Saturday, July 27, 2013

Union Station Pedestrian Bridge

Union Station Pedestrian Bridge
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Today's installment in the ongoing bridge project takes us to Portland's historic Union Station, where an arched footbridge crosses the railroad tracks, connecting the station itself with the Yards at Union Station apartments across the tracks, and the waterfront beyond them. The Yards apartments were built on the site of an old Northern Pacific Railway freight terminal; the Portland Development Commission (which owns the train station) began redeveloping the site in the late 1990s. So the bridge presumably went in around that time. I don't actually have a lot of info to share about the bridge itself. There are lots of photos of it, of varying degrees of artsiness and quality, but the reader can search the interwebs for those just as well as I can. Articles about Union Station or the Yards project are generally "Ooh, trains!", or "Ooh, urban renewal!", and the presence of a not particularly large footbridge doesn't seem to have aroused a lot of interest of its own. Until now, I guess.

Union Station Pedestrian Bridge

I'm not sure I would have bothered with this little bridge either, photogenic as it is, but I've run a bit low on interesting local bridges and I think I may have to lower the bar on what sort of bridge merits a post here. Considering that the last couple of bridge posts have essentially been for overpasses over I-84, I suppose a reasonably attractive skybridge is interesting enough as well. For me, I mean. I never get a lot of reader feedback on this sort of thing, so it's hard to judge how far down the rabbit hole is too far.

Union Station Pedestrian Bridge

I've already run with this idea enough to know there are a few other pedestrian bridges over railroad tracks around town: There's one at the east end of the Steel Bridge, connecting the Esplanade with the Convention Center / Rose Garden area. At least three in SE Portland: A new one for the Springwater Corridor, and two older ones at Brooklyn St. & Lafayette St. A just-opened one for the Waud Bluff Trail on Swan Island. And probably others here and there. So I dunno, maybe all of those are to-do items now too. I walked over the Lafayette St. bridge once or twice back when I lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood. It was kind of old and rickety, as I recall, so that was kind of exciting. It reminded me of the scary bridge in the classic film noir This Gun For Hire, but smaller and without film noir people shooting at each other, at least while I was there.

Union Station Pedestrian Bridge Union Station Pedestrian Bridge


Max said...

I asked TriMet about the fate of the Lafayette and Gideon / Brooklyn st bridges, here's what they said:

"The one at Gideon/16th & Brooklyn will be demolished this fall (after sidewalks on Powell under the bridges are open), because it is in the future light rail trackway.

The one at Lafayette will be replaced, but construction timeline is uncertain -- starting by 2016 at the latest. The new one will have its west landing at Rhine Street, to better align with the light rail station. It will also have elevators.

Replacement of both bridges was originally part of the light rail project scope, but was deferred (along with many other items) when we learned that the project was receiving less federal funding than anticipated. The Lafayette bridge is being replaced with half of the funding coming from UPRR, but there is no identified funding for the other one. "

So if you're going to pay them a visit, maybe want to do that sooner rather than later! :-)

brx0 _ said...

Thanks! Sounds like I'll have to hurry and get some photos soon, especially of the Lafayette St. bridge.

If TriMet thinks the Powell underpass sidewalks are a good replacement for these bridges, they need to be prepared for a public outcry. There's always someone sleeping under there, and there's generally garbage, broken glass, and worse. I don't know whether it's actually unsafe, but it certainly feels unsafe.