Portland Mayor Tom Potter has issued a statement clarifying his opposition to the plan to re-use the Sauvie Island Bridge span as a human-powered vehicle crossing over I-405 in Northwest Portland.
Perhaps wanting to build some momentum for his position — which will make him the lone dissenter to the plan when it comes up to City Council next week — Potter renewed his previous arguments against the project, and he shared a new one.
Here’s the short statement posted to his website yesterday (emphasis mine):
“The debate isn’t about sustainability, our commitment to bicyclists and pedestrians, or safety. The debate is about our priorities and how we spend at least $5.5 million when our streets need basic maintenance, and some neighborhoods still can’t get sidewalks built.
This bridge will give the Pearl District three overpasses in a three-block span – while Cully still waits for sidewalks. And while one accident anywhere is one accident too many, the N.W. Flanders site is not on PDOT’s list of dangerous intersections for either autos, bikes or pedestrians.“
But it’s Potter’s new argument, in the last sentence, that’s interesting.
Potter states that NW Flanders is not on PDOT’s list of dangerous intersections. That is true. NW Flanders is a lower-volume, lower-speed street compared to its ugly cousins — Everett and Glisan. However, that’s precisely why the street has been pegged as a future bicycle boulevard.
In addition, Potter’s claim that, “the N.W. Flanders site” isn’t on the dangerous intersection list doesn’t compute because the site in question isn’t even an intersection (yet).
Potter’s statement seems to make it clear that he’s not necessarily opposed to the re-use idea, but that he’s opposed to any human-powered traffic crossing at Flanders now or in the future (or at least until East Portland gets a few more sidewalks, but by that time he’ll have pedaled his recumbent off into the sunset).
Despite the fact that a broad coalition of neighborhood advocates say they need a safe and comfortable bike and pedestrian crossing at that location, Potter himself has voted in favor of funding one.
In 2002, when the NW Flanders bike boulevard (which included a bike/ped only crossing over I-405) came up as a compromise in the Burnside-Couch couplet project, Potter voted in favor of the idea.
Back in November, a list of specific projects to be funded by Transportation System Development Charges came before City Council ($2 million of the Sauvie project’s $5.5 million budget will come from TSDCs).
Included on that list was the following line item: “NW Flanders Bicycle Facility – Develop a bicycle and pedestrian crossing of I-405.” Potter voted yes back then, but now it seems like he’s changed his mind.
— Commissioners Adams, Leonard, and Saltzman will hold a press conference in Northwest Portland today (4/25) to announce their plan to make this project happen. More event details here.
— For more on the Sauvie Islan Bridge/Flanders Street Crossing story, read my archives. Also check out my Sauvie Span Newswire — a list of links to local media coverage of the story (including today’s extensive article in the Portland Tribune).