Improving service to Swan Island?

Longtime and frequent commenter Lenny Anderson pens an op-ed in the Oregonian on how riders can improve transit service. (Hint: Find more riders).

Which brings me to a few thoughts on how best to serve Swan Island.

A big problem with serving it is that it’s essentially a dead end. More accurately, it’s two dead ends, one being the actual “island” itself (which is now a peninsula, and has been for almost a century, though it original was an island before a land reclamation project connected it to the mainland), the other is the industrial site nestled between the Swan Island lagoon and the bluffs. Even more accurately, it’s three dead-ends, as the mainland side is cut in half by the railroad tracks, with the easternmost part of the industrial area only accessible via the Leverman Street overpass.

Dead ends are hard for bus service to serve, unless they are a really strong anchor. Right now, two bus lines go into Swan Island–the 85 pretty much exists only to serve it, serving the “mainland” side, and the 72 provides peak hour service to the “island” side.

What if a pair of bike/ped/transit-only bridges were constructed? I’m assuming the affected neighborhoods in Overlook and Portsmouth would oppose anything that could be used by trucks, so I’m assuming green bridges here. (I’m not assuming any need for rail; just busses). One bridge (bridge #1) would connect Overlook to Swan Island, running between N Willamette somewhere between N Killingsworth and N Rosa Parks (extending off of Rosa Parks would probably be the best place), down to Cutler Circle; the other (Bridge #2) would connect N Basin Drive, cross over the railroad tracks, and connect to N. Willamette just south of the UP campus.

With these bridges, the 72, rather than going S on Greeley to Going, could instead head north on Greeley, west down Bridge #1, to Cutler to Leverman, south on Basin, then west on Going and ending on the peninsula as currently done. The 85, rather then turning around at N Basin, could use Bridge #2 and serve UP and St. Johns, possibly even connecting with the Marine Drive bus (presently the 16).

Other useful service reconfigurations may well be possible with one (or both) of these bridges in place.

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