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Potter offers new argument against Sauvie Bridge re-use plan

Posted by on April 25th, 2008 at 7:37 am

Sauvie Span Rally-14.jpg

Looking across NW Flanders over
I-405 — not quite an intersection, yet.
(Photo © J. Maus)

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.

We’ve heard the arguments in that first paragraph before and the facts (about funding) they allude to have been refuted here, in the Portland Mercury, and by the BTA.

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.

The Glisan overcrossing one block North of Flanders. Not exactly bike boulevard material.

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).

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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    DJ Hurricane April 25, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Potter no longer has the votes. He is not only wrong, he is IRRELEVANT.

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    Schrauf April 25, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Yeah, that is a crackup. Of course Flanders and I-405 is not a dangerous intersection, for the same reason the elevated skyway for bikes from Mt. Tabor to the zoo is not dangerous…

    And if he means the \”general area\” of Flanders, then if it is not on the dangerous list, it is probably because many cyclists avoid Everett and Glisan altogether.

    Silly argument.

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    wsbob April 25, 2008 at 8:06 am

    \”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.“ Tom Potter, mayor of Portland

    The big reason the N.W. Flanders site is not on Oregon PDOT’s list of dangerous intersections for either autos, bikes or pedestrians, seems fairly obvious: motor vehicles don\’t represent anywhere near the volume they do on, for example, Everett or Glisan, because Flanders is a 2-way street that does not allow crossing of I-405. Great numbers of cars traveling swiftly on Everette an Glisan are the danger factor on those streets. In locations where there are relatively few cars, the danger level drops dramatically.

    If Potter is prepared to implement some measure that would determine that every penny currently planned for the installation of a pedestrian/bike crossing at Flanders street can be assigned to build the sidewalks he talks about in Cully or other places considered to sorely need them, then his objection to the Flanders ped/bike crossing has some validity. Otherwise, he\’s just talking.

    If you have one, you might post a picture of the south side of the Glisan intersection(pictured above) that would show the bike lane. There is one there isn\’t there?

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    kate April 25, 2008 at 8:07 am

    There are plenty of options for cycling between the Pearl district and NW Portland. I commute between these neighborhoods for work daily, and I never have to use Glisan St. This is a ridiculous use of 5 million dollars, and I\’m surprised that so many people (including the BTA) support it.

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    Justin April 25, 2008 at 8:13 am

    I think that many of us don\’t understand how much things cost, myself included.

    $5M sounds like a lot, but not compared to any major transportation project or the more than billion dollar budget city council approves each year. It\’s expensive to build roads, sidewalks–and even more so–bridges.

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    joel April 25, 2008 at 8:31 am


    heck, i work as a bike messenger, and i go back and forth between the pearl and nw all the time, and i have no issues whatsoever riding glisan and everett.

    BUT! i realize that there are a TON of people out there who do, and also that theres a lot of people out there for whom making an easy, obvious, route from one neighborhood to the next is the key for getting cycling to click for them. say what i will about the demands of the american populace for convenience, bike routes are one area in which im willing to coddle them.

    the sauvie island bridge re-use idea may not be the most strictly or traditionally cost-effective method of providing this route, and hell, it may even be redundant. and sure, whether or not the bridge itself is iconic in its current application, or even in its potential future use, is surely debateable. but theres something to be said for the idea being conceptually INTERESTING, and a hell of a lot more attractive (conceptually and realistically) than a narrower, plainer, boring-er (!!!) bike bridge that may or may not get built years down the road. in decades past, need or desire for a bridge got us things like the st johns bridge – these days, we get things like the marquam. while i wouldnt ever compare the aesthetics of the sauvie to the st johns, id love to NOT have to compare the aesthetics of the future flanders st bike bridge to the marquam. capiche? theres something to be said for creating something that *enhances* the experience of even something as dullardsville as crossing a freeway. we have a chance to do that here, and i think we should.

    given that the money thats planned to be spent here seems to have been shown to be largely unavailable for anything BUT this project or something else in the neighborhood, as a pearl or nw portland resident, WHAT would you have it spent on that isnt already budgeted for already?

    if the sauvie reuse goes through, i will squander an extra minute or two of my valuable time getting from the pearl to nw on a delivery simply to route myself up flanders and ride over it, because it will be a welcome change from yet another generic freeway over- or underpass.

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    Ashley April 25, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Kate- that\’s great for you, but I doubt Sam Adams and the BTA would put their vote into it if a whole lot of other people didn\’t disagree with your \’plenty of cycling options\’ view.

    Potter\’s argument is butts.

    \”This bridge will give the Pearl District three overpasses in a three-block span – while Cully still waits for sidewalks.\”

    What kind of comparison is that? OMG three overpasses? That\’s not extreme if you factor in that Glisan has West bound traffic, Everett has East bound traffic-what\’s wrong with bikes and peds having a safe two way on Flanders? You can\’t make a OMG THREE overpass arguement unless the overpasses all have the same traffic flow.

    Additionally, what\’s with this?
    “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.\”

    I love that Potter is spending time diverting money from one specific project, shooting down the greenways project which would\’ve given him all the damn sidewalks and road repair you could want- to argue over $5.5 million dollars.

    The streets needs basic maintenance? Well no duh. $5.5 million is not the problem, the problem is that you\’ve made crap decisions and now you\’re trying to thieve money from any place you can scrape it. Seriously Potter, get a clue.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 25, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Ashley, your comment about the \”three overpasses\” statement is spot on.

    Lots of folks (in East Portland for instance) that hear that forget that Everett and Glisan are one-way streets… meaning a more precise statement is that there are already \”one crossing in each direction\”… not \”two crossings\”.

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    Jessica Roberts April 25, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Quoting Schrauf: Of course Flanders and I-405 is not a dangerous intersection, for the same reason the elevated skyway for bikes from Mt. Tabor to the zoo is not dangerous…

    LOL! And the you can\’t measure demand for a bridge by coun ting how many people are swimming today…or rappelling down to I-405 and dashing across.

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    bahueh April 25, 2008 at 8:56 am

    this is about a few hundred people wanting to spend 5.5M$ in a way they think benefits them and the community they feel they represent…

    however I don\’t see that community standing up to support this bridge by enlarge…yes, the people on this internet blog support it..of course they do, its a cycling advocacy webpage…
    but I hardly see any majority of the nearly 20-30,000 cycling commuters standing up for this….Maus\’s published photos of the group tours and support \”rallys\” support that claim pretty well…small group of special interests wanting to spend a ton of other people\’s cash to build a bridge that has cheaper alternatives…

    come on folks, the three bridge project on the Springwater cost only $4.7M…for THREE bridges…

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    Racer X April 25, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Perhaps it is time for a \’ped crossing action\’ across the crosswalks leading to the current crossings – during rush hours?

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    eric April 25, 2008 at 9:08 am

    bahueh! thank you for spreading a little logic on this forum. this issue has gotten ridiculous with the cycling community exerting their pull on the politicians during a time when they are pandering for votes. can we spend significantly less on a crossing? most likely. does it need to happen NOW? no. as an avid cyclist, full time bike commuter and cycling industry employee i am disgusted by the self righteousness and sense of entitlement that i hear supporting the use of public money for this project. if this were a toll bridge, how many uses at what fee would it take to break even? is this really serving portland as a whole?

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    DJ Hurricane April 25, 2008 at 9:20 am

    And eric, I am equally disgusted by your lack of understanding of the value of the opportunity here for public safety in Portland. As an \”avid cyclist, full time bike commuter and cycling industry employee\” you do a disservice to us all. By your logic, no bridge ever serves Portland as a whole.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 25, 2008 at 9:29 am

    \”I hardly see any majority of the nearly 20-30,000 cycling commuters standing up for this\”

    Why should \”cycling commuters\” have to \”stand up\” for this? That B.S.

    To me, this project is about balance and equity.

    Our current system of roads and transportation choices is extremely unbalanced. Riding a bike is not nearly as safe, comfortable, or efficient as driving a car. That\’s due in so small part because we spend only 0.7% of our capital infrastructure budget on bike stuff (not to mention the fact that our culture revolves around cars and speed).

    Here we have an opportunity to help tip the scales just a little toward human-powered transportation and some people are making this into a political fight and creating arguments that to me are baffling.

    Folks, this project has been analyzed and has been capped at $5.5 million using funds that are specifically designated toward completing it.

    The alternative (a bridge half as wide that has no guarantee of ever being built!) has a very low-confidence estimate of $3.8 million — and that is NOT adjusted for inflationary increases in the cost of asphalt, steel, etc.. (materials which are skyrocketing in price).

    This is about treating bicycles, feet, and human-power as an equal choice for Portlanders, not a travel mode that is marginalized and destined to squeeze by on narrow shoulders and sidewalks, or to only be ridden by the most fearless and seasoned riders among us.

    As a son and a father, I feel it\’s unacceptable that Portland only offers one dangerous crossing each way in this area. As someone who rides around the city every day I feel it\’s unacceptable to expect me to go several blocks out of my way (to Johnson for instance) just to get over the freeway when motorized vehicles (that are making people obese, are killing our planet, and are funding bullshit wars) have easier and more efficient access.

    The time has come when Portland (and hopefully other cities) has to stand up against the pervasiveness of car culture that has gotten us to such a dire point. The time has come when \”the bike community\” shouldn\’t have to rise up and protest and be in 100% agreement before our elected officials can help create community consensus around smart, equitable, and sustainable transportation projects — instead of promoting falsehoods and myopic statements that serve only political purposes and do nothing but divide our city.

    We have picked the low-hanging fruit in Portland. The future will be paved with other projects like this one and we must start to make the mental transition to recognizing and respecting the value of non-motorized transportation in our city — and we (as a city, as people who ride, as people who drive) must find ways to promote and provide for other travel options besides motor vehicle.

    If not here, where? If not now, when?

    –Jonathan Maus, a \”strong and fearless\” daily bike rider, owner of a Honda minivan, and father of two

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    David Dean April 25, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Exiting 405 southbound traffic turns on Flanders to enter the NW neighborhoods. So it gets a fair amount of westbound traffic. Autos have to cross two travel lanes in less than a block to do that maneuver so it would be a horrible place to put in a crosswalk across NW 16th without first changing the typical traffic flow.

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    jonno April 25, 2008 at 9:43 am

    @15 –

    Technically, 405 southbound traffic is supposed to go up to Everett, turn left, go to 15th, turn left again, then make another left on Glisan. Nobody does that.

    I drive this offramp frequently, and agree that the Flanders dash has to stop. I\’ve spoken to some of the folks involved with this project, and they\’re aware that the 405 southbound exit traffic needs to be dealt with in another way.

    It\’d be great if the light cycles could change to allow off-ramp traffic to turn right directly onto Glisan while holding 16th southbound traffic.

    Or, how about we close the Glisan/Everett offramp altogether and funnel it all to Burnside. But I dream…

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    Matt Picio April 25, 2008 at 9:49 am

    bahueh (#10) – The Springwater project was budgeted and paid for in the early 2000\’s. It would cost a helluva lot more today. Oil prices have increased fivefold since 2002. Concrete prices have doubled, steel prices have tripled in the last 3 years. If you\’re going to make comparisons, let\’s compare apples to apples, at least as much as possible.

    By and large, the local community *does* support the project. The business alliance supports it, and a number of local businesses are already writing checks to contribute to the private fundraising portion of the bridge.

    eric (#12) \”can we spend significantly less…?\” Probably not, for the reason I gave above. Material costs are a lot more than they were 5 years ago, and alternatives to the Sauvie bridge will be built at the costs extant when the contracts are signed, and material-driven cost overruns may ensue and drive the price still higher.

    And really, \”self righteousness and sense of entitlement\”? Improving safety, especially for children, the elderly, and the disabled is hardly \”self-righteous\”, and since city, state and federal transportation spending still lags far behind the actual pedestrian mode share, not to mention bicycle mode share, I think that the entitlement is warranted, and not just a \”sense\”. Reverse the situation – would it be fair to motorists to spend 75% of our budget on cycling projects when they represent a larger mode share than the remaining 25%?

    Pedestrians deserve better, and they shouldn\’t have to dodge motorists coming off the freeway like a bat out of hell. Elderly deserve better. People in wheelchairs or with walkers deserve better.

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    E April 25, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Thank you Jonathan and Matt for your clear, concise, well-worded, and intelligent arguments. Thank you for your commitment to human-powered transport. And thank you for saying it here, where anyone can read it, so that anyone may pass it on.

    I am a slow thinker, so no matter how good an idea is, I can never express it effectively to someone who disagrees with me. Your words make it possible for me to stand up for myself and my community on issues that are important to me.

    You rock!

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    bahueh April 25, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Jonathan..come off your pedastal for a bit..
    riding a bicycle in/around PDX will NEVER be as \”comfortable\” as driving a car…EVER. comparing the two is ridiculous.

    just because someone, who also is a daily bike commuter and race, disagrees with your utopic view of the world doesn\’t mean what you see or how you see it is a good idea. with all due respect, there are cheaper alternatives and I have seen NONE OF THEM offered up…which makes this appear as a no-bid contract to Kuney and a special interest project…

    a bridge is a fine idea…trust me, I agree with you there, but a smaller bridge with lesser material would be cheaper..sorry. sell the steel from Sauvie\’s to offset the cost..makes it even cheaper…

    the logistical challenge of moving, refurbishing, and installing that chunk of steel on Sauvie\’s Island will cost more than you\’re being told…trucking costs (fuel?), man hours, foundation work, cranes…

    why should cyclists stand up for this? they are the majority of the people rallying around it…seriously, man, I don\’t see a lot of city pedestrians rallying behind your many people show up to these open city meetings?

    and \” As someone who rides around the city every day I feel it\’s unacceptable to expect me to go several blocks out of my way (to Johnson for instance) just to get over the freeway when motorized vehicles (that are making people obese, are killing our planet, and are funding bullshit wars) have easier and more efficient access.\”

    poor you…you have to ride an additional couple blocks? should be get Jonathan his own traffic lane and bridges that no one else can ride on? with all due respect, this comes across as whiney..

    you\’re also combining falsehoods and mixed political situations…we get most of our oil from Canada and Alaska here..refineries are up in Tacoma..
    we\’re not at war with Canada last I checked..

    Matt…people in wheelchairs? where is their support behind this project? has anyone bothered to ask them if they actually want the bridge, or is this just assumption on your part?

    show me cheaper alternatives are NOT available and that all of these subgroups of road users but their support behind this expense, and I\’ll support it also..

    arguing costs in contrast to the three bridge project 7-8 years ago…4.7M for THREE bridges. 1.6M each on average.
    you can\’t tell me prices have gone up that much..

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    bahueh April 25, 2008 at 10:19 am


    yes, crude oil prices have increased 5x…however gasoline prices have only increase 2.5X since 2002….

    spreading falsehoods online will not gain your support…

    offset steel prices by selling the old span…build a 12-15ft. wide prefab bridge (just like the springwater) and you have instantly cheaper alternatives..

    is this actually lost on some of you?

    other people can gain from the leftovers…like Potter\’s precious sidewalks..

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    DJ Hurricane April 25, 2008 at 10:27 am

    \”offset steel prices by selling the old span\”

    What? You don\’t even know who owns the span?! Yeah, you\’re well-informed on this.

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    joeb April 25, 2008 at 10:32 am

    What was the scrap value of the Sauvie span? $32,000?

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    Elly Blue April 25, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Bravo Jonathan! Thanks for reminding me why I feel like this project is such a big deal. This bridge is emblematic of the big picture — whether it\’s built or not should not be a stand-alone issue.

    Think of it in perspective: The *lowest* estimate for current bike modeshare in Portland is 5%. Transportation spending allocated to bike infrastructure remains under 2%. Even that pittance has had the effect of causing bike ridership to skyrocket to as much as 28% in the areas where the spending has been focused (inner SE Portland). This is by far the highest return on investment for any mode. Investing in bike infrastructure isn\’t just a social equity issue, it\’s a damn good fiscal practice. And bike infrastructure has the added benefit of keeping streets safer for pedestrians who reap the benefits of low-traffic streets, better-signalized intersections, and shared off-road pathways, like this bridge, which will also benefit pedestrians because there will actually be enough space to safely share with bikes without dangerous multimode congestion like on the Hawthorne Bridge.

    Also, for perspective: 4.2 billion is the low estimate for replacing the Columbia River Crossing. That much for a 5 mile stretch of roadway. The same folks opposing the Sauvie aren\’t uttering a peep about this, and many support it. This isn\’t about money, it\’s about prioritizing cars.

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    steve April 25, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Elly, your logic is bizarre to the extreme. And I am FOR the bridge.

    You ramble on about mode share and infrastructure investment as if it were relevant. I have yet to hear anyone here complaining about investing in bike infrastructure. Strawman much, do ya? People are complaining about the cost/benefit of one particular project. You sound as if you are debating yourself, and poorly at that.

    Next you compare the CRC to the Sauvie? Are you delusional? No really, are you?


    You and Jonathan should get a room already, there are kids watching.

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    coral April 25, 2008 at 11:08 am

    While I think it would be a good idea to put the bridge in, I definitely see Potter\’s point about money needing to go elsewhere. Shoot, the street I live on isn\’t even paved, and the city said it just can\’t afford to do it. I don\’t live that far out either, a couple blocks from SE Hawthorne and 50th.

    I think the city should worry about maintaining the roads all over the city before they start building up the Pearl even more.

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    jonno April 25, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Coral @24 –

    Problem is, the bridge money can\’t really go elsewhere. At least not in any meaningful time frame.

    I lived for three years on a NE Portland street that had big potholes and no sidewalks. Yes, that needed to be fixed. But no, stopping this bridge won\’t fix them.

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    Refunk April 25, 2008 at 11:16 am

    On USGS topo, things that are obviously not natural features, like buildings and other human-built structures, are called \”cultural elements.\”

    In addition to all the arguments about equity for non-motorist access and safety, in favor of using the Sauvie span over a narrower prefab of indeterminate cost (kudos–Jonathan, Matt, Joel & Ashley), I submit that the Sauvie bridge has worthwhile value as a cultural element in Portland\’s greater identity (not just opposing NW/Pearl to Cully). The difference between it and a smaller solution is not only capacity, but character. The arguments favoring its sustainability in comparison to a Springwater-like prefab are not dismissed easily by the cost factor since the uncontracted prefab\’s cost is not known, whereas the pro-Sauvie council members seem to have worked out a deal on the re-use package.

    Art is not cheap. Architecture is art. A city\’s spending on art is a sign of its cultural maturity. Esthetically, the Sauvie bridge is a far more complex subject and has more potential for service and integration into the lives of Portlanders than its possibly cheaper (but financially unknown) alternative.

    At the level of funding under discussion, artistically (culturally), installation of the Sauvie Island bridge is a bargain. Art defines culture. Culture is a characteristic of a city in a kinda homeostatic relationship with its inhabitants. The sidewalks will come to Cully in the future; the Sauvie Island bridge will either be gone soon or utilitized in that same future for the benefit of Portland\’s culture–and Cully will have sidewalks.

    Remember, too, beside Stumptown, Portland is also known as Bridgetown.

    -bicyclist, licensed driver, artist

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    cyclist April 25, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Although I\’m not gung-ho about this bridge, it\’s important to note that money spent on cycling infrastructure benefits car drivers as well, in that it both keeps bicycles off of busy thoroughfares (which slows down traffic) and removes vehicular traffic from the street as well. If we can develop a comprehensive bike boulevard system we can increase the percentage of people commuting by bike while simultaneously freeing up our roads for those who drive.

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    casey April 25, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I actually hear what Potter\’s saying on this one. Crossing I-405 as it is now might be a hassle for some less-experienced riders, but there are so many areas in town (especially on the East side) where streets are a joke. It\’s frustrating to keep seeing improvements being made in places like the Pearl, while my NE neighborhood is completely neglected. As an experienced rider, crossing I-405 now seems pretty comfortable, while commuting into work from Montevilla is downright frightening at times. I\’m wondering how many more people would be commuting from these East side neighborhoods if there were better roads.

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    Spanky April 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Good on you for the comments Jonathon. I don\’t see things as you do on all your points, but do on most.

    The commentary about more projects like this in the offing for Portland in the future makes me nervous unless the city can find a way to keep all spending under control. The city has a huge amount of debt and I have no confidence that city leaders presently in office and to be in office in the future have the discipline to make the hard choices that must be made in that department. In short, putting bike projects from time to time ahead of car projects and otherwise, ordering priorities in a way that might break the status quo.

    Doing so will likely be perceived (if and to the extent cars are perceived as \”disfavored\” or bike traffic as \”favored\”)as being wasteful of tax dollors and otherwise unwise. And therefore, politically risky.

    Portland is already a fairly tax unfriendly place to live and do business.

    Unless the city can keep taxes and fees under control while making a transition toward reordering spending priorities and at the same time managing public perception, folks will be upset, political heads will roll, and the result may be contribution toward a recommencement of the 1960s and 70s abandonment of the central city to avoid taxes, fees, mismanaged schools and snarled traffic.

    Hopefully high gas prices and a pleasant life experience in the inner part of Portland will prevent that, but there are already people and businesses leaving Portland and Multnomah county for these and other cost related reasons.

    These are not the best of times for the city to be talking about new projects that are not perceived as focused on the \”core business\” of the city.

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    bahueh April 25, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    DJ…well informed enough to know Kuney currently retains ownership rights over the old span..thank you for the assumption however.

    that fact however does nothing to negate my original thought…sorry.

    cost savings can be passed down from Kuney, no? or is that again just too easy and against your support for the project, so you just want to argue and make assumptions about my knowledge of the project.

    PDX does not need a 30 feet wide 6 Million dollar pedestrian bridge…when every other bridge in the city is what? 12-15 feet, for a portion of the cost?

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    DJ Hurricane April 25, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Please explain to us then, bahueh, how and why a private corporation is going to \”pass down cost savings\” to the City. I can\’t wait to hear this.

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    Me April 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    BLOG BRAWL!!!! everybody come look… lets see who throws the next punch.

    P.S. Jonathan I appreciate you commenting on the blog as a real person instead of just as \”The editor\”

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    Jeremy E April 25, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I\’m curious at what \”portion of the cost\” you think a new bridge can be built? Current cost estimates put it at about 2/3 the cost of the Sauvie move. Hmmm, I\’m no econ major but 2/3 the cost for 1/3 to 1/2 the bridge doesn\’t seem like that spectacular of a deal. It would also seem that a tiny pedestrian bridge would not accommodate future needs. I try to remember infrastructure is an investment in the future, not the present.

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    John Reinhold April 25, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    First of all, it is not a $5.5 million dollar project to reuse the Sauvie Island span. There is going to be a bike/ped bridge built across 405 at Flanders – it is already planned and budgeted for. The current low confidence estimate at the cost of building a new bridge, in today\’s dollars, is ~ $3.8 million.

    That puts the actual cost of reusing the Sauvie Island span at $1.7 million IF and ONLY IF the new bridge were to be built for $3.8 million. (Not counting inflation or timelines).

    Second, Please would one of you people siding with Potter\’s notion that money could be spent on sidewalks in East Portland, please do tell us how much of that money could be spent in East Portland, and by what mechanism? Please, since you all seem to be buying into that logic – tell us how?

    I work with Transportation funding, and it is not that simple. Period. You cannot just take money and move it around like that. It plain and simple does not work that way. It is not like a household where if you don\’t buy a PS3 you have extra money for shoes for the kids. The money at question here is not coming out of one single pot, much of it is not legally transferrable. And even if you could move some of the $1.7 million – that does not pave a lot of streets or even buy a lot of sidewalks.

    At current costs, a simple corner curb with two curb cuts (ADA spec) designed with pedestrians in mind (possible curb extensions or planter strip modifications) costs $10k to $20k dollars (todays dollars). Of course that varies based on lots of different factors, but just a basic ballpark figure is $10k to $20k. A single intersection can reach $100k depending on the drainage and rework required, and that is JUST FOR THE CURBS AT THE CORNERS. That does not include any paving of the street, signage/signaling.

    And finally, how about a cost per user comparison? How many people live on or use those unpaved streets and sidewalks? How many people would use the Flanders 405 bike/ped overpass? I would bet that the $1.7 million for the Sauvie span reuse plan will provide many more users per dollar – considering the density and land use patterns of the neighborhoods with which it is located.

    Mayor Potter spent over a million dollars on his \”visioning\” program. I bet that would have built a couple sidewalks in East Portland too. Where was the outrage?

    At this bridge reuse is something that actual real physical people, and even *gasp* children, can use. And much much sooner than waiting to build a new bridge.

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    Karl Rohde April 25, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I can’t believe the Mayor continues to use this totally disingenuous argument. I would expect this kind of thing from Rush Limbaugh, but not the Mayor of Portland. Has he no shame?

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    n8m April 25, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Speaking of intersections, I always wonder why some of the new intersections in my neighborhood, namely SE Hawthorne and 50th (as well as 20th) have no bicycle concessions built into them whatsoever. I\’m disappointed.

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    William April 25, 2008 at 7:26 pm


    Refunk, I strongly agree with you. The art factor should not be ignored. Most of these pedestrian bridges (even some of the acclaimed ones), are soulless. Yes, a new pedestrian Flanders crossing might be safer. Great, but the Sauvie bridge would actually be pleasant, and would encourage use.

    I live uphill from 405. I use the Everett/Glisan couplet about a dozen times per week. I would use the Sauvie bridge pretty much daily. When walking down the hill to the gym, or to a friend\’s, and when biking up the hill. Safer, more pleasant.

    Aesthetics matter, and to those who would deny the point, great. Just ditch your entire music collection, clear your home of everything hanging on the walls, and start wearing functional but blah clothing. What\’s that? You\’re miserable now, and when you smile at strangers, they less often return the gesture? Don\’t despair. Just remember that all your life needed was functionality, and not art.

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    Thom April 25, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Pearl District Obama liberals vs. deep SE union Clinton liberals.

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    Dan Kaufman April 25, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Bahueh@19 or whoever you are, \”with all due respect\” I don\’t \”trust you\”. I really don\’t think you believe \”a bridge is a fine idea\”.

    Your arguments are cynical, anecdotal, and hollow.

    eg. \”we get most of our oil from Canada and Alaska here..refineries are up in Tacoma..
    we\’re not at war with Canada last I checked\”.

    Your argument is meaningless. Crude oil is a globally driven commodity.

    eg. \”the logistical challenge of moving, refurbishing, and installing that chunk of steel on Sauvie\’s Island will cost more than you\’re being told…trucking costs (fuel?), man hours, foundation work, cranes…\”

    Are you claiming the cost estimates are wrong? That is significant accusation. Please give more details because any bridge construction will require \”trucking (fuel) costs, man hours, foundation work, and cranes\”. Unless you are talking about a rope bridge.

    And, in the end, a rope bridge is even more than we\’ll ever get from you and your proposition. Isn\’t it?

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    Michael April 26, 2008 at 6:37 am

    A crossing appears needed, but that is one ugly bridge with a gagging high price tag.

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    East Portlander April 26, 2008 at 6:40 am

    Potter can\’t even properly manage the Planning Bureau, so why is he now so involved in PDOT issues? He should leave PDOT to Sam because he clearly doesn\’t understand transportation policy and financing. Sidewalks are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. The City has the legal authority to require adjacent property owners to pay for sidewalks adjacent to their property. I\’m not saying this is right, but it\’s how the transportation system currently works in this and most cities in the country.

    That said, a large portion of the money to fund this project is from the River District\’s Urban Renewal Fund. This is money than CANNOT be spent outside of the urban renewal area. Potter\’s claim that this money could be spent better elsewhere is absolutely false.

    This is nothing more than a personal discord between Potter and Adams.

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    jack April 26, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    I am constantly amazed that people think that urban renewal funds just grow on trees. If not used for this project, can\’t be used for anything else.

    OF COURSE THEY CAN! First, if any project shows why the Pearl URA needs to be ended, this is it. If this project merits support, it should have to be weighed against all the other needs.

    instead, it gets priority treatment (and a backroom sweetheart deal, 3.9 mil guaranteed to the first company, who knows what Adams promised Salzman).

    This is bullshit, the way decisions get made around here.

    if a bicycle bridge or Sauvie reuse deserves to be done, it should be done via normal procedure and paid for with normal tax dollars.

    These monuments to the Council\’s arrogance just make me sick.

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    rixtir April 27, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Lots of mouth-breathers opposing the bridge over at the Portland Tribune:

    If anybody would like to add anything useful to the discussion, please join in; it\’s kind of lonely countering the Lars Larson contingent there.

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    wsbob April 27, 2008 at 11:32 am

    \”instead, it gets priority treatment (and a backroom sweetheart deal, 3.9 mil guaranteed to the first company, who knows what Adams promised Salzman).\” jack

    Are you serious? A backroom deal? This project has been in the news big time for at least a month now. It\’s been in planning a lot longer than that. I\’m willing to bet that if a contractor stepped up and said \’Kuney will do that job for $3.9 million? We\’ll do it for $2.9 million\’, that contractor would definitely have been considered for the job.

    \”instead it gets priority treatment…\” jack.

    At least read the news or get some kind of reliable information before speaking. This project is getting priority treatment solely because of the time frame related to the need for the now replaced original Sauvie Island bridge to be removed and the question of using its 200\’center span for a pedestrian/bike crossing over I-405 at Flanders to be determined before its owner, contractor Max Kuney is obliged to scrap it.

    If there\’s anything that might be wrong with this deal at the moment, it\’s that indication has yet to be shown that a bid for phase two of the project (site prep, foundations, traffic signals)will be guaranteed to stay within the remaining $1.5 million left over from the original $5.5 milion budget projection for the project.

    By the way, what is \”…normal procedure and paid for with normal tax dollars.\” Maybe everyone else knows, but I sure don\’t know what you\’re talking about here. Urban development is a complicated process, not necessarily so much like going down and buying a set of tires for the car. Jack, if you can think of a serious but simpler, more representative way of paying for projects, I\’m sure everyone would be willing to listen to what you had to say.

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    Matt Picio April 27, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    bahueh (#19) – I don\’t know if anyone\’s bothered to ask the disabled community if they want the bridge. Whether they\’ve been asked or not doesn\’t change the fact that a dedicated, signalized crossing would be safer than what currently exists.

    I can\’t show you cheaper alternatives are *not* available because I don\’t have the staff or the time to research and refute it. Can you show me that cheaper alternatives are available, at the same width and installed by the end of next year? (The Sauvie span could in theory be up by the end of this year)

    bahueh (#20) – I haven\’t spread falsehoods – I commented on oil, not gas. Since we\’re picking nits, gasoline bears little relevance to the project, since most of the work involves diesel engines running distillate fuel. Diesel is up about 3x its 2002 cost. Try debating my actual points rather than trying to reframe the argument.

    Yes, a 12-15\’ span would be much cheaper – it would also be inadequate as soon as it was built.

    Why should we settle for leftovers? We represent 3-7% of the population, yet get 1% of the funding. We\’re due – so are the pedestrians. Let\’s have the bridge AND sidewalks. Let\’s start rabble-rousing for sidewalks in Cully, bike and ped improvements east of 82nd Avenue, and better roads near Clinton behind Fubonn.

    casey (#29) – where in Montavilla? I\’m just curious – I used to live near 82nd & Glisan and never had any problems commuting through Montavilla. Are you east of 82nd and south of Burnside? I know some areas over there are a bit dicey.

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    rixtir April 28, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    The anti-bike rhetoric is heating up:

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    Tom April 28, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I like this idea because it separates bicyclists and pedestrians from cars. The safest and most pleasant way to share the road is to separate bicyclists and cars whenever possible. Besides, the Sauvie Island bridge will look a lot cooler than a boring concrete overpass.

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    Matt Picio April 28, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Oh, man – rixtir on the tribune story comments (he references the URL in post #47) just made one of the greatest replies ever, about 45 minutes ago.

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    wsbob April 28, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    The Oregonian\’s editorial page reader\’s letters today also predominantly faulted the idea of the the Sauvie span at Flanders. One writer\’s rationale: Put the $5 million towards replacing the Sellwood.

    Isn\’t that a county bridge, and a project far from reaching any resolution that would allow either design, bid or construction to begin? Why does the Oregonian print letters by readers so ill informed without adding at least a side with a few notes for clarification?

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    rixtir April 28, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    I\’ve been shocked by uninformed letters to the Oregonian editor ever since I arrived…

    And yes, the Sellwood is a County bridge. The people who are suggesting that Portland fix the Sellwood Bridge instead of putting in a bridge at Flanders simply don\’t know what they\’re talking about, on multiple levels (County bridge, not city bridge, there\’s no comparison in cost between the two, Portland ALREADY HAS committed to paying its share of the Sellwood Bridge replacement, funding for Flanders bridge can\’t be spent on projects outside the Pearl).

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    rixtir April 28, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks Matt! 😀

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    zilfondel April 29, 2008 at 12:51 am

    I believe they were estimating around $400 million for a Sellwood replacement bridge? Or was that $250 million?

    5 million won\’t buy you nothin\’ – that\’s for sure. By the time we get around to the Sellwood bridge, it might buy you a gallon of gas.

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    rixtir April 29, 2008 at 8:00 am

    For me, the bottom line is this:

    Confident, capable cyclists may be able to get across the I-405 using the current infrastructure. While the Flanders crossing will also be of use to themm, where the real benefits come in is for those who would like to cycle, but are afraid to because of the danger posed by cars. The safer we can make cycling, the more those people– people who would like to cycle, but don\’t– will get on a bike for some of their trips.

    That\’s where we need to go next. Everybody who wants to bike and isn\’t afraid of cars is already on a bike. In order to increase the number of cyclists, we have to make the infrastructure safer. This bridge won\’t do that all by itself, but it\’s a piece of the puzzle. as we begin to put the pieces in place, cycling becomes safer, and more people are encouraged to ride– and as more people begin to ride, there are more of us on the road, and THAT is what has been shown to make cycling safer for all of us.

    So even if skilled cyclists feel that they don\’t need this particular bridge, it still yields tangible benefits to all cyclists, skilled and unskilled alike.

    And for me, that is the bottom line. Making cycling safer for the average Joe and Jo makes cycling safer for all of us, which is why I support this bridge and other safety improvements in this town.

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    rixtir April 29, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Apparently without a trace of irony, the Oregonian published a hit piece on the bridge this morning, the day before the hearing, by none other than our Lame Duck Mayor Potter– on the same day that it notes that Portland has received Platinum City status:

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    wsbob April 29, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Where has this champion of fairness, Mayor Potter been since he first proposed the $3 million for Cully\’s sidewalks? Why has he waited until now to plead that the $2 million system development charges portion of the Flander\’s Sauvie crossing budget be applied to finally install Cully\’s sidewalks?

    Why does Mayor Potter seemingly fail to consider that the opportunity to use the Sauvie span at Flanders can not wait until Cully\’s sidewalks and various bike boulevard\’s he mention\’s in his commentary, are built?

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    jonno April 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Tom\’s piece fails to mention that even if we stopped the bridge and any other supposedly \”unfair\” projects, there still wouldn\’t be enough money to fix the 10 most dangerous intersections and the sidewalks and the bike boulevards and and etc. We\’d be playing catchup forever and still getting behind.

    Until he shows us that there is enough funding to actually make a dent in the backlog, he\’s just blowing smoke. After all, he\’s had a whole term in office to do something about it. He could have fought harder for Safe, Sound & Green streets, but I didn\’t see that happening.

    3 1/2 years in office, and this is where he puts his foot down. It\’s feeble almost to the point of embarrassment.

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    Bdan April 29, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    C\’mon folks! I see this thing as a distraction. Would it be great to have a bikeway from NW to the Waterfront? Of course it would. I don\’t think anyone would say no. But just like all ideas and plans there are details that need to be debated.
    First and foremost: Glisan has a bike lane. Bike lanes are nice for most commuters. I think that the price of the project is a bit much(5.5 mil), as stated earlier the three bridges on the Springwater corridor cost around 4.5 million total.
    Personally the cost and the fact that there already is a bike lane on Glisan make me skeptical, but in the long term making Flanders a bike boulevard is very appealing.

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    jonno April 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    @Bdan –

    The bike lane on Glisan starts at 14th (before the 405 bridge) and ends at 18th, just as the hill starts to get steeper. From a user\’s perspective, it puts you directly in the path of vehicles turning right onto 405 northbound (I\’ve been honked at waiting for the light to change at 15th by drivers who feel I\’m obstructing their right-on-red privilege), then dumps you back into traffic right when you need it.

    It might as well not even exist.

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    Nelson Muntz April 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    That\’s a huge amount of money to spend when there are safe places to cross UNDER the 405 just two and three blocks north at Irving and Johnson. Much less traffic and not an inconvenience in my opinion.

    There are better ways to spend that money for bikes in The Pearl and NW if that is where it needs to be spent.

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    Brad April 29, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Irving doesn\’t cross under I-405. I use Johnson or Kearney and they are preferable to Glisan and Everett since you rarely encounter cars on those streets.

    Why not build a bike station in the Pearl District for commuters? Downtown workers could also use the facility and then hop a streetcar. If you saw how many PNCA students, restaurant workers, office folks, etc. have to leave their steeds out in the rain or cluttering the sidewalks and elevated walkways each day you would see that is a far more useful expenditure that a redundant crossing.

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    wsbob April 29, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Redundant crossing? When the Everett and Glisan crossings become primarily pedestrian-bike crossings (how about one lane each for cars?), or even just one of them becomes a pedestrian-bike crossing, then a pedestrian-bike crossing at Flanders might be redundant, but not until something like that happens.

    If the money from the Flanders crossing project were applicable to bike stations, how long do you imagine it might before they could be planned, designed and installed, and what would they cost?

    If you want to campaign for a bike station, how about that vintage Texaco station on…can\’t remember…think it\’s Glisan(now being used as a taco fast food place or some such thing.

    Or, just contact City Repair. If people were serious about bike shelters, City Repair could no doubt come up with a design plan for them that wouldn\’t take $5 million dollars.

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    2GOAT April 30, 2008 at 6:39 am

    I can assure you, preparations are already underway to build a bicycle shelter where the PNCA students currently park their bikes. Last I heard they were encountering some permit issues with the City of Portland.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if these students could also ride their bikes to class without risking life and limb?

    What’s their personal expenditure worth?

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    Brad April 30, 2008 at 8:38 am

    The PNCA students could simply cross under the freeway at NW Johnson and enjoy a straight and safer shot to school. They don\’t need a Flanders bridge. In fact, using such a span to cross the 405 before heading north to school puts them into more traffic and the need to cross a busy Glisan intersection in the last three blocks of their commute. That\’s simply bad trip planning coming from west of I-405.

    I see the safety issues with Glisan and Everett being a lack of bike lanes and sharrows plus torn up pavement. Those facilities and repairs could be done for far less than what is being proposed for the bridge. If the bridge did exist, then a block from either side of the crossing presents the same danger issues – heavy car traffic, crossing higher speed streets from a dead stop, and poor sightlines. So, $5 million dollars essentially gets you two blocks of less stressful riding and gives PDOT another bridge to maintain. That hardly seems like a good deal.

    I think that money could buy more off street bike parking or bike oases. Heck, why not eliminate the on-street parking on the right hand sides of Everett and Glisan and convert those spaces into bike lanes? That would speed bike traffic flow and create a safer ride through the Pearl District.

    I suspect that putting the word \”bike\” in front of bridge has caused many here to fall in love with a marginal idea.

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    Angela April 30, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Let\’s keep to the facts and try to keep it simple.

    This was a non-issue until Potter changed his vote for election season.

    The \”keep to the basics\” argument does not fly.

    We have city departments to keep to the basics with the funding for sidewalks, roads and parks. That\’s what they do. That\’s their job.

    We have elected officials who are supposed to be the visionaries. That is their job.

    That is what has governed Portland. It\’s system that works,

    except when you get a false elected official who doesn\’t keep his word.

    Do we want to be like every other cement-laden city, or do we want to keep our edge?

    Keep with the vision, or move to LA…

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