45 thoughts on “Proposed Bridge, Freeways, 1962

  1. Portland’s Unbuilt Freeways – Google Maps. Not my work btw. Looks like 99W would have been upgraded into an express thoroughfare in its own right. Can’t have enough freeways!

    I’ve been reading the biography of Robert Moses, who lead a 1943 study of Portland’s transportation options, for which he was handsomely rewarded – about a million dollars in today’s money. He was all the rage back then – by the late 30s he’d paved New York over with more expressways than those of the next 5 largest American cities combined. One thing Moses advocated that made sense was to have an eastbank expressway a few blocks out, instead of right on the waterfront, which was too valuable as real estate for other purposes. He also advocated creating what would later become Forest Park. Interesting man, a genius in his way; also utterly despicable.

    Another funny thing about Moses is how time after time he’d grandly proclaim that some new bridge or thoroughfare would be the solution to New Yorker’s traffic congestion nightmares, which would be true – for about a day; then, from out of nowhere, motorists would appear to clog up the new works just as surely as they did the old, which is real deja vu in this era of the CRC et al.

  2. The Marquam Bridge looks fairly innocent in the model, but in fact turned out to be an awfull blight on the city. An ugly bridge: what’s the point when it could have been so beautiful?

  3. It looks like the south Portland urban renewal was envisioned here too. Look at all the empty blocks on the West side.

  4. As I grew up in Portland, every freeway built in Portland solved a major congestion problem, for the population of the city at that time.

    The people that use the freeways don’t come just to use them, they are already here. They are already using other routes to get to their destinations. Freeways usually take the traffic off surface streets and out of neighborhoods and move them to the freeways, lowing the traffic in neighborhoods.

    The congestion problem grows, as the population grows, if you don’t plan for added road capacity in the future.

    Portland has not built a freeway sense the I-205 bypass, while the population has grown because of the density mandates.

    If you don’t build it and add to the population densities, you will create congestion.

  5. If anyone hasn’t seen them they should take a look at the short films made in the late 30s of intersections like Interstate Ave and Broadway. Sheer insanity! Of course these were poorly planned even as surface streets; but just try and imagine the added volume we have on the freeways attempting to navigate here as well.

    Some advocated a Marquam Bridge further upriver, away from the valuable downtown acreage, in some locale where the freeway could cross the river in a straight line, instead of the S curve we wound up with.

  6. The Marquam Bridge was built with the Mt. Hood Freeway as the next logical step. The Marquam was not big enough however, to handle the future traffic volumes generated by the Mt. Hood Freeway. A replacement for the Ross Island Bridge or tunnel under the Willamette River was already under consideration in 1974. Kind of a built in “obsoleteness” for the bridge in 1962. If you remember, there used to be 2 “lanes to nowhere” for the Mt Hood.

  7. There still is an empty ramp off of I-5 South as you climb up the Marquam on the left hand side… Great post and comments on Moses.

  8. I remember well how the entire bridge funneled down to two narrow lanes on the east end, while the other half of that end of the bridge was unused, waiting for the freeway that was never to be. There was some really harrowing merging going on!

  9. This is my work: Portland Freeway Ghost Ramps. These are all in the downtown area, except for an overpass at the Sunset Transit Center which connects two patches of bare ground – they’re planning to put in more parking there some day. Recently they also installed a ghost ramp for Phase 2 or 3 of the I-5/217 interchange, I’ve read – although I couldn’t quite figure out where that one is.

  10. KLR, are you aware of this ramp at Naito and Everett? I believe it was a remnant of the Harbor Drive connection to the Steel Bridge. It’s not exactly a ghost ramp in the same sense as the I-5 stubs, since this one was actually used at one time, but still an interesting relic.
    http://goo.gl/maps/rBcvo

  11. Kevin C, I must have driven by that stub a hundred times and not noticed it! What did it connect to, and what made it obsolete? On second glance, it looks like it would have gone right through the convention center so that’s probably what killed it.

  12. Thanks, guys, added those. Kevin C’s was part of the Eastbank & Banfield Freeway¬†Connection, where traffic would wind up on Lloyd Boulevard. The photo in that post is from 1962, with the Minnesota Fwy still under construction, and the ramp temporarily closed while they build the connector to I-5 ; I have a Shell map from 1965 that shows the freeway all finished, and this offramp is still there – they must have added the 9th ave exit later on.

  13. That ghost ramp circled to the right and connected with MLK (then Union) and allowed cars to get to the Burnside Bridge. That was before i-84 was built.

    Here’s another ghost ramp for you: http://goo.gl/maps/VF5So. It is the remnant of a ramp that took cars from the Steel Bridge to 84.

  14. Ian and Kevin, that ramp connected to Lloyd Blvd., to connect the Banfield to the Steel Bridge and the old Harbor Freeway/Interstate Ave. highway. There is also a stub onto the ramp from I-5S to I-84, that came directly from the Steel Bridge.

  15. It curved around and dropped onto Lloyd Blvd heading east. It was removed long before the convention center. Lloyd blvd did not go all the way through to the intersection at oregon & interstate in the way it does now. There was also a ramp that you entered at the east end of the Steel bridge which brought you up to the freeway entrance ramp that connected south bound i-5 to eastbound 84. The ramp went right over what is now the flowered landscaped by the pedestrian bridge

    http://goo.gl/maps/egB8p

  16. Anyone ever notice this ramp? Heading south on I-5 as you approach the Marquam Bridge, there is a ghost ramp just above the Hawthorne Bridge. It was for a on ramp planned many years ago.

  17. When did they add the 9th ave exit to Lloyd and close the tight turn ramp? My 1987 Thomas Brothers map seems to show the old offramp still there – of course the relevant page was torn out long ago, and I can only look at the downtown map, and the legend blocks 9th ave…

    Thanks for yet another ramp, Carter.

  18. rumblefish – that one is on my map. It’s a pretty visible example, especially with all that foot traffic underneath it now.

    And, looking again at my Thomas Brothers map, I see some connector lines in the planning and/or construction phase on the east side section of I-5 that were never built, too – ramps to/from 99E just north of where the Marquam lands, these to be completed 1992; and a ramp to Water Ave that would have looped over I-5, this due to be finished 1988 – only a year after the map was published. It looks like an on ramp to I-5S, which would finally be utilizing that long neglected ghost ramp. Later on I think I’ll scan that map and upload it.

  19. There used to be a ghost ramp on the top deck of the Marquam Bridge, northbound, east end. It was right over the northeast corner of OMSI. Two (left) lanes went north on I-5 and two (right) lanes were supposed to take the ghost ramp to the Mount Hood Freeway. After the death of the Mount Hood, the top deck was reconfigured to send all four lanes north. There was another ghost on-ramp just a bit farther along, right about at the end of SE Clay Street. This was supposed to handle inbound traffic from the Mount Hood. It too was reconfigured into the four northbound lanes on I-5.

  20. The Lloyd exit was originally the Holladay St. exit back when Holladay was a one-way west-bound street. I think they turned it around sometime in the late 80’s maybe in conjunction with the MAX lines going in. (Not sure why people are calling it the 9th ave. exit as it’s not really anywhere near 9th — perhaps I’m misunderstanding what they’re referring to?).

  21. I seem to recall about the time I was in college in the late 80’s and early 90’s that there was a lot of discussion of what to do with I-5 on the east bank. I remember the businesses there pushing for the on-ramp to I-5 south to be built so that probably is related to the proposed ramps shown on some 80’s maps (as well as the ones to 99E).

    I also recall right before the rebuilding of the east-side ramps of the Marquam (in the early 90’s) there was a fairly significant push to move I-5 off the Willamette. I recall about 3 options being talked about. One would have moved it several blocks inland, before rejoining the current I-5 near the I-84 interchange. Another was to put I-5 underground along the river (and/or inland route). And a third option suggested was to remove I-5 entirely from the east bank and re-route I-5 along I-405 on the west side.

    All of this had to be decided before the seismic retrofit/rebuilding of the east side ramps which once completed would pretty much lock in the configuration for decades. Ultimately, I recall Bud Clark as mayor saying it was just too expensive to move I-5 and supporting the decision to rebuild the ramps as they are now. It seemed to me at the time to be incredibly short-sighted given the value of all that riverfront real estate that would have been freed up. Still seems like a real missed opportunity.

  22. Brian

    Yes there were 3 options to move I-5 away from the river. The CEID (Central eastside Industrial District) was formed as a business coalition to stop that move. The CEID is now an urban renewal district.

  23. After checking out that map of the new Sellwood Bridge + Freeway I decided to see what showed up on the Portland Archives with the keyword ‘planning,’ with only electronic records for returns. Well, the first hit is something from 1912 called the Greater Portland Plan, which proposes all kinds of grand schemes for the metro area – first check out the map of proposed roads on pg 12 – most of the modern major throughfares look to have analogues here, complete with roads ringing the city in basically the position occupied now by 217 and I-5, along with plenty more diagonal roads to join Foster and Sandy. They had some crazy harbor megaproject in mind for Swan Island, too – from the air it looks like an old fashioned key, or scorpion, or cross section of a tree…or is that intended for the west bank across from Swan Island…what the…amazing document, check it out. There’s a week’s worth of VP posts here.

  24. as annoying as it can be driving in a city that is not very friendly to cars and developing more freeways, I am glad that Portland is geared that way. I grew up in Dallas, where the car is king, and you go everywhere on a highway or freeway. it took me a while to get used to the lack of “service roads” and figuring out where you are supposed to exit to get to where you need to go. It’s maddening sometimes to see the place you are trying to get to from the freeway, yet you have to drive another 3 or 4 miles to exit, then double back through neighborhood streets to try and find your destination again.

  25. Section of 1962 Pittmon’s Map of Portland showing the locations of several current ghost ramps, including the exit ramp from I-84 West to Lloyd Blvd and a ramp from the Steel Bridge eastbound to the ramp onto I-84 Eastbound.

    Interestingly, there appears to have been an on ramp to I-84 Eastbound from NE Davis at NE 3rd.

    Harbor Drive to Steel Bridge ramps can also be seen.

    Ghost Ramps - 1962 Pittmon's Map

  26. @mark

    I remember visiting a friend that moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970’s. He surprised me by taking a freeway to the nearest laundromat!

  27. The same 1962 Pittmon’s Map shows the Marquam, but with ramps from North bound and South bound I-5 connecting with SE division. Also looks like there are on ramps from SE 4th to I-5 North.

    Marquam Bridge 1962

    Strangely enough, a 1966 Gousha map shows only what appears to be the I-6 North to SE Division off ramp. That is, fewer ramps in 1966 than in 1962.

    Marquam Bridge 1966

    Makes me wonder if the 1962 map depicts ramps that were anticipated but never actually built. Any VP folks know?

  28. A few things strike me about the above model (which would have been cool to see in person).

    1) Anyone notice the ramp from Water Ave. to the Morrison Bridge westbound? I’m curious if this was something future planned that was never built because I don’t recall seeing a ramp like this anywhere in old photos of the Morrison or any physical evidence of it. As the Morrison was completed in 1958, I’m guessing this ramp was probably part of a wish list although based on how it’s laid out, I don’t see how it would have been possible without massive revisions.

    2) No Water Avenue/CEID off-ramp from I-5 North.

    3) At the far top left corner you’ll see a ramp leading from the Grand/Union viaduct to the never-built Mount Hood Freeway westbound. This ramp stub actually survived (complete with bolts for a sign post) until the viaduct was replaced.

    4) I just noticed the ramp from I-5 North to the Mount Hood east would have sliced right through what is now OMSI’s property.

  29. Andrew:
    1) There indeed used to be a short ramp from Water Ave. w-bound to the Morrison Bridge. I remember using it as a short cut probably as late as the 90s. Seems like it was eliminated when they did some improvement work on the Morrison approach ramps from SE Grand.

  30. @Tony: All those ramps to the Marquam, and the I-5 connection with I-84, would have been only proposed/planned or under construction ramps in 1962. There are several photos on VP (including a 1962 photo linked above by KLR) showing the state of construction of I-5 and the Marquam in the early to mid 60’s. That section wasn’t completed until 1966. Here’s photo showing the Marquam under construction in 1964.

    The ramps shown along Division in both 62 and 66 maps are the proposed Mt. Hood Freeway connection (and proposed connection to 99E) which can be seen above in the photo of the model that is the subject of this post (i.e. that portion of the Mt. Hood Freeway ran along, or above rater, that section of division).

  31. Also, regarding the 3rd and Davis on-ramp to I-84 eastbound, that can also be seen in the 1962 construction photo that KLR links to above. However, at the time of the photo it was still the final off-ramp at the end of the westbound Banfield. Once the ramps (shown under construction) connecting the westbound Banfield to the Morrison and the 2nd Street /Lloyd Blvd exit were opened, the 3rd and Davis ramp become an on-ramp for I-80/84 eastbound. This lasted until at least the 1980’s as I recall my dad using that on-ramp heading home from Blazers games many times. I think the route at that time was to take Union/MKL south to Couch, then west to 3rd then north on 3rd which led directly onto I-84 east.

  32. For a long time I wondered why the intersection of Ankeny and MLK had this chopped off corner. It was to accomodate the traffic turning right or south. Essentially it’s where the old banfield intersected with 99. http://goo.gl/maps/RnuWD The old intersate sign frame is still there. This sign directed southbound 99 vehicles to the on-ramp @ 3rd and Davis @tony first mentioned. Now its just a frame.with no sign (ghost sign frame?)

  33. Hmmmm… given the dates on the photos, it would appear that the (C) 1962 on the Pittmon’s map does not reflect the actual publishing date. The map must be both newer than ’62 and have included some planned-but-not-built ramps.

    Still, it’s fascinating to learn that 3rd ave was – at different times – a west-bound off ramp and an east-bound on ramp.

    Thanks Brian and Kevin for the info.

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