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Attention turns to Kuney for Sauvie span solution

Posted by on April 2nd, 2008 at 3:26 pm

“We’re open to moving the project forward. We think it’s a neat project and we don’t want to see the project die.”
–Max J. Kuney, Kuney Construction

With City Council unable to reach the required unanimous support for an emergency proposal that would have brought the Sauvie Island Bridge span to NW Flanders Street, all eyes turn to Kuney Construction.

Kuney is the company working with Multnomah County to build a new Sauvie Island Bridge and they are also the owners of the old bridge span. That position gives them a unique expertise in dealing with the bridge and a team already assembled to carry out the requisite work to renovate and install the span in Northwest Portland.

If PDOT and Commissioner Adams are able to pull together a last-ditch effort to save the Sauvie Island Bridge span and re-use it for a bicycle and pedestrian bridge in the Pearl District, Kuney will play a pivotal role.

Aware that Kuney is up against several deadlines, and that their patience with the project might be wearing thin, I called Mr. Kuney to get his vibe on the project.

Kuney confirmed that he was aware City Council’s decision this morning and that he’d already been in touch with PDOT and Commissioner Adams’ office about possible next steps. He also said he would like to work to keep the project alive.

“In general we’re open to moving the project forward. We think it’s a neat project and we don’t want to see the project die. If there’s a willingness for us to help move it to T2 [Terminal 2, the location where work would be done] and then do an RFP [compete in a request for proposals], we’d be happy to do that.”

While Kuney said his company is dealing with several important deadlines with the span, he sounded very amenable to working with PDOT to find a solution.

He said that he couldn’t go into details about specific plans with PDOT at this point, but he feels, “we have a basis for moving forward.”

As for the possibility of a competitive bid process for the installation work, Kuney said he thinks his company would have some clear advantages in winning the bid. He also added that the bridge would only be worth about $35-50,000 as scrap.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who voted “no” on the bridge re-use plan proposal this morning, said he would support the plan if PDOT could purchase the bridge from Kuney and put the project out to a competitive bid process.

In the end, he said, “We don’t get to do something like this everyday, it’s a neat old structure and this is a pretty unique effort… I don’t think you’d see many other cities trying to do this.”

As I told him about the overwhelming support of the re-use plan at City Council this morning (he was reading the public testimony on this site as we spoke), he said he has already received one email from a concerned citizen, urging him to work with PDOT on a solution to save the bridge from the scrap heap.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson April 2, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    It sounds like Kuney just needs assurance that they wouldn\’t get burned for the costs of moving the span to Terminal 2, and that would be enough to keep the project alive long enough for for the project to go through the process that Dan Saltzman is pushing for. Any idea what that cost is?

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  • DJ Hurricane April 2, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    So Saltzman has essentially forced the City into a two-step process: (1) buy the bridge, and (2) solicit contracts for its movement and installation.

    Now, do you think Kuney is going to charge more for the bridge if they\’re guaranteed the contract, or if they are only guaranteed proceeds from the bridge sale?

    Thanks for driving up the cost, Dan. I\’m glad you can get behind the more expensive version of the deal. Just as long as you don\’t feel \”pressured.\” **word deleted by moderator***

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  • Refunk April 2, 2008 at 4:25 pm


    Your coverage of today\’s process is phenomenal. One could wish that all journalism was this immediate and thorough (dissenters noted).

    The success of this whole deal is important not so much because of Portland\’s ego. It may be even bigger than present traffic safety issues (yeah–hard to quantify that statement!). It\’s because Portland is one of the lighthouses showing the USA how to live better by leaving the car parked.

    Thanks for the hard work.

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  • wsbob April 2, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Hey, it\’s great that you could get comments from Max Kuney himself so quickly about the prospects for reusing the Sauvie Bridge. Just on the basis of those comments alone, it sounds like he\’s a decent guy that appreciates the unique opportunity this project represents. I\’d like to think this project goes through, and his company get the job.

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  • Crash N. Burns April 2, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    With six of the last ten articles on being about this bridge, isn\’t it getting a little too much attention?
    NW Glisan and NW Everett already have crossings. Updates are great, but this seems like page two content to me.

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  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson April 2, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    re #5

    Everett, and Glisan have dangerous crossings both for bike, and for pedestrians. There was a lot of testimony to this effect. I know the first time I tried to cross one of these bridges I ended up on the 1 foot wide ledge on a corner with three lanes of fast moving cars in any direction I could go with no pedestrian signal. To get from the Pearl district to North Portland avoiding this crossing means an extra mile of travel. If you want to get novice riders to bike commute from NW to downtown you gotta make it easier. There would literally be thousands of people crossing this bridge a day.

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  • no one in particular April 2, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    I, for one, got hit (hard) by a right hook while riding down Everett on a bike. The biggest problem that I see is that it\’s a \”soft right\” onto I-405, which means cars can easily take it at 25 MPH. I\’m pretty good at predicting when cars are going to turn right, even if they don\’t use their signal, because they start slowing suddenly. But you don\’t have to slow down to make that turn, so if they don\’t see you, you\’re going down.

    And yeah, anyone who has ever walked across those bridges knows how terrible they are for pedestrians.

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  • Icarus Falling April 2, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I for one like to cruise down Everett. And even up Glisan. They are not at all as dangerous as people make them out to be.

    Everett is quick, fast, and fun. Of course you need to take the lane around 17th, in order to safely make it through the 16th intersection, but that is no big deal.

    While this new bridge is a good idea, and I hope it is put in place, I do agree that is is being quite overblown, and also is being used (by recent candidates, and our illustrious and useless mayor) as fodder to fuel political fires. A key component of inner city cycling is being played with by those hungry with power.

    And really, who cares about future development in the Pearl? A bike boulevard, yes. More overpriced condos and income for developers? No. This bridge being used as a tool to attract more development, development that will soon be shown to be much more than our city can support?

    I personally think too much development has ruined the Pearl. I remember the days of hanging out under the viaduct, checking out the columns, in their intended original places.

    5 million dollars could house a lot of homeless, and feed many, many hungry children. We could feel great about that, and still ride the arterials that are provided.

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  • wsbob April 2, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Icarus, you might ask yourself why Everett and Glisan do not seem as dangerous…to you…as other people find them to be. How representative of the general public would you consider yourself to be? I mean really, do the bridge crossings for those streets seem to you to be suitable for much greater numbers of the general public than use them now?

    There\’s a lot of things I don\’t like about gentrification and what it\’s done to NW and the Pearl, but I still like to walk safely around different parts of town, even though I don\’t live there. Biking might be nice too. If avenues are built that make various parts of town more accessible to people that don\’t own a Lexus and a Pearl-NW condo garage to park it in, it\’s just possible that a little more equalization may arise to meet that demographic in the area of businesses and development .

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  • Icarus Falling April 2, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Did you notice the part where I typed that I hope this bridge goes in?

    And as far as me knowing what is safe or not to ride, and who for whom it might allow safe passage?

    I am exactly the person who would be able to tell. More than you know.

    My points are valid. My feelings on the \”Hurl\” district are strong. And my knowledge of cycling, past and present, and it\’s plight in Portland, is vast, and should not be so easily passed off.

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  • zilfondel April 2, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Geez. Not everyone who lives in the Pearl is rich.

    25% of the units in the district are rent-controlled. How about your neighborhood? It was also planned out extensively by the community beforehand. If only we could all live in slums…

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  • wsbob April 3, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Icarus, you didn\’t answer the questions.

    The question is not whether those crossings are safe or not given specific circumstances suited to a particular rider such as yourself. The question is whether those crossings are suitable for use by increasingly greater numbers of the general public as pedestrians and people on bikes.

    I noticed that you favor use of the Sauvie Isl bridge, and am not dismissing your knowledge of cycling. I do question the idea some people seem to have that new pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure doesn\’t need to seek to accommodate greater greater numbers of them for generations to come.

    Maybe I read more into your comment than was there, but I believe the larger Sauvie Island bridge structure will be used for much more than a tool for development. A lot of people have service jobs, both in the Pearl and in NW; shops, restaurants, the hospital. They go to school there too; PNCA and Pacific University. The additional width of the Sauvie Isl Bridge is likely to be much more valuable than some people realize, in terms of sufficiently accommodating passage of pedestrians and bikes across I-405 at Flanders into the future.

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  • icarus Falling April 3, 2008 at 1:46 am

    I can say that those crossings are plenty safe for use by increasingly greater numbers of the general public. Pedestrians and people on bikes. They are in fact much safer intersections than many that we have around town.

    The real problem with cycling/ped safety in Portland is that drivers know that they will not be held responsible for their actions to, or around cyclists/peds, and drive accordingly.

    With actual effective/caring police enforcement, enforcement that will make drivers realize that they will be held responsible for their actions, cycling/walking at these crossings, and citywide, will become increasingly safer.

    No amount of new cycling and pedestrian infrastructure will make streets safer than would a police force that actually does what they are paid to do.

    When people learn that they will be held accountable for their actions, they tend to change their actions. And this will save more lives in the long run than any bike lane, etc., ever could.

    And Zilfondel,

    I mentioned developers, not residents.
    I made no mention of whether residents are rich or not. In fact, in reference to the \”Hurl District\”, I did not mention residents at all, rich or poor. I did mention the homeless, but certainly not in direct reference to the area in question.

    But, since you brought it up, I am sure that even you can realize that the 25% you speak of is certainly mandated as a requirement with new development in the area. And not only in this part of town, but in others as well.

    I feel, with my vast knowledge of cycling in the City of Portland, that the best thing I can do for cycling is to ask the questions that people do not want to ask, or even to answer. And maybe to point out some obvious facts that many choose to ignore.

    If this causes some of you to question what I am talking about, this means I have inspired thought.

    And if I have inspired more thought on the topic of cycling in the City Of Portland, I am doing my job well.

    Have a great day!

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  • Schrauf April 3, 2008 at 7:20 am

    I\’m getting more and more sold on the bridge, but why the obsession with Everett and Glisan? Johnson and Lovejoy are a few blocks north and go under the freeway. What is wrong with them, other than your normal downtown traffic issues?

    A mile out the way to avoid Everett and Glisan, are you crazy? There are so many options.

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  • Schrauf April 3, 2008 at 7:23 am

    #5 – Yes, Jonathan gets overly obsessed with topics sometimes. Remember the North American Handmade Bike Show coverage Jesus. Blah blah blah for a week straight.

    But it is his website – are you paying for it?

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  • John Boyd April 3, 2008 at 7:54 am

    More obsessive bicycle reporting please.

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  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson April 3, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Re #14

    Half a mile to Johnson, half a mile back.

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  • Jonathan Magnus April 3, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I personally would love to see the bridge go in, as a pedicab operator I am well aware of the crossing between the Pearl and NW and would love to see a passage closer to burnside that was both safe and esthetically pleasing. This would allow us to more safely provide passage for the large number of people that we transport between NW and the Pearl. I see it as a solution to the non car traffic in the city. After all how many passage ways are dedicated to cars??

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  • Paul Cone April 3, 2008 at 8:37 am

    NW 16th Ave and NW Everett St is scheduled for a bike box install, possibly as soon as this week.

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  • Tim Roth April 3, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Lovejoy has streetcar tracks in the eastbound lane from 23rd all the way down to 11th. That\’s what\’s wrong with Lovejoy. Johnson is an invitation to an early death even more so than the current state of either Everett of Glisan. With all the various side streets and varying levels of stop signs on the non-main arterials in NW Portland, Everett and Glisan are much more appealing to me as a cyclist. At least I know that people will be expecting traffic of some type. I don\’t know if the bridges in place at either of these one way streets are dangerous in and of themselves, but rather it is the manner in which traffic behaves at the entrance to the intersection of bridge and street. Both streets involve motorists in a hurry to get onto a major highway, and chances are they\’re not counting on us cyclists getting in their way. For that reason, I would really appreciate the bridge reuse at Flanders. I would settle for a redesign of how cyclists and cars interact at the locus of the bridges over Everett or Glisan though. Bike boxes anyone?

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  • wsbob April 3, 2008 at 9:53 am

    \”Johnson and Lovejoy are a few blocks north and go under the freeway. What is wrong with them, other than your normal downtown traffic issues?\” Schrauf

    That is probably the most \’fiscally responsible\’, or thrifty way to go. Just redirect pedestrian and bike traffic 2-4 more blocks further. That\’s probably the way Potter or Dozono would suggest things work out.

    Icarus, thanks for finally responding directly to the question of the safety of Everett and Glisan crossings for increasing numbers of pedestrians and cyclists.

    You can personally say that they\’re safe, relatively speaking, but that doesn\’t change the fact that people commonly seem to find them to be not safe. If people in greater numbers are to use those crossings, an accepted perception and a reality that they are safe, has to exist, and presently, that doesn\’t seem to be the situation.

    I re-engineering approaches and motor vehicle/pedestrian/cyclist interaction adjacent to those crossings does the trick, and it\’s the fiscally responsible way to go, then fine. Otherwise, we ought to be looking to the future where much greater numbers of pedestrians and people on bikes will be making their way back and forth across Portland, and continuing to find that the Everett and Glisan crossings, in addition to the 15\’ wide proposed concrete Flanders Bridge, are either not safe or sufficient in terms of capacity.

    This is where the Sauvie Island Bridge re-use starts to look real smart. Down the road, it could turn out to save the city a lot of money in terms of saving it from having to then build a bigger, wider pedestrian/bicycle bridge crossing.

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  • cla April 3, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Sounds our problem here is the gov\’t gave away the bridge as part of the sauvie crossing contract, and now we want it back. While the project makes a lot of sense, we will now be paying more for it than we could have. Kudos to Kuney for puting themselves in the driver\’s seat.

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