“We are keeping [the stairs/elevator option] on the menu for the design phase, but it’s safe to say it has no supporters.”
— Mike Pullen, Multnomah County
Advocates lining up to testify at today’s Portland City Council meeting that includes an agenda item about the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge Project might want to edit their remarks.
There have been updates to two stories we’ve been following over the weekend.
After over 45 days of closure TriMet has found a “temporary fix” for the Lafayette Bridge elevator in the Brooklyn neighborhood. The bridge closed in February due to an issue with moisture in the system that caused the braking mechanism to fail. Last week TriMet said they still hadn’t figured out a solution. On Friday evening we finally heard from them that the elevator is working once again.
Here’s TriMet’s statement:
An elevator on a bridge needed for cycling over light rail and railroad lines in southeast Portland has been closed for nearly seven weeks now. And TriMet, the owner of the facility, still isn’t sure when it will re-open.
On February 20th we reported that the elevator at the Rhine-Lafayette Bridge was broken. TriMet said moisture had gotten into the elevator shaft, causing the brakes the fail.
After posting our story we heard from several readers who were frustrated about losing such an important connection. As you can see in the map below, the railyard splits two neighborhoods and there are very few ways to get across it. While there are stairs with a wheel-gutter, the gutter is hard to use and for many people there are too many stairs to manage carrying their bike safely.
“This bridge being out is a significant impediment for those of us who use it to head North-South — makes my quick 15 minute ride from Sellwood to inner Clinton area twice as long and even longer if I’m headed further north,” wrote reader Carrie. “This whole thing is ridiculous. They tore down the old bridge because, well it was sketchy, but because it wasn’t ADA compliant. Then they build this new one, can’t afford(?) to build one at Harold or Reedway, and yet can’t maintain it and so now anyone who can’t do stairs, or can’t carry their bike up/down stairs (and it’s kind of scary to come down the stairs in the dark rain shouldering your bike) are screwed — there’s no where nearby to get from point a to point b.”
The elevator of the carfree Rhine-Lafayette Bridge in southeast Portland is out of order and TriMet says they aren’t sure when it will be back online.
I used the Lafayette Street Bridge for the first time last week. And I liked it.
The bridge was completed by TriMet in 2015 as part of the Orange Line MAX project and creates a connection over railroad tracks in the Brooklyn neighborhood between SE Lafayette and Rhine streets. It’s the only crossing of the tracks between Holgate and Powell (major arterials).
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
The opening of the Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge in July 2012 came amid much fanfare. The $13.6 million span over Interstate 5 provided a much-needed connection between the Lair Hill neighborhood and the burgeoning South Waterfront.
While it’s a beautiful bridge to walk and bike on, it has one major flaw. There’s no ramp to make bicycling easy and smooth at the transition to the South Waterfront side.
Once you get to the east side of the bridge, the design requires people to: carry and/or push their bikes on six flights of stairs with only a narrow and hard-to-reach wheel gutter to ease the task; or use an elevator.
And unfortunately, the elevator — which is by far the preferred option if you are biking, especially with kids and/or with a large bike — has proven to be unreliable.
On the eastern end of the new (and carfree) Gibbs Street Bridge over I-5, there are two options: You can either carry/push your bike up or down the many flights of stairs, or you can wait for the elevator. When the elevator is not working — which has been the case four times since the bridge opened in July — you are left with only one option. And, as I noted earlier this month, the stairs can be challenging if you have a bike.
This morning, the City of Portland announced yet another closure of the elevator. This would be the fifth closure in just two months. Is this elevator unreliable? Is it time to improve the stairs to make them easier to navigate with a bike in-arms?