Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Photo Essay: Construction on the Commercial St Bridge Replacement

Though we're predictably cranky here about one particular bridge, not all bridges are bad! Of course not.

Demolition begins, August 2012
The project to replace the Commercial Street bridge over Pringle Creek was capacity neutral and necessary because of the age of the bridge - plus, we get a nice path segment out of it! It's hard to see how anyone could rate this project as other than reasonable. (The deck is wide, I think, for parking, and maybe at some future point we can talk cycletrack or protected bike lane, etc. - so it's not quite maximally beneficial, but in the scheme of things, that's a quibble about striping and surface, not basic structure and need.)

Late last month the paper had a note about finishing it up, and with news about a Boise restart, maybe now is a good time for a photo essay on the construction.

April, 2012 - Bank and flume before clearing and construction

December, 2013 - Bank and flume site now

April 2012 - Ivy!
The only real narrative, I think, is the story of the bridge itself, and it is interesting to see in the long-precast concrete I-beams an expression of the most basic post-and-lintel construction. (Maybe readers who are engineers can chime in with more on the structural details?)  There are no larger implications for transportation or development or the cultural life of the city.  It's just a bridge replacement.  It is what it is, no more and no less.

August, 2012 - First Stage Demo

August, 2012 - above

August 2012 - below

October 2013 - The Warehouse rhymes with the old bridge

March, 2013 - Old Bridge and Flume after clearing the bank

March, 2013 - Second Stage Demo, West-side Beams in
March, 2013 - Demo from the other side - four hoes!

June, 2013 - All Beams in place
October, 2013 - Installing the Railing,
maybe the one nod to history

December, 2013 - Path construction
December, 2013 - Paths almost done!

Water Works foundation

I was all hopeful to see the foundation of the 19th century water works, but it was never exposed in a way for very dramatic or interesting images.  And now it's buried again.  (Maybe you caught it at the one ideal moment?)

March, 2013 - Brick foundation first exposed

October, 2013 - Shortly before being covered up

The old Maple

April, 2012
The maple, estimated by city staff to be around 80 years old, was protected during construction, but construction seems to have resulted in the loss of several lower limbs and its perfect form, and this fall the tree didn't look so healthy.  Hopefully the root system will not have been disturbed too much.

July 2012

April, 2013

October, 2013 - Brown rather than orange, red, or gold

Adjacent Swale, December, 2013
There seem to be two swales on the east side of the bridge. they don't actually look all that big, and it'll be interesting to learn more about how they function and whether they can manage a meaningful proportion of the run-off, or if they're just green lipstick.  It seems very close to the root system of the tree, though. 

What's next?

In addition to finishing plantings and railings and other detail stuff, the deck will need a new surface when the weather is better.  But the most interesting question is how the path transition to the Boise property will look.

Boardwalk detail - not for bicycling, really
In yesterday's news about a Boise restart, there were drawings of a new approach to the path.  Without exactly "daylighting" the creek, the path would apparently jump up to the existing concrete slab and then run over a green roof as a boardwalk.  Nice for walking, but that approach - as is reasonable, in truth - diminishes the path as a connection for people on bike.

In October 2009, the concrete slab intended to be gone
At the same time, back in 2009, and with a different architect and design team, the ordinary meaning of "daylight" prevailed, and the plans called for significant streamside and bank restoration in addition to the path system.

This seems preferable, and it is hard not to see the retention of the slab and the concomitant boardwalk as a cost-cutting measure rather than as a positively desired design element.

But either way, though especially with the boardwalk, it will be important for the City to consider the State Street entry as the main bikeway and to create appropriate treatments on State Street and through the intersection.

(For more on the history, see all posts tagged new commercial st bridge.)


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Thanks for this wonderful tour of the bridge. Excellent for those of us who don't get out of our cars in this area...sadly.

Do you happen to know how they plan to connect this walk/bike path to Riverfront Park? I know they are saying a trail, but I mean how are they going to get over the railroad tracks?

Someone who knows a lot more about these things than I do, told me that the Railroad is not going to let anyone cross their tracks...either under or over.

So, just wondering if anyone has addressed this issue for sure. I mean the City said that they could do the development next to the Carousel and it turned out they couldn't get pass the railroad on the issue. I do not know if the City staff can be trusted to know if this crossing is possible.

If they do not have approval yet, I wonder when they might get that permission. Assuming is not a good strategy. Saying we will cross that bridge (ha ha) when we get there does not seem to have worked well in the past.

I would sure hate to see this wonderful project fail because someone did not do their homework!...again...

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

It's my understanding that the path would go under the trestle, and it is news that the RR would not permit the undercrossing. Until folks can point to specific evidence to support this claim, I am skeptical of it.

(This might be an example of ways that conflict with the City is sometimes unfairly globalized. Just because the City is wrong or wrong-headed on some matters doesn't mean they are wrong or wrong-headed on all matters!

The City has, actually, been pretty thorough on this particular issue, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt on it.

It's true that they missed the need for Federal review on the prospect of using a slice of Riverfront Park for the Boise Development when the Park Parcel was in play, but they have exercised due diligence on the matter of the RR crossing. The RR has an issue with at-grade crossings. As long as someone else pays for over- or under-pass crossings, the RR has been happy with them! The wood trestle could, I suppose, be a slightly different case, but until someone can provide actual evidence that the RR opposes the underpassing - well, again, the City deserves the benefit of any doubt on this particular issue.)

Additionally, you talk about "those of us who don't get out of our cars in this area."

The area, of course, is also the area of Mirror Pond.

This is central to the bafflement here over cries to "Save Mirror Pond!"

If Mirror Pond was such an excellent space, you would have reason to be out of your car here more often.

I believe this is evidence that SCV overstates by a great deal the significance of Mirror Pond and the potential costs of reconfiguring it with an adjacent Police Station.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

last night at a neighborhood meeting I asked Linda Norris about the path along Pringle Creek and she said that it will meet ADA standards so it will be usable by bikes, wheelchairs and walkers alike. Width of the path she said was not finalized, so look for an opportunity to make suggestions so that bikers do not push others off the walkway. Room enough for all!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the update!

Bear in mind that meeting ADA standards of "useable" doesn't make something very effective for people on bike. It will be bumpy, meandering, and mostly just suitable for very slow speed bicycling - appropriate mainly for kids and families really. So from this standpoint it will be low-quality.

And the question more importantly is, with a meandering, bumpy path, do we really want a lot of people on bike using it? Should it be an officially sanctioned/encouraged bikeway?

By not providing superior alternatives to a bumpy, meandering path, and by encouraging people on bike to use the bumpy, meandering path, we position ourselves for more awkwardness between people on foot and people on bike.

So people on bike are caught between the horns: Use a busy road that is engineered for cars only, and is not very comfortable or optimally safe? Or use a bumpy, meandering path full of people on foot? There's no good choice here, especially for the middle, those who are neither committed and experienced cyclists nor those who are more experienced than brownian-motion kids.

The position here is that we need to be designing facilities for the broad middle rather than for the experts and skilled! I would rather have the paths focused on walking and for the City to improve the State and Court Street entries to the park for people on bike.

(Here's a brief discussion of the issues. Bike lanes on busy roads really serve only the expert and skilled cyclists. See also the Monday City Council discussion for a comparison with the High Line. It prohibits bicycling, btw.)