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The Flanders Crossing bridge for bikes and pedestrians was installed on Jan. 23 by Wildish Construction.

COURTESY: PORTLAND BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION - The Flanders Crossing bridge is lifted into place Jan 23, 2021. Looking northeast.

It's been a long time coming, and it remains to be seen how many bikers and walkers will use it, but the Flanders Crossing has been installed.

Wildish Construction, which specializes in bridges and roadways, dropped the Flanders Crossing Bike and Pedestrian Bridge into place Jan. 23. The work is part of its contract to build out the Northwest Flanders Neighborhood Greenway.

By this summer, Northwest Flanders Street will be a bike-friendly street from Northwest 24th Avenue, all the way to the Willamette River, where it meets the Steel Bridge and Waterfront Park at Naito Parkway.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Conduit built into the new Flanders Crossing bike and pedestrian bridge over I-405, shown here at Northwest 14th Avenue before installation. The contractor Wildish Construction says the tubes will carry electrical power and data cables for traffic signaling. One is empty so that new uses can be added by PBOT in future without disrupting bridge traffic.Curtis Fenner, project engineer at Wildish Group of Companies, said the company was the low bidder on ODOT's request for proposals (RFP), which came out in the middle of January 2020. After a couple of months, the contract was drawn up, and Wildish set to work planning the bridge's installation.

"In about early April, we started sending things back and forth to the city for products that we want to use, and subcontractors," Fenner told the Business Tribune. "Just miscellaneous documents that could be fulfilled before we start."

Everything from the conduit to lighting fixtures to signs and the type of asphalt must be approved because different cities and counties have their specifications. Subcontractors have their preferences, so part of Fenner's job is to make it all match up.

"All of those things get checked and double-checked before we start the work," Fenner said.

For example, for asphalt, they get documentation from vendors like Lakeside, Knife River, or CalPortland, check that they meet all the requirements, and then select one.

Wildish does work around Oregon, and most of the 15 or so Wildish crew on the Flanders Crossing came from the headquarters in Eugene and the other office in Fairview.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Looking east at the new Flanders Crossing bike and pedestrian bridge over I-405 in Northwest Portland. Wildish Construction is the general contractor, overseeing the installation and all the roadwork, which extends down Flanders to Waterfront Park as the new neighborhood greenway.

Long in the works

The city has been planning this bridge since Sam Adams was mayor (2009-12). (He once proposed floating the old Sauvie Island bridge downriver and re-using it here.) The 24-foot wide Flanders Crossing stretches 200 feet across I-405.

"Designed for two-way pedestrian and bike traffic, the bridge adds a seismic lifeline in the case of a major earthquake," said Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesperson Hannah Schafer. The $9.5 million bridge is funded through grants from ConnectOregon and city Transportation System Development Charges.

"Flanders Crossing will provide the first easy, comfortable way to get across I-405, connecting Northwest Portland with the rest of the central city in a safer way for pedestrians and people biking," Schafer said.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - The new Flanders Crossing bike and pedestrian bridge over I-405. The bridge needs surfacing before it can open in the spring.

Safer route

The Northwest Flanders Neighborhood Greenway will have new traffic signals at Northwest 14th and 16th Avenues, along with a four-way stop sign at 15th Avenue, to make it easy for pedestrians and people biking to access the bridge from both directions.

"Until now it's been hard for pedestrians or people biking to get across the I-405 in the area, with people having to use either Northwest Everett or Glisan streets — both of which have sidewalks on only one side and have tricky intersections with the onramps and exit ramps for I-405," Schafer said.

The Northwest District Association, Pearl District Neighborhood Association, Old Town Chinatown Community Association, the Nob Hill Business Association all backed the greenway.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - The new Flanders Crossing bike and pedestrian bridge was put in place over I-405 in Northwest Portland on Jan. 23. The bridge awaits surfacing so it can open in the spring.

Public works

PBOT helped Wildish with the schedule to keep the traffic flowing. For example, doing the work on the Glisan ramps to the 405 set Wildish up to do the bridgework. As well as the bridge, the scope included striping, curb cuts, ADA ramps, and new traffic lights and signs on the greenway.

The last thing before installing the bridge was for Wildish to install the bearings. These are dampers made of neoprene and steel that absorb a lot of vibration. "Otherwise, you'd have steel on concrete, and that can be harsh," Fenner said. They are made by D.S. Brown of North Baltimore, Ohio. (D.S. Brown does enormous jobs such as replacing the suspension cables on the Manhattan Bridge in New York.)

Conduit runs along the side of the bridge connecting each side. Two of the conduits have planned uses. One is the communication cable to street lights, to coordinate them.

"The city thinks ahead and says, 'Let's get these mounted up now, so we don't need to close the road again," Fenner said. "The third is open for future connection. I'm sure the city will have a use for it down the road."

The bridge was craned into place by Barnhart. It was moved west by two dollies and lifted by two cranes sitting on the freeway floor. Now Wildish is working on putting on the concrete deck and paving it.

Wildish is a union contractor, so it pulls from union halls. The deck will be laid by another Wildish company. (Fenner works for Wildish Standard Paving. Other subsidiaries are Wildish Building and Wildish Construction.)

Much of the rest of the work is completing the greenway, which will include new bike markings (green bike boxes), signals and stops.

Asked whether the outlook for public construction work is good, Fenner said: "From where I sit, the city still has a lot of work to be done. We'll work with ODOT and local counties for any kind of any infrastructure projects. And everyone is putting out their projects for now."

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - The new Flanders Crossing bike and pedestrian bridge over I-405 underpass in Northwest Portland, seen here staging at Northwest 15th Avenue and Flanders Street.


In 2007, the City of Portland identified Northwest Flanders Street (and its crossing over I-405) as a biking and walking corridor to serve an area with high potential for future nonmotorized trips as well as an alternate seismic-resilient route for emergency vehicles following an earthquake.

Construction began in July 2020.

The $9.5 million Flanders Crossing is funded by ConnectOregon grant funds and Transportation System Development Charges.

The project will employ approximately 100 people including subcontractors from over seven minority-owned businesses.

Read more:

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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