Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 27th, 2011 at 10:29 am
walking over the Bridge of the Gods
this past summer.
(Photo: Jeff Bernards)
The Bridge of the Gods is a key connection for bicycling and hiking over the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. But the span, which is about 40 miles east of downtown Portland, has one big problem — it has no dedicated space for anything other than cars and trucks.
Fortunately, the Port of Cascade Locks and the State of Washington are working to improve access to the bridge. In August, Washington won a $20,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byways Grant Program to conduct a "feasibility study" to find out if adding a bicycling and walking path to the Bridge of the Gods is possible. (The grant is part of a $504,000 award that will also build a new multi-use trail connecting the bridge to Stevenson, Washington.)
The project would be a welcomed improvement. I've never attempted it myself, but I recall that when Portland Trail Blazer legend Bill Walton and my friend Jeff Bernards rode out there back in July, they actually walked over the bridge.
Not only would safer passage by bicycle on this bridge make it more enjoyable to ride in the gorge, but the bridge is also a key link in the Pacific Crest Trail, a popular hiking route.
Back in May, the Mayor of the City of Cascade Locks, George Fischer wrote a letter to the FHWA urging them to fund the project. He wrote that the bridge is, "One of the most important and historical transportation links in the Pacific Northwest," and that it is, "very unsuitable for safe pedestrian and bicycle traffic." Once the Stevenson trail is complete and people can safely cross the bridge without a car, Mayor Fischer wrote that it will, "provide a strong economic stimulus to the community of Cascade Locks."
According to an email sent to members of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, the Port of Cascade Locks wants to leverage this planning grant into state money for engineering work to see if the bridge can handle the weight of a new pathway. This project is likely years away, so we'll keep you posted on any developments.