Sunday, November 02, 2014

Eastbank Esplanade Footbridge

A while ago I'd gotten the notion that footbridges over local railroads would be an interesting subproject of the ongoing bridge thing. I'd done the fancy one next to Union Station, and I'd gotten the notion that I wanted to cover the Brooklyn St. and Lafayette St. bridges in SE Portland too, and a quick survey suggested there weren't that many more besides those, so I started thinking I ought to try to do the others for the sake of consistency. So the bridge you see here is one of the better known example, crossing the Union Pacific tracks just east of the Steel Bridge, connecting the Eastbank Esplanade to the Rose Garden/Convention Center area. Apparently when the Esplanade first went in, this bridge was one of the main sticking points between the city and the railroad. The railroad was in the middle of a rough merger, having just acquired the Southern Pacific railroad. The railroad soon realized they'd bought a pig in a poke, and several decades worth of deferred maintenance along with it, and the city's proposals encountered a company that wasn't inclined to do anything new or risky or innovative just then. The city ended up writing them a $1.1M check for easements up front, and an annual $36k to cover additional wear and tear on the Steel Bridge due to the new Steel Bridge Riverwalk, the lower-level walkway across the bridge. It probably helped too that the resulting bridge is quite high above the tracks and it's entirely enclosed by a wire mesh, so nobody's going to be jumping or tossing things onto the tracks, at least not without a great deal of effort.

An earlier article points out that the Riverwalk was designed to accommodate police horses, since at one point the city intended to build new mounted patrol stables on the east bank, so officers would have to ride across the bridge in order to make their usual rounds around downtown.

This bridge is home of some of the more confusing stairs you'll run across anywhere. The angles are all wonky, and treating them like normal stairs will lead to a faceplant. If you're here after having a few beers, say, walking home after watching the Blazers lose, the ADA-compatible ramp may be a better bet.

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