ODOT plans six month road closure near St. Johns Bridge

The detour means bike riders will need to merge across these lanes on Highway 30 into that left turn lane to get up to the St. Johns Bridge.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) plans to close NW Bridge Avenue for six months starting Monday, January 8th. The closure will impact bicycling and other vehicle access to the St. Johns Bridge and will increase freight truck traffic on N Lombard between Kenton and St. Johns.

The closure of the southern section of NW Bridge between the west end of the St. Johns Bridge and Highway 30 will allow ODOT crews to address a persistent problem of landslides on the hillside above the road. We covered a rockfall that closed the street for a few months back in 2022. ODOT says there’s been about one major rockfall a year for the past five years.

The planned detours (see maps below) will impact bicycle riders in two major ways.

First, if you are riding north on Hwy 30 and want to get up onto the St. Johns Bridge, instead of using the signal south of the bridge to get onto the southern section of NW Bridge Ave, you’ll have to bike one additional mile north. The detour will take you under the St. Johns Bridge and then you’ll need to merge over two lanes of Hwy 30 (and its 45 mph speed limit) to use the left-turn signal that will get you onto the northern side of NW Bridge. (And similarly, if you’re on the St. Johns Bridge and want to go south (toward downtown) on Highway 30, you’ll be routed north on NW Bridge Ave and will need to ride an additional mile.)

This intersection is a bit more dangerous than the one of the southern side because sight lines are not as clear. You might recall that in May 2020, an experienced Portland bike rider was injured in a collision with a truck driver at this location.

ODOT says they will create “accessible detours” for bike riders. Hopefully the longer closure will come with signage and markings that will calm traffic and make people more cautious.

The other traffic impact we’ll be tracking during this six-month closure will be the increase in freight traffic on N Lombard between I-5 and St. Johns. ODOT striped new bike lanes and added other safety features to this section of Lombard in 2022 and the new conditions have drawn more bicycling traffic. Hopefully the presence of more trucks doesn’t create a safety hazard and/or scare people away from riding there.

This closure of NW Bridge is expected to last from January 8th to July 2nd. Learn more and find ODOT contact information on the project website.

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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John V
John V
3 months ago

I suppose if the turning lane is too scary (no judgment – it is scary to have cars and trucks on both sides of you going 50+ mph), you do have the option of using a crosswalk. Unfortunately, after crossing 30 on a crosswalk, you’re on the wrong side of Bridge, with high speed cars leaving 30 onto Bridge, and no crosswalk. You’d then have to take another crosswalk to a weird island, and then a third to get to the bike lane on Bridge. That sucks. Hopefully this is the situation they can make more accessible.

Champs
Champs
3 months ago

Show me some bluebird days between now and July 2nd, I’ll just go around.

Six months starting in November/December would have been preferable, but at least it isn’t hurting the prime part of the season, and with any luck we won’t lose this route (like others in the West Hills) to landslides again for a little while.

Allan Rudwick
Allan
3 months ago

This will likely solve substantial traffic backups on NW Germantown connecting to the bridge because of the way it will change signal timing. ODOT could close this ramp forever and traffic would probably be better off

Can we get the bridge restriped to have bike lanes?!? The bridge carries < 1800 cars per hour per direction (the theoretical capacity of 1 lane) and so it should be a no-brainer for the middle of the bridge to have buffered bike lanes. my guess is that having 2 outbound lanes at each end of the bridge would suffice for capacity.

Quint
Quint
3 months ago
Reply to  Allan

This is what PBOT proposed about 10 years ago when the deck was resurfaced, to have one entrance lane and two exit lanes at each end, and their analysis showed it would have no impact on vehicle travel times. This would allow bike lanes in both directions. ODOT said no, without any good reasons.

Ben G
Ben G
3 months ago
Reply to  Quint

Could have been so great to not get passed at 45 because the design is too open for the posted speed.

Kyle Banerjee
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben G

The speed of the cars isn’t the real problem — it’s that the high curb butted right up against the lane leaves cyclists with no reasonable bail option in emergency situations.

When traffic is heavy, cars tailgating vehicles that switch quickly to the left lane at the last second to pass cyclists can’t see creating a dangerous situation.

For all the complaining about the terror of low speed roads that already have good bike infrastructure, it boggles my mind how stuff like this that’s actually gnarly doesn’t get more airplay, particularly since this has a fair amount of cycle traffic.

I doubt the increased traffic on Lombard will degrade the riding experience significantly or reduce the already pitiful number of cyclists there — it may even have a calming effect.

Hunnybee
Hunnybee
3 months ago
Reply to  Quint

A lot has changed in ten years. Much more traffic on the bridge and adjacent roads now. At afternoon rush hour the westbound traffic backs up all the way across the bridge and into St Johns in the right lane, and that’s with two lanes each way. Imagine having only one lane each way, the traffic would be backed up on Lombard for miles. Taking away a lane each way is never going to happen, it is the primary truck route for most trucks going to the industrial area of north Portland. I live on that truck route in St Johns and around 1500 trucks per weekday pass by, at least. ODOT will never take away lanes for a few bicyclists.

Ben G
Ben G
3 months ago

The S side of Bridge is usually not bad during PM rush hour, but the N side is backed up a lot. I imagine it will be very crowded with mostly stopped vehicles at peak hours. And they will not be too thrilled to share the lane soon as they hit that wide open bridge.

maxD
maxD
3 months ago

I hope they add some sharrows or a bike lane up Bridge Av while they have it closed. Or move the poles out of the sidewalk sit is bikeable. There is plenty of space to bike there, but it is a pretty miserable experience.