By Jill Riebesehl

The Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood District Association continues to grapple with several ongoing challenges, a couple of which may soon bear fruit.

Tri-Met and the Portland Department of Transportation are moving quickly to nail down the basics for building a replacement for a previous bike/pedestrian bridge. The Gideon Street bridge will enable pedestrians, bicyclists and scooter riders from SE neighborhoods to flow unimpeded by idling trains at SE 12th Ave., up and over the Union Pacific and MAX tracks and onto the bike lanes along the Springwater trail, the Esplanade and over the Tilikum Bridge. The bridge is expected to better connect the Brooklyn and Hosford-Abernethy neighborhoods. We have listened to the planners as well as affected businesses and if all goes as planned, it could be built by late next year.

Another stubborn, perhaps hidden project is the small piece of city land at SE 19th Ave. just off Division St. that our neighborhood long ago took under its wing. Efforts to establish it as a park have yielded to others’ needs for shelter, and the lack of sanitation and supervision has made that usage untenable. HAND is moving ahead vigorously in efforts to remake property as a part of the city’s popular community garden program.

Meanwhile, we continue to be concerned about diesel pollution, what with the nearby Tri-Met bus garage and its 600 buses starting up every morning and the constant stream of freight trains cutting through the neighborhood. HAND supported the well-attended September 26 Brooklyn Action Corps Town Hall and will be taking up a request to join ongoing, strenuous efforts to improve air quality.

Cellphone and enhanced communication showed up in two modes recently. One, when we were surprised to see a huge, ungainly cellphone tower spring up at the visually congested intersection at 25th and Division St. without any obvious notice given residents.  The HAND board is investigating.

The other is when we learned a long-planned effort to make municipal broadband available and affordable is seeing daylight. It will be a publicly owned fiber-optic network, Municipal Broadband PDX, supported by Portland, Multnomah County and other cities. Claims are: fast, affordable, secure, accessible, net neutral.

Our neighborhood continues to keep an eye on activities that could affect residential livability:  Central Eastside Industrial District’s effort to set up an Enhanced Services District; Tri-Met’s proposed bus rapid transit, BRT, for Division St. and the city’s plan (Central City in Motion) to improve, or ease, transportation for all modes of use.

The HAND board meets monthly at 7 pm every third Tuesday, except August and December, in Carvlin Hall on the St. Philip Neri campus. All are welcome.