Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 20th, 2010 at 1:54 pm
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is set to close the Oregon City-West Linn Arch Bridge for two years starting next month. The project will renovate the 90-year old bridge but it will also cut off a key (especially for non-motorized traffic) Willamette River crossing.
ODOT has a detour in place for motor vehicles that will take them about one mile north to the I-205 Abernethy bridge. Since non-motorized traffic is illegal on I-205 (it's a freeway) the closest, bike accessible crossings are the Sellwood Bridge eight miles north or the Canby Ferry, which is about nine miles south.
To mitigate the impact on non-motorized traffic, ODOT will run a free shuttle. Several other options — including allowing bicycle traffic on I-205 and a water taxi — were considered, but an ad-hoc group formed by ODOT decided that shuttles would be the best solution.
ODOT's Community Affairs Coordinator Susan Hanson says regardless of state law, she feels the shuttle service (which is costing ODOT about $550,000) is preferable to freeway riding. "We felt the shuttle service we'll provide gives people good service," she said via telephone this morning, "It meets people's needs in a way that's more comfortable than riding across the [I-205] bridge."
Hanson says the shuttle buses will have room for four bikes and will have a lift for people in wheelchairs. She estimates the trip (with loading time figured in) will take 20 minutes. Shuttles will begin operation on January 10th (about five days prior to the closure) and will be available Monday through Friday from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm and on weekends from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm. Shuttle stops will be on 9th Street between Main and McLoughlin on the Oregon City side and at the existing TriMet stop on Highway 43 where it intersects with Willamette Falls Drive on the West Linn side.
When asked what will happen if a non-motorized user needs a shuttle outside of scheduled hours, Hanson said, "We did collect some data and these were the times that seemed to meet the vast majority of people's needs." She also noted that there is TriMet service in the area.
The bridge is set to close on Saturday, January 15th at 6:00 am and will be closed to all traffic for up to 24 months. More information at ArchRehab.com. You can also read more coverage on this project at our Oregon City Bridge Project story tag.