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Salztman vows support of Sauvie span

Posted by on April 17th, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Sauvie span supporters gathered
in Northwest Portland earlier tonight.
(Photo © J. Maus)

While supporters of moving the old Sauvie Island Bridge span to downtown Portland gathered for a rally tonight, Commissioner Dan Saltzman issued a press release stating his support for the plan.

Saltzman voted against the project back on April 2nd when it came up for vote in City Council. At that time he cited discomfort with how the contract for the project was drawn up and said if certain conditions could be met, he would vote in support of the project.

Here’s a blurb from the press release:

“This project is a great reuse of a historic bridge that will provide enhanced safety for bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Commissioner Saltzman, “but I was not comfortable with approving the largest no-bid contract in the City’s history without examining the options to lower the price through a competitive bidding process”

It took a bit longer than most observers expected for he and Commissioner Sam Adams to pound out an agreement, but now it seems like they’ve done it.

Here’s the key part of the press release:

During the intervening weeks, Commissioners Saltzman and Adams worked to create a proposal that moves the project forward that ensures price stability and includes a competitive bid component by:

· Requiring all funding to be in place before executing contracts associated with the project;
· Requiring formal bids for all construction related to the project; and
· Having a guaranteed maximum price for all services related to the relocation of the bridge.

“We are a city of bridges and this proposal is consistent with that heritage, I look forward to seeing this bridge become Portland’s next landmark” Commissioner Saltzman commented.

I expect to know more tomorrow but I would assume that right now Adams’ office is drafting up new language for a resolution that will be in front of City Council in the next few weeks. With Commissioner Erik Sten no longer in his seat, there are four Commissioners left to vote and Adams must have two of them in his corner to pass the proposal.

I doubt Mayor Potter will reverse his “no” vote, which will likely make him the lone dissenter.

If all goes smoothly from here on out, the estimates I’ve heard are that the Sauvie span could be in place as early as this December.

For more background on this saga, see my story archives.

More coverage tomorrow…

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  • Elliot April 17, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Might I be the first to say… YES!!!!

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  • Metal Cowboy April 17, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Good work on the rally/walking tours! Grassroots at its best. Good for Jonathan for keeping the spotlight on this issue.

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  • Russell April 17, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Where do I send my money?

    A hearty \”thanks for the hard work\” to all the people involved in putting this together. I\’m sorry that I missed it.

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  • wsbob April 17, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    I can\’t help but be excited about this latest development. It will be very interesting to hear more specific details about how the commissioners together with contractor Kuney, proceeded to sew up this deal.

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  • John Russell April 17, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    EPIC WIN! At least we hope it will be.

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  • Tony Fuentes April 18, 2008 at 1:30 am

    This is great news!

    Saltzman\’s concerns regarding the contracting process and potential for significant cost overruns rang true for a lot of folks (well, they did for me at least). I hate to be a pessimist but the original plan for a non-competitive bid with the chance that the price could escalate by 20 percent without Council oversight smelled like trouble.

    Hopefully we can now get a great bridge and avoid a financial mess that would\’ve reflected poorly on future bike infrastructure plans. Kudos to Saltzman and Sam for getting us there.

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  • Kris April 18, 2008 at 4:38 am

    Very exciting news! Even more exciting is that this will help jump-start the development of the Flanders Street Bike Boulevard with about 4-5 years. And if the bridge is effectively in place by December, someone should throw a New Year\’s Party on the new Flanders Bridge! Urban Wineworks is just across the street, right?!

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  • Moo April 18, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Maybe the Tram and water bureau debacles of the past actually taught the council something for once. I\’m glad Saltzman stepped lightly on this…sounds like it will all work out in the end.

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  • DJ Hurricane April 18, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Victory is sweet. Portland values prevail.

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  • Mmann April 18, 2008 at 8:03 am

    For all the complaining we do about \”politics,\” it\’s nice to know that sometimes it works just like it\’s supposed to. Good job to all involved. I\’ll let my breath out when the votes are actually cast.

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  • Jessica Roberts April 18, 2008 at 8:52 am

    That\’s great news. I\’m glad they\’ve worked something out, and I think the result may be stronger for it. Thanks, Dan.

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  • Stripes April 18, 2008 at 8:53 am

    To say thanks to Commissioner Saltzman for his support on this great project –

    Dan Saltzman
    Portland City Commissioner
    1221 SW 4th Ave. Rm. 230
    Phone: 503 823-4151
    Fax: 503.823.3036
    email: dan {at} ci.portland.or.us

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  • Jessica Roberts April 18, 2008 at 8:53 am

    p.s. don\’t forget to drop him a note of thanks: dsaltzman@ci.portland.or.us

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  • Jessica Roberts April 18, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Ooops, I think Stripes and I were writing at the same time! But we have different email addresses? Maybe they both work.

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  • joeb April 18, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Wow, good feelings toward Adams, Saltzman and Kuney. Nice work.

    Russel #3, This is a good place to send some money:

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  • J-On-Bike April 18, 2008 at 9:35 am

    I\’ve got very mixed feeling about this issue.

    My rhetorical questions to bridge supporters out there…

    Is there a cost to this project that would make you/us (individually or collectively) say that the cost of relocating the bridge is just not worth it?

    We are bicyclists, sure. But we are citizens of this city and we should promote (IMHO) sound fiscal decision making and oversight which doesn\’t seem to happen too often in this city.

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  • encephalopath April 18, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Why is Randy Leonard quoted in The Mercury yesterday saying the project is dead?

    Can some one get an update from his office?

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  • encephalopath April 18, 2008 at 10:03 am

    No wait… he said the opposite:

    \”However, I do not believe that this worthy idea is dead. It is my opinion that Commissioner Saltzman’s No vote was based on legitimate concerns that both Commissioner Adams and I can positively address soon.\”

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  • joeb April 18, 2008 at 10:05 am

    J-On-Bike, it is a good question and one I ask myself every time I pay $6 for a gallon of local organic milk when Safeway advertises Lucerne at $1.99. Can I afford to pay the extra cost to support the local economy of farmers that use sustainable practices? Can I afford not to? Most of the time I consider the Gulf Coast Dead Zone, and lakes of waste from factory farms and answer no to the last question. But when the price tag gets high, it is difficult to do the right thing.

    To me that is what the discussion of this bridge is about. The City may save an estimated $1.5 million, in today\’s dollars, but the cost to society to scrap the existing bridge, manufacture something new and to forego several years of benefit that this existing bridge will offer makes the decision for me. The more I hear about this project, the more I like it.

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  • jonno April 18, 2008 at 10:20 am

    encephalopath (#17)

    Are you referring to this link:


    Leonard sez:

    \”However, I do not believe that this worthy idea is dead. It is my opinion that Commissioner Saltzman’s No vote was based on legitimate concerns that both Commissioner Adams and I can positively address soon.\”

    You had me worried there, but it looks like Leonard is still a supporter.

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  • jonno April 18, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Oops, looks like your follow-up got held up for moderation. Carry on…

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  • wsbob April 18, 2008 at 10:26 am

    J-On-Bike, now that the commissioners and contractor have resolved to establish a firm cost as a condition for moving the bridge, might it not be a good idea to wait and hear what that cost will be before casting too much doubt about going forward with the project?

    That, to me, seems like sound fiscal decision making and oversight.

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  • J-On-Bike April 18, 2008 at 11:04 am


    When i consider making a major purchase (home, sofa, tv, new bicycle)…

    I go into the situation with a budget and a maximum cost that I can afford. If the item costs more than I can afford or want to pay – then I don\’t buy it. I find an acceptable lower cost solution or I decide to live without it and buy groceries instead.

    I don\’t feel like that approach is being done in this instance. Granted an economic cost/benefit analysis on public infrastructure is a much fuzzier proposition. But all I seem to hear is \”we want the span relocated. it is worth it.\”

    I\’m not the most creative person, but couldn\’t $1.5 million buy a lot of covered bicycle structures parking at schools and in commercial areas?

    I\’m sure other people would have great ideas of how $1.5 million (or more…) could be used to replace car drivers with bicyclists.

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  • blogmayor April 18, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Boy, are you people dumb!

    Sam totally caved to Salt Boy. Anytime a Commissioner gives stentorian support to an issue and attaches the same conditions raised in opposition it is the kiss of death. Every for-bid contract Saltzman demanded must come before Council. How many will be approved? If approved, how long will the process take?

    Give this dingbat process/project a decent burial!

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  • Russell April 18, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    J-On-Bike –

    I\’ve done some rough figuring in other threads about the cost of this bridge versus a new bridge in the future and will quickly reiterate the points I\’ve come up with.

    1) The funds are not fully transferable. TIF cannot be associated with another project. The SDC funds are for the Pearl District area and have already been slated to this project. And the federal funds are specifically for a project like this.

    2) The Sauvie span is twice the bridge for only 1.5m more IN TODAY\’S DOLLARS.

    3) The new bridge was slated for being built in a number of years (I\’ve heard 5 years thrown around a lot so lets run with that). If inflation of construction costs only goes up at a rate matching the CPI (roughly 3% per year) then the bridge will cost about $3.72. However, construction costs in 12/07 were 140% of the costs in 12/03, which translates to approximately 8.6ish% inflation each year. Running that forward 5 years the bridge would cost around $4.8m ($0.7m less than the Sauvie Bridge). This approach though does not account for the fact that the Association of General Contractors of America (AGC) has economists who suggest construction costs are going to dramatically increase in the next few years. If we look at inflation around 10-12%, the cost of the new bridge 5 years from now matches the cost of the Sauvie Island Bridge today.

    4) The $3.2m is an estimate and looking at point #3 you could see wild fluctuations in the actual cost.

    Most importantly, I think that we need to let the system work for right now. We need to see where negotiations and bidding take us. It is good that in this case they already have a plan, so this won\’t go through a wasteful RFP/RFQ process.

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  • Matt Picio April 18, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    J-On-Bike (#16) – For me, the cost is too high if it is more than 50% higher than the cost of an equivalent new bridge. (meaning a 30\’ wide bridge)

    Other than that, I think joeb articulated the point particularly well.

    J-On-Bike (#23) – $1.5 million would buy a heckuva lot of stuff, it we could use it for that, but we can\’t. Those funds are earmarked for specific locations and purposes and the restrictions have to be abided by, the same way that you can\’t use food stamps to buy clothes at Fred Meyer, even though FM sells groceries.

    And Russell illustrates the inflationary cost perfectly. If that wasn\’t bad enough, the Sauvie bridge option lets us use the bridge for four of the five years we\’d be waiting for a new one. It\’s difficult to put a monetary value on that aspect.

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  • Stripes April 18, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    I have heard rumors about something called Pinot Pedal coming up soon, which will be a benefit for the new bridge.

    Anybody have any leads on this?

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  • wsbob April 18, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    J-On-Bike, I appreciate your budgetary thriftiness. Especially since officials haven\’t had definite cost comparisons of the options for Flanders, it\’s understandable that people are going have concerns about whether this novel approach is the way to go. The fact that the 1.5 million dollar figure (the suggested amount that re-use of the 30\’ wide Sauvie span, installed within the next year, would cost over that of a new 15\’ span 5-6 years from now) has been vague has added to this problem.

    Contractors don\’t seem to be banging on the doors of city hall with counter bids to construct a bridge that would beat Kuney\’s deal for 5.5 to 6.8 million. Not even a peep from anyone else. That might mean a number of things, but one likely possibility, is that a contractor that can do the job better, for less money, doesn\’t exist.

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  • J-On-Bike April 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    $1.5 million (or more) doesn\’t come from nowhere – if I can translate, monies are not earmarked for this site or this purpose (bicycle bridge). Read Potter\’s statement (scroll to the bottom):

    There are other projects that could be done with this money. There is a budget to live within (theoretically).

    Lastly, I only ride btw Pearl/23rd street once in a while (to get my hair cut every 5-6 weeks). I always ride on Johnson. I avoid Lovejoy, Everett, Glisan. I\’ve never had any problems via this route. It\’s rather quiet and pleasant IMHO. Has there been a proposal to make Johnson a bicycle boulevard? And it would cost…next to nothing?

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  • Russell April 18, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    J-On-Bike #29 – Potter\’s statements are wrong. The TIF funds are not earmarked for this project, but are project specific. TIF funds come out of the ability to take out a bond on the future increase of surrounding property values DUE TO the project (i.e. building something that benefits the surrounding area increases the value of the surrounding area). The SDC funds were paid into by developers in that area to support infrastructure improvement. There was a lengthy process allocating funds from the SDC to specific projects. Mayor Potter approved this list, one of which was $2m to a pedestrian/bicycle bridge at Flanders St. Lastly, the federal funds are only for projects of this type (historic, environmental, and iconic).

    Yes, Johnson isn\’t half bad. Johnson and Flanders would both make excellent bicycle boulevards. Both are supposed to become bicycle boulevards, eventually (as I understand it). Johnson, however, has little connectivity to the Waterfront and cannot be made to do so. Flanders can more easily be used to connect to to the Waterfront without using a circuitous route through NW. For me, a strong and experienced cyclist, an extra mile is not a big deal. To a new cyclist an extra mile might mean taking the car.

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  • Bryan April 19, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    If you think this will ever be anything but a no bid contract think again. Kuney Construction is the only company in a position to place a bid seeing how they are the ones removing it. Any other company will have to deal with additional expenses.

    This is just some dishonest attempt to make everyone think Saltzman is a little more _______ you fill in the friggin blank.

    I can\’t believe how easily you people are fooled!

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  • wsbob April 19, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Bryan, after reading editor Maus\’s latest story suggesting Saltzman\’s will concede to support the bridge project, I saw a little blurb in the Oregonian yesterday saying that process would again involve the city buying the bridge back from Kuney followed by a solicitation of bids, accepted as Maus reported, on a guaranteed price from whoever is awarded the contract.

    pland to turn Sauvie Island Bridge into new pedestrian walkway perks up again Oregonian

    Will this condition for proceeding turn out to be anything but a delaying tactic that kills the deal? I hope not.

    What makes you so sure it will be a \’no bid\’ contract Bryan? Do you have some relevant experience in construction bidding and potential bidders to this project that would allow you to make a credible judgment about that point?

    By the way Bryan…or, is it \”undertaxed\”? Your words sound very much like those of \”undertaxed\” in the comments following the linked article above.

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  • bigdawg April 20, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Another council member takes his bribe in stride with the leader of the pack Samual Adams KICK BACK KICK BACK Danny Boy just wanted his fair share of the contractor kick backs OH Yes Portland It is Happening n your City, I\’ve have sat and watch and can tell you how it works if any one wants to hear it

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  • bigdawg April 20, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    too wsbob

    I will step in and say yes yes I do have the experience of construction and the bidding process that all to often gets but on the side especially when the contractor of choice already has the vital information of what the top dollar amount is going to be acceptable, I have worked on most of the nations military bases on the west coast and can tell you that Kick backs get the jobs


    go ahead Jonathan omit my blogs stand up and show the people you are as ignorant as the rest of them

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