will either need to be a drawbridge in the middle, or a much more radical ramp for maritime clearance. It doesn’t happen often, but the Hood River bridge does get raised sometimes for particularly large sailing vessels, as well as the coast guard cutters that accompany occasional night time ‘mystery barges’ (that locals speculate come from Hanford).