TriMet to break ground on bicycle, pedestrian overpass
TriMet is moving ahead with the estimated $15 million Gideon Overcrossing. The bridge for pedestrians and bike riders will cross the freight lines and TriMet MAX Orange Line tracks between Southeast 14th Avenue on the north and 13th Avenue on the south.
Both sides will have an elevator and staircase. TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt said work will begin in April. The bridge will take more than a year to build.
"We looked for another option but there were no others that didn't have a greater impact on private property," Altstadt said.
While there already is a street level crossing at Southeast 12th Avenue, pedestrians and cyclists have been observed climbing over the couplings of freight trains when they stop and block the crossing for long periods. This was considered a significant safety hazard.
"The crossing is safe, the behavior is not," Altstadt said.
The new overcrossing will be solely in the public right of way. But not everyone is happy.
Michael Koerner runs Koerner Camera Systems at 2828 S.E. 14th Ave., the last building on the left as the road dead ends to a fence by the train tracks. He rents out professional camera equipment for television, films and commercials. Recently, an ABC pilot of a cop drama called "Stumptown" used his gear.
His issue is that the new bridge's elevator will block the area where his trucks turn and load. He also has dozens of visits per week by Jet Delivery, FedEx, UPS and camera trucks that will need to reverse to get around the structure. He noted that film trucks often are parked there for a day or two before a shoot while shelves are built inside them to store the equipment.
"They don't think it will affect my business, but I will have to move," he said.
The grant from the Federal Transit Administration says the bridge has to be close to the Union Pacific Railroad crossing at Southeast 11th and 12th Avenues. In 2015, the Orange Line required the removal of an old, non-ADA compliant pedestrian bridge. Koerner says he would have to extend his loading dock 20 feet at his own expense, which would cost him his parking spaces.
TriMet says they have acted in good faith and that an independent, licensed appraiser will evaluate project impacts according to Oregon law, and TriMet will pay the fair market value for impacts caused by the project.
Until now Koerner has been hoping for a delay and a redesign, but he's losing hope.
"We cannot function if that thing goes in and TriMet has never done a comprehensive safety study."
Dylan Rivera, spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, responded, "It's an important project. We hear from business all the time that they are eager to locate where their employees can have comfortable biking, walking and public transit commute access, and this bridge will be an incredible enhancement to thousands of people who bike walk or take public transit to work, to the central east side and downtown Portland."
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