Press Release: Commissioners File Ordinance to Relocate Sauvie Island Bridge

For Immediate Release Contact: Tom Miller, 503-823-1121
April 23, 2008 Or: Shoshanah Oppenheim, 503-823-1125


(PORTLAND, OR) – The Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) announced today that City Commissioners Sam Adams, Randy Leonard, and Dan Saltzman will together file a City Ordinance that authorizes the City to acquire the center span of the Sauvie Island Bridge and relocate it from its current location to Northwest Flanders Street.

The relocation will occur in two phases. Phase One will include four action items:
— Deconstruct the center span from its current location;
— Barge the span upriver the Willamette River to the Port of Portland’s Terminal 2;
— At T2, strip the span of its lead-based paint and repaint; and
— Move the span from T2 to NW Flanders Street and install it for use.

Phase Two will include three action items:
— Prepare the site at NW Flanders;
— Construct the bridge foundations; and
— Install a traffic safety signal.

Phase One will be completed by the bridge’s current owner, Max J. Kuney Construction, for a guaranteed maximum price of $3.913 million. Kuney will incur any unforeseen cost increases, if they arise. Phase Two will be competitively bid out to the lowest qualified bidder.

The ordinance directs the City to enter into contract with Kuney Construction upon receipt of all funds necessary to complete the project, projected to be June 25. Total project costs are estimated to be $5.5 million. Sources include $2 million from Transportation System Development charges; $2 million from River District Urban Renewal Tax Increment Funds; $1 million in Transportation Enhancement funds from the Oregon Department of Transportation; $500,000 from the City’s general fund as part of the Safe, Sound & Green Streets program; and private donations.

The City’s Bureau of Purchasing has determined that a sole source contract with Kuney Construction is the only way to complete the complex Phase One work. Kuney owns the bridge, acquired through a competitive bid process from Multnomah County for the project to replace the Sauvie Island Bridge. Kuney has invested months of work into the bridge replacement project. In so doing, they have unique knowledge about the bridge and how to move it. Transfer of the bridge to another contractor would entail additional expense and risk to the City.

The timing of this proposal is critical. Kuney is under contract to the Oregon Department of Transportation to remove the old bridge this summer. By federal law, Kuney may deconstruct and move the bridge only during the so-called June to August “fish window” when the work will not adversely impact aquatic species listed as threatened or endangered pursuant to the
Endangered Species Act.

“Preserving our community’s history is a value Portlanders hold dear,” said Commissioner Randy Leonard. “We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past by tearing down our heritage.”

“This is a great example of Portland’s commitment to recycling, reuse, and sustainable action,” offered Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Calling it “the largest recycling project in the city’s history,” Commissioner Adams noted that “We have a unique opportunity to use funding, most of which can be expended only for this project, to make Northwest Portland a safer, more inviting place for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike.”

The bridge is eligible for designation as a historic structure and is one of the few remaining examples of a Parker Truss bridge. The reason the County is replacing it is that the bridge approach ramps cannot support freight trucks.

This bridge relocation project will provide an important east/west connection. NW Flanders is unique in that it connects the Steel Bridge and Waterfront Park to NW 24th Avenue and the entrance to Washington Park. I-405 created a barrier between Portland’s Northwest neighborhoods and the Pearl District. The Sauvie Bridge over I-405 would help bridge this
barrier and further link these two neighborhoods.

As engineers and bicycle and pedestrian advocates have testified before Council, Burnside, Everett, and Glisan are poor bicycle routes because of high traffic volumes, speeds, and conflicts with I-405 ramp traffic. Flanders, in contrast, is a safe street and a family-friendly bike route.

The business community supports the project because increasing bicycle and pedestrian trips between the retail districts of NW 23rd Avenue and the Pearl will help businesses in both districts. Residents like this project because reusing the historic structure fits the culture of Portland. The Sauvie Bridge over I-405 at Flanders would add to the already unique character of
Northwest Portland.

“The Sauvie Bridge will stand as a beacon to Portland’s commitment to multi-modal transportation, vital neighborhoods, and sustainable practices,” said Adams.

The Ordinance for the Kuney contract will be heard by City Council on Wednesday, April 30th.
A second hearing and the vote will be Wednesday, May 7th.


Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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