Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 20th, 2006 at 9:33 am
Transportation advocates, neighborhood leaders, and elected officials huddled under a tent on a blustery morning yesterday to officially dedicate the on-time and on-budget Three Bridges Project on the Springwater Corridor Trail.
Portland Parks Director Zari Santner led the ceremony and introduced key players in the project, from the construction engineer to U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
Also on hand at the ceremony were City of Milwaukie Mayor Jim Bernard, a slew of PDOT staffers, Metro Councilors Rex Burkholder and Brian Newman, advocates from the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust, and others.
The big theme of the speeches was connectivity. These three bridges—which cross Johnson Creek, McLoughlin Blvd., and a railroad track—not only fill a major gap in the popular Springwater Corridor Trail, but they connect Portland to Milwaukie.
An ebullient Jim Bernard, who stole the show with his candid humor, put it best when he said, “We’re proud to have Portland as our suburb.”
Metro’s Rex Burkholder, who was the founder of the BTA and on the oversight committee for the project, emphasized how these bridges, “…cross a lot of boundaries, not just between cities, but between communities.”
Burkholder also stressed the importance of passing Measure 26-80 so we can continue to close trail gaps.
Congressman Blumenauer stressed how the new bridges, “make our transportation system more complete for all users.” He then went on to remind the crowd to start focusing on the new federal transportation bill coming up three years from now.
Adding perspective to the proceedings was a touching moment when Barbara Walker, the Queen of the 40-Mile Loop stepped on the stage and reminded the crowd that it was 100 years ago that famed landscape architect Charles Olmstead (best known for Central Park in NYC) first envisioned a trail that would surround and connect Portland.
When Walker gave Congressman Blumenauer a huge bear hug it really put the event, and the trail, into perspective.
Moving on from the speeches, the large crowd followed blaring bagpipes and walked over the three bridges, cutting a ribbon at the entry to each one. At the tail-end of the group, I happened upon Potter and Barbara Walker walking arm-and-arm, savoring their the moment like old friends.
Mayor Potter joined us at the last stop and told the crowd that it was 30 years ago when he first met Walker and heard about her 40-Mile Loop idea. In his speech, with his arm around Walker, he said, “All of this comes from the minds of our citizens, let’s give them a big round of applause.”
Other key gaps still remain in the Springwater Corridor and there is more work ahead, but yesterday we savored a great accomplishment for our city.