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Commissioners release details of Sauvie Island Bridge re-use plan

Posted by on April 23rd, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Sauvie Island Strawberry Ride

The Sauvie Island Bridge span —
which now sits 11 miles north of
downtown Portland and connects
Highway 30 to Sauvie Island — is
headed to Northwest Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus)

In a press release from City Hall this afternoon, PDOT announced that City Commissioners Sam Adams, Dan Saltzman, and Randy Leonard have agreed on a course of action that will put the Sauvie Island Bridge re-use plan up for a second City Council vote on May 7th.

If all goes according to plan, PDOT and Kuney will begin work on the project — which will relocate the span and put it to use as a bicycle and pedestrian crossing over I-405 at NW Flanders Street — on June 6th.

PDOT also announced they’ll hold a press conference on Friday to announce details of the plan.

When the project first came up at Council, it did not muster the necessary votes to pass. This was due in part because of Commissioner Saltzman’s concerns about a sole-source (no-bid) contract between PDOT and Kuney Construction (they own the bridge and were slated to complete the project).

After several days of negotiations with Adams, Saltzman issued a statement last Friday vowing his support for the project under certain conditions.

The plan detailed by the Commissioners today meets those conditions. It still awards the main part of the project to Kuney, but at a guaranteed maximum price cap. Then, a second part of the project calls for a competitive bid process.

PDOT says the relocation will occur in two phases.

The first phase — which includes dismantling the bridge from its current location, re-painting it, moving it to NW Flanders and installing it — will be done by Kuney Construction for a “guaranteed maximum price of $3.913 million”. The ordinance also states that Kuney will “incur any unforeseen cost increases, if they arise.”

The second phase of the project — which includes preparation of the site at NW Flanders, construction of the bridge foundations, and installation of a traffic signal — will go out to a competitive bid.

The ordinance also states that the City will enter into the contract with Kuney only, “upon receipt of all funds necessary to complete the project,” which PDOT estimates will be June 25.

The project’s $5.5 million cost estimate has not changed. Sources for funding 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 ordinance will receive its first reading at City Council next Wednesday (4/30) with the second reading a week later (5/7). It will go into effect 30 days after the vote.

With three of the four Commissioners (usually there are five, but Commissioner Sten’s seat is vacant) behind the plan, it is assured passage. The only real question that remains is whether or not Potter will reverse his opposition to the plan.

More info:
View the press release
Press conference announcement’s full coverage of this project

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39 thoughts on “Commissioners release details of Sauvie Island Bridge re-use plan”

  1. Avatar Lillian says:

    All I have to say is: YAY!

    Hopefully it\’ll be up by December.

  2. Avatar erin g. says:

    Organized community action is undoubtedly part of what drove this exciting development. Great job to all who worked hard on last week\’s press conference and site tours! It will be exciting to see what happens next. Thank you for the update, Jonathan!

    Erin G.
    \’We are ALL Traffic\’ coalition

  3. Avatar Clark says:

    Seems like a good deal… for Kuney.

    What other improvements can be had for the same $5.5 million?

  4. Avatar JCW says:

    another point of proof as to why everyone needs to be sure to fill in your ballots and VOTE FOR SAM next month! I\’ve watched almost every debate and have yet to see Donozo offer one specific example of anything he would try and accomplish (can you say \”Potter\”). Love him or hate him – at least we all know Sam will make things happen!

  5. Avatar peejay says:

    one vote for progress!

  6. Avatar peejay says:

    Ewwww! I just clicked over to the moronic bridge editorial at the Tribune – um, thanks, Jonathan – and read down through the comments section. I think I need to take a bath.

  7. Avatar J-On-Bike says:

    Jonathan –

    Are you quoting the PRESS RELEASE or the PROCUREMENT DOCUMENT?

    The procurement document I saw contains no such language like “guaranteed maximum price of $3.913 million.” Only the press-release. The procurement document only says \”approximately $3.913 million.\”

    The procurement document that I saw did NOT have a statement to the effect that Kuney will “incur any unforeseen cost increases, if they arise.” Only the press-release said that.

    If the strong statements in the press-release exists in an \”contractually enforceable document\” could you please share?

  8. Avatar Mike says:

    What would be nice is if instead of keeping the entire bridge surface as concrete, having plantings and trees in the added space. Perhaps have the riding surface meander a little also while crossing the bridge.

  9. \”Are you quoting the PRESS RELEASE or the PROCUREMENT DOCUMENT?


    I\’m quoting the press release.

    The procurement document is from the Office of Management and Finance. The language in the press release is what will be included in the actual ordinance to be voted on by City Council.

    To my knowledge, when the ordinance passes, it will be \”contractually enforceable\”… but I\’m not 100% clear on this.

    Perhaps someone from Adams\’ office or someone with more knowledge of such things will chime in…

  10. Avatar DJ Hurricane says:

    I think it\’s important to make a distinction between the press release and the ordinance – they\’re not the same thing. I\’m curious as to how you know which specific statements from the press release will be in the ordinance? And we don\’t have the text of the ordinance?

    As I read the press release, the ordinance passing makes the requirement to enter into a contract contingent on funding. So that would mean that there can be nothing enforceable until the funding is in place. But without seeing the ordinance, it\’s difficult to know for sure.

  11. Avatar Shoshanah says:

    The Ordinance gives PDOT the ability to enter into a contract with Kuney for the guaranteed maximum price of $3.913 million to decommission, move, remove the lead paint, repaint and install the bridge.

    The procurement document serves a different purpose. OMF must give public notice of a sole source contract for services.

    Hope that helps.

    Thanks for your support of this great project.

  12. thanks for that Shoshanah.

    For those interested, below is the text from the procurement document:


    The following sole source procurement is hereby published in accordance with City Code 5.33.120.C. This notice
    was posted on April 23, 2008 and shall remain posted for a minimum of seven (7) days prior to contract award.

    Procurement Description: The City of Portland, Office of Transportation (PDOT) requires the move of the center
    span of the old Sauvie Island Bridge to the Port of Portland Terminal 2 in order to perform lead abatement and
    repainting of the bridge span in preparation for its final move to NW Flanders Street over I-405.

    Max J. Kuney Construction is currently under contract with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to
    build the new Sauvie Island Bridge and as part of that contract they are to disassemble and remove the old Sauvie
    Island Bridge. Once decommissioned, the old Sauvie Island Bridge will become the property of Kuney Construction
    as part of their contract with ODOT.

    PDOT intends to carry out the work to relocate the bridge in two (2) phases under two (2) separate contracts. Phase
    One includes moving the bridge from Sauvie Island to Port of Portland Terminal 2, removing and disposing of the
    existing lead-based paint, repainting the bridge, moving the bridge to NW Flanders over I-405, and completing the
    installation. Phase Two includes building new bridge foundations at I-405 at NW Flanders Street, site preparation,
    and traffic signal installation. Phase Two will be competitively bid.

    Therefore, the City intends to enter into an agreement(s) with Max J. Kuney Construction for Phase One and to
    transfer ownership of the bridge to the City of Portland. The amount to complete Phase One of the project is
    approximately $3.913 million

    Justification: As per City Code 5.33.120 A. 4 the City has determined that Max J. Kuney Construction is the only
    contractor able to perform this remedial work due to their existing contractual relationship and current work with
    ODOT on the Sauvie Island Bridge. Max J. Kuney Construction is uniquely knowledgeable about the Sauvie Island
    bridge structure and therefore singularly qualified to carry out the work required for Phase One.

    Any firm with questions regarding this procurement may contact the Bureau of Purchases, Christine Moody,
    Purchasing Manager, 503-823-1095 or

    In accordance with PCC 5.33.710 any firm adversely affected by the award of contract shall have seven (7) days
    from the issuance of this sole source notice to file a protest. The protest must be filed in writing to the Purchasing
    Agent and must specify the grounds upon which the protest is based. The Purchasing Agent shall not consider a
    protest submitted after the timeline established in this Notice of Intent to make a sole source purchase. Any protest
    must include the following information:

    • Sufficient information to identify this notice of intent to make a sole source purchase;
    • A detailed statement of all the legal and factual grounds for the protest;
    • Evidence or supporting documentation that supports the grounds on which the protest is based;
    • A description of the resulting harm to the affected person;
    • The relief request.

    The Purchasing Agent will review the protest and issue a written decision.

  13. Avatar wsbob says:

    Fascinating. The project budget leaves approximately $1.5 million remaining after the phase 1 part of the project that Kuney may undertake, for site preparation, construction of bridge foundations and installation of traffic signals, to be competitively bid.

    I wonder if that work can be done for $1.5 million, and if that could be determined before signing off on the dotted line for this deal. I still am enthusiastic about use of the Sauvie span at Flanders, but given the range of concerns regarding expense priorities, it would be nice to know for sure how much money is going out on this deal before proceeding.

  14. Avatar kaysee says:

    The Ordinance gives PDOT the ability to enter into a contract with Kuney for the guaranteed maximum price of $3.913 million to decommission, move, remove the lead paint, repaint and install the bridge.

    The procurement document serves a different purpose. OMF must give public notice of a sole source contract for services.

    What about unanticipated consequences? What if the bridge sinks when Kunty is floating it down the river?

    Or what happens if the cost goes over? Kunty just eats it?

    Nifty idea to be sure – but what happens if things go awry? The ordinance says a maximum price – but if we can\’t get that price what happens? We just hold on to the bridge until someone honors the price?

    I for one don\’t want to be stuck paying for this bridge at the expense of bike blvds or other things we really need across the city.

  15. Avatar Matthew Denton says:

    \”What about unanticipated consequences? What if the bridge sinks when Kunty is floating it down the river? Or what happens if the cost goes over? Kunty just eats it?\”

    Yep. Pretty much the same thing that happens in most other contracts if something unexpected happens. For instance, if the city hired a contractor, (instead of PDOT employees,) to install the bike boxes, and one of the workers got hit and killed by a car while they were doing it, the company would be looking at a very very large payout to the employee\’s family and a lot of other issues, but the city wouldn\’t be out that $2M, it would be the contractor. And they\’d have to eat it: That is why they have insurance, and why they try to make a profit on their contracts, so that when something unexpected happens, they don\’t go bankrupt…

    Now, there may be other outs in the contract: Kuney may not be able to bill for more money than the agreed upon price, but they could just refund the money and give up. For instance, if the bridge sinks, (and they can\’t salvage it, which would be very surprising given that the river isn\’t that deep and the coast guard probably wouldn\’t let them leave it in the middle of the channel anyways,) then Kuney might just give up, but the city isn\’t out anything: Exactly like if you order something online and the store never delivers it, you go to your credit card company and get your money back…

  16. Avatar woogie says:


    So basically they are not voting on a complete project? No foundations to hold the bridge, no site prep to install the bridge included in this contract.

    Sounds to me like they are trying to put one over. Provide a contract for a dollar amount that comes in under what has been quoted time and again just to make it look like it\’s a bargain.

    So in reality, at this time the COMPLETE project has a cost of $5.4 million, with only $3.9 million guaranteed to stay within budget.

    So Kuney, if they are smart will bid on the second contract, and push any cost overruns into that project, where I am sure there won\’t be a set maximum cost.

    The entire project needs to be part of this vote, not a subset that makes the numbers look good.

    City Commissioners Sam Adams, Dan Saltzman, and Randy Leonard are pulling a fast one here.

  17. Avatar ralph says:


    I know you support the Sauvie bridge movement but stating \”The Sauvie Island Bridge span —which now sits 11 miles north ofPortland and connects Highway 30
    to Sauvie Island — is headed to Northwest Portland.\”, under the photo accompanying the article is incorrect.

    The bridge MAY be headed to Northwest Portland, it is not a given at this point.

  18. Avatar Matt Picio says:

    woogie (#17) – they *are* voting on a complete project. The ordinance will contain language for both contracts. Kuney is guaranteed the first contract due to the fact that they have extensive detailed knowledge of the bridge and the site where it currently sits. That\’s why the city has to cap the cost on that contract. The second contract will have a competetive bid process – no contractor currently has detailed information about the I-405 site, whoever is going to take on that task has no advantage over other bidders. It\’s not a given that Kuney will get the 2nd contract.

    The press release spells it all out quite clearly. No one is trying to \”pull a fast one\”.

  19. Avatar Spanky says:

    1.5 million to complete it? That\’s a laugh. Anyone remember the aerial tram fiasco? Can you say \”cost overruns?\”

    I wonder where the dough to actually complete it (on the ground, not on paper) will come from?

    I am also a bit unnerved by the hurry behind the project. Would it have been cheaper and more prudent for the city to buy and store the bridge while getting abetter handle on costs and funding sources? Or was there a reason the city had to jump on it now? I guess these questions are academic now.

  20. Avatar bahueh says:

    complete waste of money…this will turn out just like the tram did…Adams backpedaled on that too when it got to a point of fiscal no return…

  21. Avatar DJ Hurricane says:

    Boy, you know you have *zero credibility* when you call the tram a waste of money. Do you have any idea how many motor vehicle trips the tram has saved since it began operation? No, of course you don\’t.

    What is it with this bizarre attitude that everything the City does to try to improve transportation and reduce reliance on the SOV must be a waste of money? It\’s almost like these folks are trying to remain willfully ignorant of the facts and the broader policy goals.

    The only people pulling a fast one here is the petroleum lobby – on you!

  22. \”The bridge MAY be headed to Northwest Portland, it is not a given at this point.\”

    I hear you.. and I actually paused and thought about that caption before I wrote it.

    But in taking a second look, I feel like it should stay. The bridge is coming to NW Portland. Council has the votes…and barring some barge mishap I don\’t see what\’s wrong with that statement.

    I appreciate your feedback.

  23. Avatar wsbob says:

    Woogie, I can\’t exactly answer your questions, but the figures seem consistent with what\’s been reported about this project all along. Projected cost for use of the Sauvie span has always been reported to be about $5.5 million. A big difference here, is that contractor Kuney, if he signs this contract, will be guaranteeing a price of $3.913 million for the part of the job, phase 1, corresponding to that price in the procurement document.

    I do seem to have had the impression from previous reports, that Kuney may have previously set for the entire project at $5.5 million dollars, with a provision allowing him to bill up to an additional $1.3 million as needed for cost adjustments. That seems to have been eliminated in this current proposal.

    It would be very good if the city can get a guaranteed bid of approximately $1.5 million for phase two/ site prep, foundations and traffic signals. Doing so would make a lot of people more comfortable in feeling that city council is doing its best to keep this project fiscally responsible.

    It\’s unfortunate that people routinely raise cost estimate issues associated with the tram to undermine credibility of the city\’s efforts to make needed improvements. Personally, I still have some doubts about the tram, but irresponsible budgeting for it is probably not one of them. What I\’ve heard, and what makes sense to me, is that the tram\’s cost was not really unreasonable for that kind of facility. The city needed some means to overcome the natural inaccessibility created by the medical complex location up on the hill: now, it has the tram.

    Really, the big problem with the tram project, was that members of city council and their staff did not do an adequate job of getting accurate cost estimates for the project as it developed, resulting in final cost figures that were at odds with them. This is the very reason that city council should work hard to get a firm price on phase two of the Sauvie Island span re-use project before signing off on the deal. Cost over-runs do not add to a projects overall success.

  24. Avatar J-On-Bike says:

    The tram! The tram!
    The tram is the bellwether for the ability of our city/community leaders to complete projects within a budget.

    The politicians/leaders chose to willfully ignore all indications that the tram would have significant cost overruns.

    As for broader policy goals, according to my reading of the City of Portland budget…the City has allocated $340M this year to *service* our debt. Not to retire our debt.

    The bicycle community tends to be a thrifty and progressive bunch of folks who\’d like to stick it to the man. If the City of Portland is paying $340M per annum to large financial institutions/bond holders it doesn\’t sit well with me in the age of the subprime-mortgage meltdown, rise in cost of goods and energy and the enormous national debt (err halliburton profits) due to the war.

    And we have a larger interest in making sure that the City of Portland leaders/politicians manage debt wisely. I\’m not so naive as to think that a city can be debt free. But Portland has reached $340M in debt service per annum (up $12M from the year prior) and shows no sign of changing our borrowing ways… $340M are tax dollars (and fees) that do not go back into our city to promote sustainable living and basic services for Portland residents.

    To bring this back to the bridge…if $2M was the budgeted/anticipated cost of this bridge…then the progressive thrifty bicycle community should try to be as good as our word and not advocate nearly *tripling* the cost of the project.

  25. Avatar Axe says:

    I assume that Kuney would need to sign off on phase one of this deal, right? Is there a chance they\’ll balk at the clause putting any unforeseen cost increases on them? Have they commented on this compromise plan yet?

  26. Avatar ralph says:


    \”Would it have been cheaper and more prudent for the city to buy and store the bridge while getting abetter handle on costs and funding sources? Or was there a reason the city had to jump on it now?\”

    The bridge issue is being pushed through because Kuney needs an answer.

    Once it comes down they have to either recycle it or prep it for installation. They don\’t have a provision for storage.

    The city had two years to make a decision, and should have put the project out to an open bid. Instead they sat on it and are now forced to make a last minute decision with all these issues unresolved.

    I don\’t even want to think about how long it would take to get a plan in place, and the cost, if the city bought the thing and put it in storage.

  27. \”Is there a chance they\’ll balk at the clause putting any unforeseen cost increases on them…

    Have they commented on this compromise plan yet?\”

    The only way this whole plan works is because Kuney — like Sam Adams and other backers of the project — believes in it and is willing to go the extra mile to make it happen.

    They have been involved in coming up with this plan since day one.

    Guaranteed maximum price, waiting for all the funds to come in before entering the contract… that type of stuff is unheard for a company like Kuney.

    However, because they think the project is worthwhile they are willing to do their part to make it work.

  28. Avatar wsbob says:

    I don\’t think Kuney is going to balk. I believe a good contractor can nail down the cost for this kind of project fairly closely. For contractors, a unique, successfully accomplished high visibility project such as the Sauvie Island span at Flanders St will be a star on their cap. I feel like Kuney, if he accepts the deal, will do everything his company can to make the project go as smooth as possible.

  29. Avatar Russell says:

    J-On-Bike –
    The projected cost of the cheaper, 15-foot wide bridge was $3.2m NOT $2m. The $2,300k was to come from a the SDC funds, while the rest of the funding would still come from TIF and other funding sources. That means that the Sauvie Island reuse is slated at being 50% more expensive than the cheaper option, not a 200% increase, as you claim.

    To those people talking about the Tram:

    The tram was a travesty due to its design. I will readily admit that the City was woefully ignorant to approve such a design. The main issue was that the tram is not anchored into bedrock, like a ski-lift would be, instead two towers have to support the weight of the cables and trams, the torque of its operating, and forces created by wind. Had the design been to anchor the tram into bedrock it would have, most likely, come in at the projected price.

  30. Avatar GLV says:

    \”and barring some barge mishap I don\’t see what\’s wrong with that statement.\”

    It\’s not 11 miles north of Portland. It\’s about 1 mile north of Linnton, which is in Portland. It\’s 11 miles from DOWNTOWN Portland.

  31. Avatar Stripes says:

    This is wonderful news!

    I look forward very much to a much safer bicycle, pedestrian, and running connection to and from work etc every day coming soon!! With all of the new folks moving into that neighborhood, & all of the new folks needing to get to downtown, I think this will be a major catalyst to help them get out of their cars & get moving.


  32. Avatar Matthew Denton says:

    #24: The amount of debt the city has is an issue that we should care about, but it needs to be put into perspective. The city is spending billions of dollars on sewage system improvements, (so that we don\’t dump sewage into the river when it rains,) and there are two ways to pay for that: raise sewer rates and save up the money and then do the project, all the while paying huge EPA fines every time it rains, or go into debt to pay for the project and raise sewer rates to pay off the debt, (and not have to pay huge EPA fines every time it rains.) Yes, what the city did makes the debt service line item on the budget look pretty big, but it is cheaper (in the long run) than saving up the money until we could fund it without going into debt.

    There are other sources of debt too: When people, (say, in East Portland,) get together with their neighbors and decide to pave their street/put in sidewalks/etc, that often costs a lot of money, (which those people don\’t have all at once,) and since the city can borrow money for less than most homeowners, (about 2% less,) the city lends the money to those people so that they can pay for the improvements. Yes, there is a risk people could default on those loans, but the city is actually first in line on the assets, (before the mortgage companies,) so the city isn\’t very worried about that. And given that people are specifically making payments to the city to pay for those loans, those loans, and how big or small they are, are unrelated to the rest of the city budget.

    So when talking about the amount of debt that the city has, it should be broken down into debt that we wouldn\’t have if we\’d just spend less money in general, and debt related to specific projects with a specific plans to pay it off.

  33. Avatar Huebert says:

    Spanky, stole my thunder. Let\’s see, water bureau computer system, big pipe project, free WiFi system, the tram, not a single one of these projects have come in on time and within budget. Nice explanation on the tram and bedrock, but the contractors and engineers should have known that well before contracts were handed out.

    I\’ll put my estimate on the cost of the project here and now: $11.0M. So where will the other $5.5M come from? Nice idea, good intentions, but fiscally irresponsible.

  34. Avatar GLV says:

    \”free WiFi system\”

    Came in exactly on budget. It cost the City zero dollars. (ok, a little bit of staff time, but that guy would have been paid anyway)

  35. Avatar DJ Hurricane says:

    And the big pipe project was a court-mandated solution to water pollution.

    As usual with the anti-infrastructure types, ignorance abounds.

  36. Avatar East Portlander says:

    The vast majority of PDOT and TriMet projects come in at or under budget. Citing the tram as an indication of where the Sauvie Island bridge project will head is highly misleading. Even if the tram, which is a rare project that exceeded its budget, was a boondoggle, we have an excellent alternative to automobile travel that is reducing our nation\’s reliance on foreign oil, reducing local air pollution, enhancing our skyline and sense of place, and reducing our contribution to global warming.

    At 5.5 million, this project is vastly improving bike access to the Northwest neighborhood from all other communities in the city. Contrary to popular belief, benefits of an infrastructure project such as this extend beyond the confines of the neighborhood it\’s located in.

    This is a smart reuse of an existing resource. The bridge could be recycled, but that takes even more energy consumption by transporting it to a smelter, melting it down and reforming it into other items. In short, this project embodies the Portland spirit, which is more powerful than the naysayers short-term and narrow viewpoint.

  37. Avatar wsbob says:

    Heubert #33, I\’m trying to remember why the tram towers couldn\’t be anchored to bedrock. I think it was because OHSU changed plans for a building they wanted to put up, mid-stream after the tram had been designed and the contractor had signed on to build it. Maybe someone else remembers better.

    I\’m not sure why, outside of a case of bitter sarcasm, you\’d predict that the Sauvie at Flanders project will wind up costing $11 million, without at least trying to make some explanation of how an additional $5.5 million will be required to do the site prep, bridge foundations and traffic signal installation of phase two. Officials must have been given some indication that the phase 2 work can be done for around $1.5 million. All that\’s needed to be done is for contractors to venture some degree of certainty that the work either can or can\’t be done for that amount. Determining that degree of certainty doesn\’t seem like it should be an impossible task.

  38. Avatar Aaron says:

    You might mention that Sam & Leonard will be hosting a media event tomorrow at 16th & Flanders at 3:30pm. They will announce their unified support for the bridge

  39. Aaron… did you read the article… I mentioned the press conference I have a link to the PDOT announcement of it.

    thanks for the reminder though

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