i-5 bridge

ODOT structure blocks over half of I-5 bridge tunnel path

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on April 21st, 2021 at 10:49 am

Steel beams surrounded by a cage in the middle of ODOT’s I-5 path tunnel.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The path that gets bicycle riders and walkers across the Columbia River adjacent to I-5 between Portland and Vancouver is notoriously terrible. Riders are routed onto dangerous crosswalks, sidewalks, and are forced to use “beg buttons” just to get onto the narrow path that goes across the river.

With my parents in town for a visit this week, I recently met them at their hotel on Hayden Island for a walk across the river to Vancouver (their new riverfront developments are wonderful!).

On our way back, as we walked down the path on the southbound side of the bridge, I was very surprised to see a huge obstruction in the middle of the tunnel that goes under the freeway.

This tunnel is not well-lit and is poorly maintained in general. It was never a favorite part of the crossing to me. Now there’s a huge steel cage structure that protrudes well over half the width of the path. I didn’t notice any temporary or permanent warning signage of any kind. The only safety measures that have been taken by ODOT thus far are two small white reflective strips placed about eye level on the structure itself.

I also don’t recall ever being notified by ODOT about this project and how it would impact path users.


I asked ODOT Region 1 Public Information Officer Don Hamilton for more information.

He said ODOT had to install steel beams to support the tunnel structure so the agency would not be forced to place a weight restriction on trucks using I-5. “We placed the cage around them so the homeless community would not be able to access the area and cause a safety issue with the system.”

The tunnel wasn’t well lit or very safe even before the cage was built.

The beams and cage were installed sometime between December and April. Hamilton said they have no plans to remove it and it’s likely it will remain in place until a new bridge is constructed.

While my family and I were walking near the cage a few days ago, two bicycle riders rolled by and we had to step back against the railings to get out of their way.

If you ride this tunnel, please slow down and be aware of this obstruction — especially in the southbound direction as downhill speeds might make it harder to turn away from the steel bars at the last second.

One reader already told us they almost hit it. “I had a close call with it for the first time just this week. Let’s just say If you’re coming off the southbound ramp with some speed and there’s other people milling around and an on-coming rider it would come as a bit of a surprise.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Tensions mount as bi-state I-5 freeway expansion project moves forward

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on March 19th, 2021 at 2:29 pm

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‘What does a modern bicycle facility look like?’ asks I-5 bridge project leader at kickoff meeting

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 28th, 2021 at 3:25 pm

We already know what it doesn’t look like.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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No bike groups are represented on I-5 Bridge Replacement project advisory committee

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 27th, 2021 at 1:33 pm

Current biking conditions on the I-5 Bridge.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Wednesday evening is the first meeting of the community advisory group (CAG) for the I-5 Bridge Replacement program — the new effort from Washington and Oregon departments of transportation to improve the crossing of the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver. It’s one of three advisory groups that will help the DOTs avoid the fate of the failed Columbia River Crossing project.

Getting to the bridge and crossing the river is currently terrible for bicycle users and this project could attract billions of federal dollars to make it better. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make it easy to bike between these two growing cities — both on the bridge itself and on street connections on both ends.

However, despite the importance of bicycling in this project and the project’s own contention that the CAG will, “develop recommendations to help ensure the program outcomes reflect community needs, issues and concerns,” the 32-member body does not include anyone who represents a cycling advocacy group.[Read more…]

Oregon, Washington reps set for first meeting on new I-5 Columbia River Bridge project

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on November 5th, 2020 at 5:34 pm

How much are we willing to compromise to get great cycling access on this bridge?
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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Oregon set to endorse agreement with Washington on CRC 2.0

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on April 2nd, 2020 at 9:02 am

Concept drawing of CRC in Washington.

While all the attention at today’s Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) meeting will be on the I-5 Rose Quarter Project, there’s another highway expansion mega-project that will take an important step forward.

The OTC is expected to give the Oregon Department of Transportation permission to enter into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Washington Department of Transportation that will lay the groundwork for cooperation on a project to replace the I-5 bridges over the Columbia River. This is a resurrection of the ill-fated Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project that came crashing down in 2013 after the Washington legislature backed out of their funding commitments.

But since massive highway expansion projects are the air that keep state transportation agencies alive, after spending eight years and over $200 million the first time around, Oregon and Washington are eager to try again.[Read more…]

ODOT will close northbound span of I-5 Bridge for 9 days next year

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on October 21st, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Get ready for 2-way traffic on the I-5 Bridge sidewalk.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

How worried is the Oregon Department of Transportation about an upcoming closure of the Interstate Bridge? They’ve announced it nearly one year in advance.[Read more…]

Interstate Bridge 100th birthday essay contest wants to hear your “adventures”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 30th, 2017 at 11:22 am

Ride Along with Branden Shelby-10

Adventure time.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

To help mark the 100th birthday of the Interstate Bridge a group of organizations is hosting an essay contest.

When we saw the theme — “My Interstate Bridge Adventure” — we figured people who bike across the bridge might be inspired to enter. That’s because on a bike it feels like an adventure every time I cross the narrow path just feet from rumbling motorized traffic.

Unfortunately we just heard about this and deadline for entries is tomorrow night (1/31).
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Ask BikePortland: What’s the correct way to cross the I-5 bridge?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on August 10th, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Policymakers Ride-39

There’s no great way to cross the I-5 bridge, but perhaps you can help our reader make it suck a bit less.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Publisher’s note: We’re going to try something a bit different for our Ask BikePortland column. Instead of us bringing in an expert to answer the question directly in the post, we’re going to see if you — our fantastic and smart readers — can help with the answer. Please share your insights and tips in the comments. Thanks! – Jonathan

Today’s question came to us via email from Greg S.:
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Southbound sidewalk of Interstate Bridge over Columbia is closed today

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on August 14th, 2015 at 7:54 am

Plan ahead.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Repairs to the pedestrian gate on the bridge between west Vancouver and north Portland will close its western (southbound) sidewalk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Freeway lanes and the opposite sidewalk will be unaffected.

The Interstate 5 bridge’s sidewalks double as bike routes. Detours from one to the other are time-consuming because of the way the ramps are built.

“The sidewalk will be closed to make way for equipment needed for installation of a new traffic gate across the southbound lanes,” the Oregon Department of Transportation said in its news release. “The new gate replaces a gate damaged in a June crash on the bridge.”

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