Bicyclists, motorists deal with ‘The Dirty 30’

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Bicyclists call it “The Dirty 30.”

That’s the stretch of Highway 30 connecting to the St. Johns Bridge, a rough stretch of road that is a popular trucking route for construction and scrap.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said they wait until winter is over to start sweeping roads again. That means gravel and other scrap can pile up over the winter months.

Ben Helgren is the owner of Block Bikes in Portland, April 3, 2019 (KOIN)

That’s particulary tough on older bridges like the St. Johns Bridge, where there isn’t room for a bike lane. Hazardous lane conditions can push cyclists dangerously close to traffic.

“We fix a lot of flat tires for people that have gotten a flat tire on the bridge or over on Highway 30. It’s really common,” said Ben Helgren, who owns Block Bikes. “People are getting nails from the rough rocks or the nails or the scrap metal falling off of trucks. It’s just a dirty highway to ride on.”

ODOT’s winter maintenance crews are now transitioning to spring projects — fixing guardrails, filling potholes and following up on other damage they couldn’t repair over winter months — in addition to sweeping the roads.

Brian Jensen saw firsthand how much hazardous scrap was falling on the bridge. As he jogged back and forth he noticed a lot of nails along the road.

So he thought he could do something about it. He had a magnet and a ski pole “and taped them together,” he told KOIN 6 News. 

He took the magnet-on-a-pole and walked along the bridge — and pulled up about 20 pounds of sharp metal objects.

He said he didn’t have a bag and filled up his pockets. “Probably about 200 nails and screws, tons of brakepad dust, sawblades, a wrench, a lighter, lugnuts” are among the items his magnet grabbed.

His initiative, shared on social media, is being applauded by runners and cyclists.

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