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First look: New path north of Sellwood Bridge is open

First look: New path north of Sellwood Bridge is open

A very nice new path segment along the west bank of the Willamette River is finally ready to ride.

Created as part of Multnomah County’s Sellwood Bridge project, it connects the bridge to Willamette Park, a bit to the north. The path was supposed to open a few weeks ago, but construction work was delayed. (This is the same delay that led to an unprecedented last-minute route change for this year’s World Naked Bike Ride.)

Thanks to volunteer correspondent and longtime Multnomah County Bicycle Advisory Committee member Andrew Holtz, above is a thorough and nicely annotated video of the new path and its various spurs.







For folks heading north from the Sellwood Bridge, the connection to Willamette Park leads to the rest of the Willamette Greenway Trail, the South Portland neighborhood, the South Waterfront and eventually downtown. So this path (assuming it remains open) will eliminate a long-lived and unpleasant detour onto SW Macadam.

One note to keep in mind: there’s a short segment that runs on SW Miles Place, a residential street that hasn’t been a major bikeway before, so people there may not be expecting to see bikes. Use it with caution.

You can read about other features of the new route on this two-page PDF created by the county.

Now if only they’d finish up work on that new bridge itself. Bike traffic will continue to use its north sidewalk only until late October. We hear the final bike signalization is going to be sweet.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Further ‘clean up work’ will delay west-side Willamette River path opening

Further ‘clean up work’ will delay west-side Willamette River path opening

Patch connection (white) just north of the bridge.(Graphics: Multnomah County)

Patch connection (white) just north of the bridge.
(Graphics: Multnomah County)

The new path north of the west landing of the Sellwood Bridge opened briefly Tuesday morning, but then was re-closed and will remain closed for a matter of weeks.

Multnomah County spokesman Mike Pullen said in an email to BikePortland Tuesday afternoon that “some clean up work” is still needed after all, forcing the path to close:

I have some bad news. The westside regional trail between the Sellwood Bridge and SW Miles Place will not be opening for two to four weeks. … The trail did open this morning as scheduled. County staff found there is still some clean up work to be done on and near the trail that would not be safe to do with the public using the trail. Unfortunately, there are a number of subcontractors that need to be scheduled to do the work. So the public will be using the old detour route on the east side of Highway 43/Macadam for a few more weeks.

That’s all we know for now, except that the county’s new path still looks beautiful from a distance … and that ending Portland’s worst detour onto Macadam’s sidewalk can’t happen too soon.

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New path from Sellwood Bridge to Willamette Park opens Tuesday

New path from Sellwood Bridge to Willamette Park opens Tuesday

Patch connection (white) just north of the bridge.(Graphics: Multnomah County)

Patch connection (white) just north of the bridge.
(Graphics: Multnomah County)

Multnomah County announced today that the new multi-use path being built as part of the Sellwood Bridge project would open on Tuesday, June 14th.

The new path on the west side of the bridge will be 14-feet wide and head north to connect with SW Miles Place and Willamette Park. This will come as very welcome news to everyone who has experienced the detour that put bicycle riders on a narrow sidewalk of SW Macadam.

The new path currently connects only to the north side of the Sellwood Bridge. A connection to the southern path of the bridge remains closed until the County finishes a new bridge that will take riders and walkers up to the deck.

Here’s more from the County:

Signs will direct trail users to access the trail from SW Miles Place. At first, some southbound trail users may access the trail from SW Macadam via the Macadam Bay driveway, because the current path is on the SW Macadam sidewalk, which will now end at the driveway. Eventually, trail users will get used to the new alignment from Willamette Park to the bridge.

Users of the new trail will need to yield to construction vehicles where the trail crosses the construction road just north of the bridge. There is also four-way stop where the trail intersects with the Macadam Bay driveway. When the historic trolley service returns in 2017, trail users will need to yield at the trolley crossing.







The path (on the right with yellow arrow) as it passes a Freeman Motors. Highway 43 is on the left.

The path (on the right with yellow arrow) as it passes a Freeman Motors. Highway 43 is on the left.

The northern terminus of the new path is SW Miles Place, a small residential street. In 2012 there was discussion about restriping the street to accommodate the increase in bicycle riders expected with the new path and bridge.

Before the new bridge opened about 300 people per day used the westside path. A consultant hired by the County in 2013 estimated that that number would increase to 900-1,200 users perday once the bridge opens. That same consultant said bridge crossings by people on bike and foot could reach 9,000 per day by 2035.

According to Pullen, there are no changes planned for SW Miles Place. Concerned about collisions and safety, people who live on the street successfully lobbied the City of Portland to not install any new pavement markings such as striped bicycle lanes or sharrows. The Portland Bureau of Transportation will monitor traffic on the streets and will reconsider design changes if warranted.

This is the second bit of good news this week for the Willamette Greenway Trail. On Monday we reported that automobile manufacturer Tesla agreed to pave a path across a parcel they’ve purchased for a new showroom in South Waterfront. Because of a code exception, the company wasn’t legally required to do so.

The new path opens Tuesday and the bridge from the path up to the south side of the main bridge deck will open by the end of October.

Update 6/13: It’ll be open by noon on Tuesday 6/14.

Update 6/14: It’s now been re-closed for a few more weeks due to remaining cleanup work.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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County confirms Sellwood Bridge will get wider, buffered bike lane

County confirms Sellwood Bridge will get wider, buffered bike lane

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New lane sizes after county decided on buffered bike lanes.

The bike lanes on the new Sellwood Bridge will be more robust than previously expected.

The striping plan of the main deck (as opposed to the 12-foot wide sidepath which is separated via a high curb) originally called for 6.5-foot bike lanes next to 12-foot wide standard lanes. But now the County plans to stripe a 7.5-foot wide bike lane that will include a two-foot buffer zone next adjacent to 11-foot standard lanes.

After we reported on this potential change Wednesday a local news station confirmed that the plans for buffered bike lanes have been finalized.

The reason has to do with green color. The bike lanes were supposed to be stained a green hue to make them safer; but the county has not been satisfied with initial tests of the color. So for now they’ve decided to move forward without it.





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The “proposed” cross section is now final.

County spokesman Mike Pullen said the lack of color combined with speeding concerns from local residents is what spurred engineers to consider a wider bike lane. “To not have the green and keep the old [striping] plan would make us concerned that it wouldn’t be as obvious to drivers that bicyclists wouldn’t have the right to be down there at their level.”

In addition to the 7.5-foot bike lanes, people will also be able to ride on the sidepath in a zone that’s shared with other non-motorized bridge users. Asked why the design has two separate options for cycling instead of just one large, raised sidepath, Pullen said the extra width of the main deck gives them flexibility for emergencies and vehicle breakdowns. “We’ve always called them bike lanes-slash-shoulders,” he said.

As for the green color, the county still might use it someday if they achieve the right color, durability, and application method that’s cost-effective and meets their standards. Riders are however likely to see green color in specific “conflict zones” at the intersections on either side of the bridge. The county will monitor traffic when the bridge fully opens later this fall to determine where there green color is needed.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Sellwood Bridge bikeway design still in flux

Sellwood Bridge bikeway design still in flux

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County bridge engineers and planners floated this proposal to a citizen committee last month and a final decision has yet to be made.

The final design of the bike lanes on the new Sellwood Bridge might not be what you expected. And that’s good or bad news depending on your perspective.

It turns out the bike lanes could be a different color and size than initially planned.

When the curtains came up for the big opening celebration two weeks ago many of you noticed something missing from the main deck of the bridge surface: green pavement to demarcate the bike lane from the adjacent standard lanes. The green colored bike lanes were part of the “final” plans adopted by Multnomah County in July of 2012. They were also still in the plans when we checked in on the project in October of last year.

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The idea behind the green paint was to keep people from driving in the bike lane. “Our main goal is to indicate to drivers that the shoulder is a bike lane and that bicyclists have a right to be there,” Multnomah County spokesman Mike Pullen told us in 2012. The green pavement treatment is estimated to cost $81,000, a line item in the budget that was once on the chopping block only to be reinstated after concerns from bike advocates and former Mayor Sam Adams.

As the project nears completion the green paint might not make it into the plans after all — but there’s also a chance that the bike lane could get a buffer zone.





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The final striping of the new bridge won’t be done until fall.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

At the February meeting of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizen Advisory Committee, county staff proposed changes to the bridge cross section. According to draft minutes from the meeting, the county’s impetus for the changes was to “slow vehicle traffic.”

To encourage people to drive slowly, the county is considering narrowing the two standard vehicle lanes from 12-feet to 11-feet (they’d be 10-feet wide in the middle of the span and get larger toward the ends). They would also narrow the bike lane to 5.5 feet (down from 6.5 feet) and then add a 2-foot painted buffer zone between the bikeway and the other lanes.

As for the green paint, bridge construction crews haven’t found the right mix of materials and application method that meets their standards. The thermoplastic used in bike boxes isn’t feasible for this much space and the county has not been pleased with tests of a concrete stain. The stain they’ve tried wasn’t durable enough and it produced a darker shade of green than what the City of Portland uses.

The City of Portland has been successful with green color on large sections of SW Stark and Oak in downtown Portland. The difference with that application is that it’s on asphalt whereas the bridge is a concrete surface. The County is currently discussing the issue with the City.

Given the added cost and the results of testing so far, the members of the bike advisory committee told the County they “generally felt okay” not using the green on the entire bridge span. The green color will likely be used to indicate potential conflict areas at intersections on each end of the bridge — but the county said they’ll wait until all the intersections are built before deciding where to put it.

The final striping and coloring plan is still in development. The County’s bicyle and pedestrian advisory committee meets tonight to talk more about it. You can swing by and join the conversation at the Multnomah Building (501 SE Hawthorne Blvd) from 6:30 – 8:30pm.

Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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New Sellwood Bridge opens with a “Dang!”

New Sellwood Bridge opens with a “Dang!”

Cheers for the new Sellwood Bridge turned to jeers less than 12 hours after it officially opened.

Multnomah County says at about 6:00 am this morning a woman drove a pickup truck onto the biking and walking path on the north side of the bridge. Then when the path narrowed and the truck got sandwiched between two barriers, the woman got out and left the vehicle.

County spokesman Mike Pullen said the woman likely approached the east end of the bridge from the parking lot of the Riverside Corral, a bar located on the northwest corner of Tacoma and 6th. “She probably drove over a curb,” he said. Pullen added that, “There were signs in the vehicle that indicated drug use.” The County filed a police report.

Portland Police Public Information Officer Pete Simpson told us they’ve contacted the woman. “An officer spoke with driver on the phone who said she got on the wrong path and got it stuck overnight,” he said. “No arrest, no cite, no damage.”

This strange episode resulted in lots of traffic for about an hour. We heard reports from several readers that people were cutting-through neighborhood streets to get around the backup. Crews eventually used a fork-lift to pick the truck up and carry it away.





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(Photo: Sellwood Bridge Project)

It’s worth noting that after our report on the bridge yesterday, several readers were dismayed to find out that Multnomah County will not be adding green color to the bike lanes on the bridge as promised when the final design was adopted in 2012. Without some sort of protection, they worried, people in cars will be tempted to use the bike lane to pass and park. The county’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee was asked by bridge engineers if they felt the color was needed and they said no. One of the committee members told us they don’t think encroachment will be an issue. “Let’s just see how it goes,” he said, “Some sort of paint or coloring could be added later if there appears to be a big problem.”

It’s not clear yet whether this morning’s incident will qualify as a “big problem.”

Mike Pullen thinks it was an anomaly. “It is very difficult for a driver to get onto our multiuse path at the east end of the bridge. It is not a signage issue for the project. The driver took a very reckless action that took a lot of effort,” he said. Then Pullen added, “We will look at when we can do, such as a bollard to prevent this from re-occurring.”

In 2013 a similar thing happened when a woman managed to drive her car for nearly a mile on the bike path that runs in the center of the I-205 bridge over the Columbia River. After the path narrowed and woman’s car got stuck, she panicked and called 911. In that case (which wasn’t even the first time someone had driving on that path), the Police also felt it was just an innocent mistake and did not cite the woman. “Apparently she got confused… and got on the bike path,” Officer Simpson told us at the time. “Officers exercised discretion with someone who clearly made a mistake.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Portland celebrates opening of new Sellwood Bridge

Portland celebrates opening of new Sellwood Bridge

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New bridge on the left, old bridge on the right.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

For the second time in less than a year Portlanders got the chance to celebrate the opening of a new bridge over the Willamette River.

“We’re going to need to find a way to invade Clackamas County to recoup some of our costs; but seeing they have more guns than we do we should probably come up with a well thought out plan before we do anything.”
— Steve Novick, Portland City Commissioner

Thousands of people flocked to Sellwood on Saturday to get their first glimpse of the bridge that bears the neighborhood’s name. Expected to open to traffic on March 1st, the new $300 million Sellwood Bridge will replace a bruised and battered span that opened 91 years ago. Yesterday’s celebration was an opportunity for Multnomah County to say “thank you” to the community and its many partners on the project. It was also a huge party high above the river on an unseasonably warm and sunny day that featured live music, activity booths, a parade, a blessing from Native Americans and, of course, speeches from various dignitaries.

Before the ribbon was officially cut (by what appeared to be the young daughter of Multnomah County Commissioner Chair Deborah Kafoury), local elected officials had a final chance to put their stamp on the project. Most of the speeches were entirely predictable. There were dozens of glowing reviews of the bridge and the decade or so of political and public processes it took to get it built.

But Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick was having none of that.

Novick used his time to point out his disappointment in Clackamas County, a region notably absent from yesterday’s festivities — and from the project’s budget. After listing financial contributions from the city of Portland ($73 million), state ($35 million), federal government ($17 million) and Multnomah County ($170 million), Novick said (in jest) he plans to invade Clackamas County to get their share. “And Clackamas County, where over 70 percent of trips over the bridge start or end, contributed zero,” he said. “So we’re going to need to find a way to invade Clackamas County to recoup some of our costs; but seeing they have more guns than we do we should probably come up with a well thought out plan before we do anything.”

Not only did Clackamas County shirk financial responsibilities for the new bridge, the idea of tolling users of the bridge never gained traction. But that’s all water under the bridge. With the political battles in the rear-view mirror, Saturday was a time to celebrate and take a closer look at the bridge’s design.

The total width of the new bridge is 64-feet: 24-feet for two standard vehicle lanes, 13-feet for two bicycle-only lanes, and 24-feet for two biking and walking paths. The sidewalks got a lot of attention on Saturday. Not only are they the best place to see the view but they stand in stark contrast to single three-foot sidewalk we’ve all been dealing with on the old bridge for so many years.

Here are my photos and a few more thoughts from the event…

The new bridge will be a magnet for cycling: It’s surrounded by popular paths and training routes, it’s flat, it connects well to adjacent paths, it makes a fun loop with the new Tilikum Crossing Bridge, and it’ll be free from the stress of central city traffic….

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Volunteer and member of the County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Andrew Holtz sporting one of the cool aprons made just for the event…

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The paths at the eastern end of the bridge won’t be fully completed until November….

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Look who we spotted gaining signatures for a petition. None other than Bicycle Transportation Alliance founder and former Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder…

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Quite an improvement over the decrepit old bridge huh?!

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ODOT Director Matt Garrett was on hand. I asked him about recent criticisms from former Metro President David Bragdon but he didn’t want to talk about it…

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These “Bridgettes” made my day…

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This is City Commissioner of Transportation Steve Novick riding in a car during the parade…

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County Commissioner and Portland mayoral candidate Jules Bailey also hopped in a car for the parade…

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I need to get something off my chest about the parade: This bridge has more room dedicated to cycling than to driving — yet the parade included zero bicycles. Instead, all these wonderful people who were enjoying a carfree day had to stand and breathe toxic emissions from a line of slowly idling cars. Not including bicycles in the parade was a huge missed opportunity! (see next photo for more)

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I ran into prolific bike and neighborhood advocate Roger Averbeck. Before I could finish my sentence about no bikes in the parade he was already planning to jump in. I think he was as annoyed as I was about it. Then I prodded two more women on bikes who were watching the parade to join him!

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A rare sighting of Jeff Smith, who’s well into his third decade as a bicycle planning and program specialist with the Portland Bureau of Transportation…

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Barb Gribskov said she definitely plans on riding in the bike lane and not on the path…

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Commissioner Novick’s Transportation Policy Advisor Timur Ender (left) and Althea Mickiewicz were some of the first bike wheels on the new bridge…

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Instead of a corridor used solely for moving people across the river, the new bridge is a place. It feels more approachable and human-scaled than any other of Portland’s main bridges. Wide belvederes on both sides will be places where people can sit and eat lunch or have a relaxed conversation with a friend.

It remains to be seen how bicycle riders will use the bridge. Unlike any other Willamette River bridge riders will be able to choose between sharing the path with the people on foot or sharing the bridge deck with people in cars. I asked several people Saturday which one they’d choose and the responses weren’t surprising. People decked out in lycra said they’d take the bike lane while riders in casual clothes said they’d opt for the path. One mom who was with her pre-teen children said she wasn’t sure where she’d take her family. “We’ll have to wait and see,” she said, “It depends on how safe it feels.”

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Bridge concept drawing. The green bike lanes and path pavement markings aren’t going in. At least not yet.

There will be a lot of waiting and seeing once the bridge fully opens in November. Two of the bicycling-related elements we expected to see will not be implemented: the green-colored bicycle-only lanes and the pavement markings (similar to ones on the Hawthorne Bridge) that are intented to separate bicycling and walking on the path. As we reported in July 2012, the final adopted design came with green concrete that would intended to make it clear to auto users that the curbside bike lane was not for parking or passing. “The concrete will be stained this dark green color,” a county spokesperson said at the time, “Our main goal is to indicate to drivers that the shoulder is a bike lane and that bicyclists have a right to be there.”

But according to a member of the the County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizen’s Advisory Committee, the bridge will open without the green bike lanes or pavement markings on the path. Committee member Andrew Holtz shared in an interview this morning that when County staff asked them about the green coloring at a recent meeting, “We thought, let’s just see how it goes. Some sort of paint or coloring could be added later if there appears to be a big problem.” Holtz and other committee members don’t think encroachments into the bike lane will be a big issue because the bike lanes aren’t wide enough to use for passing. “There wasn’t a clear sense from the committee that it [the green paint] was necessarily any safer.” Holtz added that if people do drive and/or park in the bike lanes and if congestion on the path becomes an issue they’ll add the markings later.

It’s worth noting that back in July 2012, right before a final vote on the bridge design, the County proposed cost-cutting measures. One of those was to eliminate the $81,000 for “bike/ped surface treatments” that included the green coloring and markings. Thankfully that proposal died after it was fiercely opposed by then Mayor Sam Adams and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. We plan on digging more into this and will have an update on the final design later this week.

The County expects the bridge to open to daily traffic either tomorrow (March 1) or Wednesday. Please note, while the main deck will be open, the bridge won’t be fully open until November. All cycling and walking traffic will share the northside path, which will narrow to six feet as it approaches the east end of the bridge until it’s fully built in October. The new section of the Westside Greenway Trail from the bridge to Willamette Park is expected to open in April.

UPDATE, 2:27pm: County spokesman Mike Pullen says that while green color will not be used on the bike lanes, there will be a two-foot buffer zone between the bike lanes and the center lanes on the bridge. “Our bike-ped committee believed that with this buffer zone added and the traffic lanes narrowed slightly to slow motor vehicle traffic, the green lane was not needed.” Pullen added that, “We are still exploring methods to add the green color to the full length of the bike lanes on the bridge.” As for the pavement markings on the path, Pullen says those will be added to the path once final striping is completed.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Sellwood Bridge opening celebration and bike party set for February 27th

Sellwood Bridge opening celebration and bike party set for February 27th

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Get ready to ride — and party! — on the new bridge.

According to Multnomah County the new Sellwood Bridge will be ready for traffic by late February or early March. That would be about 10 years since we first started planning it and just over four years since the project broke ground in 2011.

“The new bridge will be open to bicyclists without motor vehicles during the event and we are planning to include historic bicycles in our opening parade.”
— Mike Pullen, Multnomah County

The bridge is about 88 percent complete and it won’t be fully done until next Thanksgiving, but County spokesman Mike Pullen says we’ll be allowed to bike on it at a celebration tentatively set for Saturday, February 27th.

After hearing the latest update to the project timeline, I contacted Pullen to ask him how biking traffic figures into the news.

Pullen confirmed a few exciting details that will greatly improve cycling connections in the area. By late February the new section of biking and walking path on the west side of the river between the bridge and Willamette Park, will be fully completed and open for business.

As for the bridge itself, only one side of it will be open for cycling. When the bridge first opens to traffic, the County has decided to have two-way bicycling and walking traffic on the north side of the new bridge deck. The reason for this is because the south side is connected to the old bridge structure which isn’t going to be removed until fall 2016. “We can’t build the full width of the east approach until the old bridge is removed,” Pullen explained.


If you’re miffed at this news, consider this: The old bridge had just one extremely dodgy, 3-4 foot wide sidewalk that was shared by everyone not inside a car. By comparison, the one side that will be open in a few months on the new bridge will have 16 and 1/2 feet of width for bikers and walkers to share. That 16.5 feet is split between a 12-foot shared path on a separated grade from the standard bridge lanes and a 6.5-foot bike-only lane directly adjacent to the standard vehicle lanes (see image at top of post).

Pullen also shared that bicycle riding will play a very prominent role in the big grand opening celebration. “The new bridge will be open to bicyclists without motor vehicles during the event and we are planning to include historic bicycles in our opening parade,” Pullen said. And to top it all off, he said they’re lining up a local elected official to make the ceremonial first bike crossing.

We can’t wait for the big party!

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather so crews can finish up the concrete pouring and hit their February-March goal. And mark your calendar for February 27th from 12:00 to 4:00 pm.

If all goes according to plan the new bridge would open for regular traffic in time for the morning commute on Tuesday, March 1st.

For more on the Sellwood Bridge project, check out our extensive archives dating back to 2006 and visit SellwoodBridge.org.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


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Checking in on the Sellwood Bridge project

Checking in on the Sellwood Bridge project

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Freshly paved path from bridge to what will eventually be an off-highway connection to Willamette Park.
(Photo: Multnomah County)

Multnomah County has made major progress on the Sellwood Bridge project and at the start of next month they’ll flip the switch on a traffic change that will impact your bike ride.

In early November, people using the northbound lane of Highway 43 will begin using new interchange ramps and the southbound lane will be routed under the new bridge. If you’re headed from the bridge up into Riverview Cemetery, you’ll use a new entrance (a bit further north than the existing entry location) that lines up with the new interchange.

This week the county released an updated image of progress on the new paved mutli-use path between the bridge and Macadam Bay.

Here’s an aerial photo showing the progress as of September 12th.

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(Photo: Multnomah County)

And here’s how the connections will look once it’s completed (bikeways/walkways are bright blue)…

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Meanwhile, the bicycling detours around the west end of the bridge continue to demand caution. Reader Gretchin Lair sent us a note and photos showing how the county is routing people from the sidewalk on SW Macadam down to the new path.

“These photos don’t show the pitch well,” Lair wrote, “but it is terribly steep, has awkward angles, and an uneven transition zone. It feels incredibly dangerous, so much so I felt compelled to walk my bike in this stretch.”

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(Photos below by Gretchen Lair)
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Looking south at the new path.

Once built, the bridge will have 6 and 1/2 foot wide bike lanes, 12-foot wide raised paths, and two, 12-foot wide standard vehicle lanes. The bridge is expected to open to traffic in spring of next year and be 100% complete by November.

For some of you, the new Tilikum Bridge offers an excellent way to avoid this area. But for those of you still taking the Sellwood regularly, how are the detours and ongoing construction zone treating you?

For more information about this project visit SellwoodBridge.org.


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Bike riders can expect up to 20 minute delays at Sellwood Bridge through end of March – UPDATED

Bike riders can expect up to 20 minute delays at Sellwood Bridge through end of March – UPDATED

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Major work on water lines as part of Sellwood Bridge project mean delays for bike riders and walkers of up to 20 minutes.
(Photo: Michael H.)

If you commute across the Sellwood Bridge, you might want to add an extra 20 minutes to your trip just to be safe.

Yesterday we got an email from reader Michael H. He was riding south toward the bridge on SW Macadam (state route 43) when he was unexpectedly forced to stop because of an active construction zone. There was no detour posted and he waiting “about 10 to 15 minutes” before he was let through by work crews.

According to Michael, “At least one other person on a bike was already there waiting and at least another who was running late gave up after about five minutes and took the lane down Macadam.”

In a chat with one of the workers, Michael was told they’d hoped the Oregon Department of Transportation would have provided continuous bicycle access during the work. But the worker told Michael that ODOT didn’t allow them to use a flagger or provide a bicycling/walking path that would impact other traffic on Macadam. “Since they’ve [ODOT] taken Barbur off the table, you’d think they could do something nice on one of the only safe ways to go SW from downtown.”

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I immediately forwarded Michael’s email to Jessica Horning, ODOT’s local transit and active transportation liaison. She had not heard of any biking/walking access closures and hoped it was just a one time occurrence. However, when she inquired with the Sellwood Bridge project office at Multnomah County, they confirmed the closures.

According to County engineer Chuck Maggio, these closures are going to be happening more frequently for the next two months along this stretch of the project. The work involves new water lines that run parallel to Macadam/Highway 43. Here’s more from Maggio:

“There will be times when they are moving equipment and materials that will require short closures of bike and travel lanes. We are allowed to close lanes temporarily for up to 20 minutes without having to set up lanes closures. We have been doing this throughout the project for years, but this is the first time where we have directly impacted bike lanes. There should be flaggers on site to direct traffic when this occurs, and we will reinforce the twenty minute limit with the subcontractors.”

Horning says flaggers will be present to direct people around the work zones, but you should expect delays of up to 20 minutes while the work takes place. She added that ODOT will work with the County to send out a formal traffic advisory and improve the signage as soon as possible.

In the meantime, you might want to avoid the area if possible. Or bring a book or magazine to pass the time.

UPDATE, 5:20 pm: County spokesperson Mike Pullen offered this update via email today along with the photos below:

“Our Sellwood Bridge contractor established a separate lane for the bike lane today north of the bridge along the east side of Hwy. 43. They had flaggers escort pedestrians and cyclists while they walked their bikes through the construction zone. This helped reduce the delays that were reported on Bike Portland.”

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The post Bike riders can expect up to 20 minute delays at Sellwood Bridge through end of March – UPDATED appeared first on BikePortland.org.