Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 11th, 2008 at 12:55 pm
[NOTE: *I have updated this post at 12:30pm on 3/12 to correct my errors in the funding numbers and sources for the project.]
The effort to re-use the old Sauvie Island bridge span for a bike and pedestrian-only bridge over the 405 freeway at NW Flanders has been renewed and backers of the project say they’ve got the green light to raise the remaining $500,000 it will take to make their dream a reality.
(Graphic origin unknown)
The idea to re-use the span — and save it from the scrap heap — first came up two years ago. In June of 2006, City officials seemed lukewarm about the idea, fearing public opinion backlash over what would be a $5.5 million project (vs. $3.5 million for a new and narrower bridge) — but they still didn’t rule it out completely.
Then, last summer the idea got a boost when the Portland Business Journal reported that the planning committee of a The Pearl District Neighborhood Association unanimously supported it. But with an estimated cost of $5.5 million, no one was sure how the funding picture would play out. In recent months however, several funding sources have been identified and now backers of the project say only $500,000 remains to be raised (by a combination of private and/or other funds).
So far, the funding picture has played out like this: $2 million in transportation system development charges (TSDCs) via the Portland Office of Transportation and another $2 million from the Portland Development Commission. Another $1 million is still unconfirmed but could come from a combination of state and federal sources.
“We’ve got a lot of folks in the private sector that are very enthusiastic about this project.”
–Reuel Fish, Urban Wineworks
Jeremy Saville is the vineyard manager for Bishop Creek Cellars and operators of Urban Wineworks retail shop in the Pearl District. He says they’re already planning a major event to kick off the fundraising effort.
Saville is working with local bike groups on the Pinot Pedal, a 16 or 27 mile ride which is slated for April 27th. “We’ll donate registration proceeds and 10% of all the wine and gifts we sell on the day of the event to the bridge project,” said Saville, “and it’ll be a big party with live music and donated food for all participants.”
The bridge (regardless of whether it uses the Sauvie span or a new one) would be the centerpiece of the future NW Flanders Street bike boulevard which was promised to the community as part of a compromise deal in the Burnside-Couch couplet plan.
The question remains; can bake sales and bike rides raise $500,000 in just a few months?
“Yes,” according to Reuel Fish, a prinicipal in Urban Wineworks. “There seems to be a critical mass to get the fundraising going…we’ve got a lot of folks in the private sector that are very enthusiastic about this project.”
The reason for excitement about using the Sauvie span is that, because it would be grandfathered in, it would not have to follow current federal standards for widths of bike/ped overcrossings. The Sauvie span is 40 feet wide and officials say a completely new bridge would only have a 15-20 foot maximum width.
And timing is of the essence. Contractors working on the new Sauvie Island bridge say they need a signed contract on what to do with the bridge before June, or Portland’s dream for an iconic bridge that will symbolize our city’s commitment to recycling and promoting bike and pedestrian traffic will be relegated to the scrap heap.