(Nov. 7, 2019) Neighborhood advocates, community members, and officials with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), joined U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly today at NE Seventh Avenue and Flanders Street to break ground on the future Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge over I-84.
The new bridge will be 475-feet long and 24-feet wide, spanning over seven lanes of I-84 traffic, two active railroad lines, and Sullivan’s Gulch. The completed bridge will have a 10-foot wide pedestrian path and a 14-foot wide path for two-way bicycle traffic.
Originally called “Sullivan’s Crossing” during its design and development, the bridge was officially named the Congressman Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge by Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in May 2019, to honor the Congressman’s steadfast, decades-long advocacy for cycling and pedestrian issues in Portland and across the country.
A bike commuter since 1973, Congressman Blumenauer first began biking to work when he became a state legislator, riding regularly from his apartment in Salem to the Oregon State Capitol. As a member of the Portland City Council from 1987 to 1996, Rep. Blumenauer launched and provided critical leadership on many of the bike initiatives that are staples of Portland today. Among these are:
- The Neighbor Ride Event (a precursor to Portland’s Sunday Parkways)
- BikeFest on the Burnside Bridge (a precursor to Providence Bridge Pedal)
- Bike to Work in the Rain Day (a precursor to the Worst Day of the Year Ride)
- The Traffic and Transportation course at Portland State University, hosted by the Portland Bureau of Transportation
- The Yellow Bike Program (a precursor to national bike-share programs such as Portland’s BIKETOWN)
- School Zone Transportation Safety Projects and “Portland Kids on the Move” (a precursor to PBOT's Safe Routes to School program).
In 1996, under Blumenauer’s leadership, Portland adopted its first citywide Bike Plan which laid out a 20-year vision for 600 miles of bikeways across the city.
When he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, Rep. Blumenauer took Portland’s bike culture with him, cycling virtually every day to the U.S. Capitol. He also founded and co-chaired the Congressional Bike Caucus, which has had hundreds of members over the years, and helped promote cycling, having fun, and demonstrated the spirit of “bike-partisanship.” Most recently, Rep. Blumenauer introduced the Vision Zero Act of 2019. This legislation would allow communities to access federal transportation funding for designing and implementing Vision Zero programs that work to eliminate serious and fatal traffic injuries.
The Blumenauer Bridge will serve as a vital connection for pedestrians and people biking between two of Portland’s fastest growing neighborhoods—Lloyd and the Central Eastside—and beyond. In the future it will also serve as an important link in Portland’s Green Loop.
The bridge will be seismically resilient and serve as a backup route for emergency vehicles over I-84 in the event of an earthquake. In addition to the bridge, the project includes two new public plazas and landings on the north and south sides of the bridge.
“It is an honor of a lifetime to be associated with this bridge,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “I have long advocated for a safer connection for cyclists and pedestrians between the Lloyd and Central Eastside districts. This is a statement of Portland’s values and culture for us to celebrate and build on.”
“Congressman Blumenauer has worked tirelessly throughout his entire career to prioritize safe, sustainable transportation—I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition,” said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “The Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, while just one part of the congressman’s impressive and ever-growing legacy, will provide a much-needed safety improvement for bicyclists and pedestrians—it will serve our community for generations to come.”
“Portland’s leadership in economic development and transit planning is on full display today,” said Prosper Portland Board Chair Tavo Cruz. “We are building 21st-century infrastructure that will deliver a safe and sustainable mode of transportation, while ensuring access to clean, well-functioning transit options, and equitable opportunities to participate in its construction.”
“The Earl Blumenauer Bridge will be a vital link in Portland’s transportation network, offering a safe and convenient freeway crossing for people who bike or walk through Lloyd, and strengthening our neighborhood’s connection to the Central Eastside and the greater central city,” said Go Lloyd Board Chair Lisa Klein. “Go Lloyd is proud to have championed and helped fund this project, and we’re thrilled that construction is getting underway.”
During construction, the contractor will construct a bridge foundation on the south edge of Sullivan’s Gulch and two foundations on the north side. A temporary tower will be constructed between the I-84 freeway and railroad tracks to aid with erecting the bridge. The bridge itself will be assembled on NE Seventh Avenue at Flanders Street on the south side of the freeway.
In August 2020, the bridge will be moved into place across the freeway and onto the temporary tower. This installation will require a full closure of I-84 in both directions for one weekend. Following this, crews will connect the bridge to the north landing. The bridge is scheduled to open in spring 2021. The bridge was designed by the Portland-based firm KPFF Consulting Engineers and the landing plazas were designed by ZGF Architects.
Funding for the project comes from the Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Area and from Transportation System Development Charges (TSDCs), which are fees paid by development to mitigate the impact of new users of the transportation system. Other funding sources include a commitment from the nonprofit transportation management association Go Lloyd and the Central Eastside Industrial Council. In January 2019, PBOT retained HP Civil Inc., an Oregon-based construction company, as general contractor for the project. The project includes 32% participation from Disadvantaged, Minority-Owned, Women-Owned, Emerging Small Businesses, or Service Disabled Veterans Business Enterprises (D/M/W/ESB/SDVBE) including an equity partner, West Side Iron, a minority-owned Oregon business responsible for delivering and assembling the bridge structure. The estimated construction cost is $13.7 million.