Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 11th, 2009 at 11:11 am
Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson learn
about the bridge from an
Last Friday, the Oregon Department of Transportation hosted a tour of the Oregon City/West Linn Arch Bridge. The bridge is slated for a major, two-year renovation project and ODOT is faced with having to figure out how to maintain non-motorized access across the river during the closure.
So far, ODOT has not figured out a solution and they are acutely aware that bike advocates, elected officials and other community members want to make sure that adequate, non-motorized access options will be provided for.
Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) Advocacy Manager Michelle Poyourow was the sole bike advocate on Friday’s tour. She joined (bike-riding) Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson, Oregon City Mayor Alice Norris, local business leaders, bridge engineers, and others for an up-close look at the bridge and the challenges faced by ODOT.
attendees, including the BTA’s Michelle
Poyourow (far left).
Poyourow told us that during the tour, business owners and elected officials “made it crystal clear” that having a bike and pedestrian connection across the river during the project was a must.
Poyourow said she plans to watch this project very closely. “We have hundreds of members who live in Oregon City or West Linn or Lake Oswego, and even farther away, who need that multi-modal river crossing.”
ODOT’s Region 1 manager Jason Tell — who has been very supportive of bike-related issues in the past — has taken the reins on this situation. In a telephone interview this morning, Tell told us that he felt the tour was very positive and helpful. “It helped everyone understand the challenges,” he said, “and now they realize why we haven’t yet found a solution.”
Tell confirmed that he will form a group of stakeholders from the County, the City, and the community to delve deeper into finding a workable solution. ODOT will hire a consultant to review the options on the table so far and Tell sees they’ll meet with the contractor’s union to ask their opinion as well.
Among the options on the table are a shuttle over I-205, a protected shoulder on I-205 for non-motorized traffic (which Poyourow says wouldn’t be acceptable because riding on the highway would be “so loud and dirty and unpleasant and scary”), some type of path attached to the bridge during construction, or a ferry across the river.
Tell said the ferry idea is something they’ll take a closer look at. He said Oregon City owns a dock about one mile from the existing bridge that they say could be a ferry boarding area. That detour would likely be fine for people on bikes, but not so easy for people on foot. To make it easier for pedestrians, Tell said they could complement the ferry service with a shuttle service to the dock.
Tell also said just a shuttle is still an option. He envisions a specially-equipped bus that could fit 10-15 bikes at a time and that would take people across the river via I-205.
I asked Tell if he could guarantee that an adequate access solution would be found. He stopped short of any commitment, but he did say this is the “toughest situation” he’s ever seen and that ODOT is “trying very hard” to come up with a soluion.
Poyourow says she doesn’t have a favorite solution yet, but she’s optimistic that one will be found. She prefers to see the problem as a potential opportunity to bring the community together and perhaps even create a new, permanent bicycle and pedestrian connection between Oregon City and West Linn.
Tell said he’s also heard feedback of wanting a new, permanent path for biking and walking. “Right now, we have to solve this immediate problem,” he said, “but by having all these people at the table, if they have ideas and get excited about it, it could lead to something like that.”