Portland City Council’s recent unanimous vote to pass the Central City in Motion Plan has got us excited about the proposed projects soon to be under way. The plan will create a better Downtown and Central Eastside for non-car commuters. It will benefit students in the area. It will provide Bridgetown with a new Portland Bridge.
Most Bike-citing Project: Sullivan’s Gulch Crossing
Cyclists in Portland have often warned one another to “Avoid the Lloyd.” Translation: The Lloyd District ain’t for pedal people. It isn’t just hyperbole. With its weird intersections (like the crossing of NE Lloyd Blvd, 13th and… 16th. wtf?), rat’s nest of a railroad crossing through a bike lane on 11th, and multi-block street interruptions (I’m looking at you Lloyd Center) the Lloyd District is best sidestepped.
Recently, improvements have been made to improve the laborious Lloyd. A marked path over the MAX rail on 11th helps and NE Multnomah Street’s (partially) protected bike lane makes for a nice East/West passage. But the main problem remains: Safely crossing Interstate 84.
While heading south on 7th (the districts only north/south bike lane thoroughfare) you are presented with two options at the T-junction with Lloyd Blvd. First, you could, A) Turn right. Next, head down the hill in the narrow bike lane. Whilst traveling, avoid the lumber piles of sticks that fall there. Then, cross Grand Ave. Simply merge across two lanes in 100 feet to make a left with the cars and trucks onto MLK Blvd. Finally, pedal like your life depends on it (because it does) along the 4 lanes of cars trying to either get to the 84 on-ramp or beat the light at Burnside.
Alternatively, you could B) Turn left. Then cross, from a stop, the 4 lanes of traffic to the bike lane on the far side. Next, merge in front of car traffic at 11th to turn right on 12th. If you’re lucky, you won’t get cars racing around you to pass you in the same lane that you’re riding in until you reach the bike lane after Irving. After that, all you have to worry about is the triple trailer, 26 wheeler trucks pulling out of Franz Bakery. The 12th street crossing is the much better choice, but still far from ideal. Soon, however, we will have a third option: Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge.
New Portland Bridge
Named after Sullivan’s Gulch (the narrow valley which the I-84 and Union Pacific Railroad now occupy) the Sullivan’s Crossing Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge will connect NE 7th on either side of the gap. At this new Portland bridge, a traffic light will replace the one-way stop on the Lloyd side. This new bridge will have 12 feet of pedestrian walkway and 12 feet of bike lanes. Including an awesome view of Big Pink, expect the pedestrian side to be a crowded spot for instagram shots.
In addition to the bridge, 7th street south of the bridge will also be getting a makeover with wider sidewalks. Sharrows on what is already a relatively quiet stretch lead to improved bike lanes in South East. The project, scheduled to be completed in 2021, will be a major stepping stone in Portland’s proposed “Green Loop” of bike, jogging and walking paths encircling six square miles of Downtown and Central Eastside.
Alas, Sullivans Gulch is the most awaited project according to surveys. When asked about prioritization, Portlanders claimed that of the 18 projects in Central City in Motion’s proposal, Sullivan’s Crossing was the clear favorite. Considering how many people will benefit: Students at Benson Polytechnic High School, MAX riders who work in the Kerns District, and Jimmy Johns delivery cyclists just to name a few, this isn’t very surprising. What is, is that it has taken this long to implement the concept of this new Portland bridge!