Category Archives: Spanning the Bridges

Sellwood Bridge open to bikes but not cars Sunday

On Sunday, Sept 9th, the Sellwood bridge was closed all day, for maintenance. Hearing that, I knew I had to ride the bike down here to see what was going on. Sure enough, it was closed. Closed to cars, but not to bikes! There seemed to be a stream of bicyclists crossing the bridge. We rode up back and forth. On the road! On both sides! What a great ride that was. A much better car free bike/bridge experience than even the Bridge Pedal can provide. In fact, building a new bridge, while keeping the original Sellwood as it is for bicyclists and pedestrians is one of the options being considered for the Sellwood Bridge replacement. And while that sounds like a very nice option , in reality that option may turn out to the be worst option for riders in the long run since that span will surely receive little or no maintenance or funding in the long run, and with that, the new bridge will then be built with minimal bicycle access, which could mean we would be worse off then than we are now. The BTA also does not support this option. But anyway, it was really nice to be able to ride the bridge and admire the sunny views without the noise, danger and aggression that usually accompanies this bridge crossing.

Bikers had a carefree carfree ride across the Sellwood bridge.

They did stuff like patch up deteriorating joints.

ODOT was doing some serious inspection work underneath the bridge

Some cosmetic stuff like repairing the rails apparently will not get done

Ross Island Bridge from the Springwater

We got out on the bikes early on Saturday before the dark clouds rolled in. The ride on the Springwater trail provides nice views of the Willamette River and some of the great bridges that cross over it. Stopping to photograph bridges is easier on a bike. Here, an osprey makes use of the dead tree which provides him with an advantageous view for himself. Although his purpose, and ours, differ a great deal.

Another bridge collapse. In China over the river Tuo.

courtesy of

The Monday collapse in the southern town of Fenghuang rekindled concerns about rushed, shoddy building amid China’s torrid economic expansion.
Fenghuang is famed for its riverside stilt houses and local families commonly wash laundry and dishes in the Tuo.

Witnesses described hearing a rumble and seeing stones fall from the structure Monday afternoon after construction workers removed the supportive frame from the 42-meter-high, 268-meter-long vehicle and pedestrian bridge across the Tuo River.
”The whole thing collapsed,” said Nong Xiaozhong, one of two survivors in a 12-man construction team working under the bridge.
”There was no time to warn the other workers and I just managed to run a few steps before I was covered under the stones,” ”I crawled to the road nearby and an ambulance came in 10 minutes. I was rescued.”

Rescuers managed to save 86 people, including 22 who were injured, many from the 123 workers on the site at the time of the collapse, Xinhua said.

The collapse was likely to fuel already deep public concerns about the quality of construction in a country undergoing breakneck economic development and where corruption among contractors and officials is common.
Premier Wen Jiabao called for a thorough investigation into the collapse, saying those responsible would be ”severely dealt with.”

Nong, the construction worker, said he and his fellow workers worried the bridge’s stone arches were too large and that the mortar was not dry enough to remove the scaffolding.

The state-run China Daily, in a report Tuesday, said that the Ministry of Communications last year deemed 6,300 bridges as dangerous because of serious damage to their “structural components.” It quoted a prominent engineer as warning that many new bridges were poorly designed and built and that China needed to heed the Aug. 1 collapse of a bridge in Minnesota that killed at least nine people.

Sellwood Bridge Open house set on July 25th

The Open House will the the third public event for the Sellwood Bridge project will be held on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Sellwood Middle School gym. Presentations will be held every 45 minutes to provide a project update, explain the results of the alternative screening process, and get the public’s input on the remaining alternatives. Detailed information about the alternatives which have been advanced for further study will be available as well. Take a survey at the open house or online (from July 30 through September 9) to provide input about these alternatives.

If you can’t go to any of the open houses at least sign up for the mailing list list to receive regular project updates.

Here is some good information on alternatives.
To me, the alignment chosen for the new bridge is secondary to the cross-views of bridge width. I would hope that we accept nothing less than a 4 lane road, with walkways, AND bike lanes on each side. I have heard the arguments that 4 lanes instead of 2 will increase traffic, but I do not buy it. The traffic will go where it needs to go, and people will not make a decision to go a certain way based on the number lanes. They base those decisions on time and distance. As we can see, the 2 lane bridge backs up and adds time, but it is still used. Isnt it better to have more cars travel with better traffic control, than less cars, travelling in jammed conditions?

The bridge just has to have safe bike lanes!!!

Bike/Pedestrian bridge over Clackamas is still closed.

Way back in August of 2006, a brush fire damaged the south span of what is sometimes referred to as the Park Place bridge, a bike/pedestrian bridge over the Clackamas river, near Cross Park in Gladstone. Owned by Clackamas County Service District 1, it also holds the diversion sewer pipeline between the North Clackamas sewer system and the Tri-City sewage treatment plant. It also provides the best access from Milwaukie/Gladstone to the Oregon City area, the north side of the Clackamas, and to the soon to be developed Willamette river slough at Oregon City. We ride through the park often, during training rides. The bridge is on our commuting path, and without this access, riders must ride down to, and cross over, McLoughlin Blvd, and then cross the river on the sidewalk of the Dr. John McLoughlin Memorial Bridge. Continue reading

Bike ride TO Sauvie Island.

Many bicyclists love to ride on Sauvie Island. We are not one of them. Yes, the area is rural and flat, but we find the shoulderless roads and inconsiderate drivers a very bad combination. I ride TO Sauvies Island. Just to look at the bridge. The new bridge construction is now underway, directly next to the old span. Pictures are posted on the GoLiNiel Bridge pictures page.
Some highlights of last Saturdays 47 mile ride.

  • The water level of Oaks Bottom is very low, and it seems to be filling with more vegetation than I remember from past years.
  • Huge used car sales day has taken over Oaks Park.
  • Stumbled upon the new Sauvie Island Bridge span being built at Port of Portland Terminal 2
  • Cinco de Mayo festival has taken over Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
  • Took many more pictures of the work on the new bridge. They should be posted soon on the GoLiNiel Bridge pictures page.
  • The “Bridge Diner” constructed as an old time diner, as a movie set for Untraceable, under the Morrison Bridge is completely gone. No visible trace it was ever there.
  • Heading back down front spotted the old beat up looking Dockside Inn, a little restaurant that almost looks abandoned from the outside, but was clearly packed with a lunchtime rush. On sunday there was an article in the Oregonian about that restaurant. Wierd.

3rd edition of Portland bridge book is out

Way back in 1989 Sharon Wood Wortman published the first edition of the Portland Bridge Book, and I got my copy right away. In the first edition Wortman offered technical information, and history for 12 bridges across the Willamette River, two across the Columbia River, and several railroad bridges. The second edition added poetry, a couple of songs, a glossary of terms, a list of owners and web sites, and an index. The books have very nice line drawings, but I thought the book lacked photographs, and could be improved with nicer photographs. It looks like Powell’s books, which is where I got my first one, has just one more copy left!
So, late last year, the 3rd edition became available, and I was able to get my copy at the Powell’s Books at the airport while waiting for my wifes flight. (While airport stores are usually more expensive, Powell’s promises that their airport store is priced identical to their original). Go here, for info on Sharon and her 3rd edition. Anyway, this edition does have 100 current, and 50 historical photographs, which provide a much better sense of the structures and their surroundings. An added chapter on Sauvie Island Bridge, and many other updates. It is a very nice addition to my bridge library.

Crowding the Sellwood

We have been watching the new $6 million condo being built within feet of the Sellwood bridge, and have wondered just what they are thinking. First off, it seemed that a living room that overlooks the on ramp to one of south Portlands major bridges doesn’t seem attractive. And then there is the whole bridge rebuilding thing that has been talked about for many years. Turns out the owner, who apparently lives in Arizona didn’t know that the bridge may be torn down and that a new one would be built somewhere close? Oh, and now is upset nobody mentioned it? The issues with the Sellwood have been very public for a few years, and don’t seem much like a secret. Seems a little out of touch to me.

“I question why they even permitted me to build in the first place,” says Wasson, who lives in Arizona. “Nobody mentioned it.”
Ummm. Sorry, I guess it slipped my mind.

The county owns none of the property around the bridge’s east side; the county had no money for the land when the bridge was built in the early 1920s. Over the years, the area became crowded with development, from office buildings to condominiums.
The governments does not always have the authority to control what happens the boundaries the roadway right of ways, nor would it do any good for them to advise private developers what they should do. Developers continue to encroach on public roadways as long as there is an immediate profit. We see it every day as more and more properties are being built that crowd our roadways leaving little room for bike and pedistrian travel and no room for expansion. Then the public is left with overpaying these owners for “unfairly” taking their property when increasing traffic demands require expanded space.sellwood1.JPG

I did go down under the Sellwood to take a look at the office building at 380 S.E. Spokane St., nicknamed the “troll building” because it sits right under the bridge. The building, which has several concrete bridge columns running through its offices.
I’m thinking, that when the Sellwood is torn down, that space is going to have issues.

Sellwood Bridge Survey

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance sent me this post.
“As you know, the Sellwood Bridge has extremely dangerous and inadequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities (a single 4-foot sidewalk on one side only). In fact, the BTA has determined that the Sellwood Bridge is the major barrier to bicycling in the Portland region.
Multnomah County is leading a process to design and build a new bridge. The Sellwood Bridge project team has just released a survey related to cross-section and alignment options for a new bridge. Responses to this survey will be used to narrow down the range of alternatives, including bicycle and pedestrian alternatives.
Please take the survey! And emphasize these points:
Questions 14 and 15: if a 4-lane cross-section is chosen, it will look and operate much like the Ross Island Bridge (as opposed to a human-scale bridge like the Hawthorne Bridge). Please support options that either limit the number of lanes, or that reserve additional lanes for transit purposes.
Questions 16 and 17: support ALL options (bike lanes, sidewalks AND multi-use path).”

Take the survey today!