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“Sauvie Island Bridge Relocation Project” launched at press conference

Posted by on April 25th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

New logo unveiled today

Commissioner Sam Adams held a press conference today to officially launch Flanders Crossing: Sauvie Island Bridge Relocation Project.

The event was an attempt to clarify the proposal for the project that will be voted on by City Council next week, to outline why the the project is necessary, and to demonstrate that it has the support of neighborhood residents, business owners, bicycle advocates, and a majority of City Commissioners.

Joining Adams at the event in support of the project were several speakers including Commissioner Randy Leonard, Susie Kubota (Tracey Sparling’s aunt), Scott Bricker (head of the BTA), Roger Geller (PDOT bicycle coordinator), Reuel Fish (Northwest Portland business owner), and Paul Notti (a Southeast Portland resident).

Sauvie-Flanders Crossing press conference-2.jpg

(Photos © J. Maus)

Adams began the event by laying out statistics that back up his position that the area around NW Flanders Street is in dire need of safety improvements.

PDOT staff passed out a 14 page document with 26 slides that outlines the reasons for completing the project now. The document lays out the case for re-using the Sauvie Bridge span and it includes slides on safety, the funding picture, achieving our environmental goals, creating adequate bike facilities, and more.

You can download the entire document here (925k PDF).

A slide from a packet that was handed out at the event today. Download it here (925K PDF)

Adams stressed that his track record as Transportation Commissioner has always put safety as the highest priority and he explained that a new crossing at Flanders has been approved by City Council three times since 2002.

Sauvie-Flanders Crossing press conference-5.jpg Sauvie-Flanders Crossing press conference-7.jpg Sauvie-Flanders Crossing press conference-6.jpg

In an effort to respond to critics of the plan, Adams said, “I want to make this absolutely crystal clear — 90% of the funding for this project can’t be used for basic maintenance.” He also stressed that (referring to the contract language), “If it [the bridge span] sinks into the river or falls over onto the freeway, the responsibility is on the contractor.”

Sauvie-Flanders Crossing press conference-4.jpg

City Commissioner Randy Leonard

Commissioner Randy Leonard didn’t mince his feelings about Mayor Potter’s criticisms of the plan. He told the crowd he was, “extremely disappointed that Potter would divide Portlanders…into the lowest common denominator in order to further the political interests of his friend who is running for mayor.”

“From where I sit,” said Leonard, “his [Mayor Potter’s] actions couldn’t be any more disingenuous.”

Calling Potter’s conduct, “One of the most deeply disappointing experiences of my entire public life,” Leonard said the event should be “a celebration” of what Adams is doing for bicyclists and pedestrians. Leonard said the Flanders crossing is a matter of “equity” — a project that will give Northwest residents the same “unmolested [from cars]” biking opportunities that outer Southeast Portlanders (like himself) enjoy on the recently completed Three Bridges on the Springwater Corridor.

Sauvie-Flanders Crossing press conference-8.jpg

BTA chief Scott Bricker said
the new crossing would make it much
safer for his family (behind him)
to join him for lunch downtown.

Another Southeast Portland resident, Paul Notti, said he supports the project because it’s his dream to ride with his family from their home in Westmoreland to the shops on Northwest 23rd.

Susie Kubota, the aunt of Tracey Sparling (who was killed just blocks from the Flanders site back in October) was joined at the microphone by Sparling’s mom Sophie. Kubota called on Mayor Potter to make the Flanders Crossing the part of his legacy. Referring to it as a possible, “action item in his VisionPDX project,” that would be a “lasting symbol of consensus,” she said the crossing could be the “keystone piece” of the Flanders Bike Boulevard.

Kubota reminded the crowd that Sparling worked at Saint Cupcake, a cafe which is just one block west of I-405 on Flanders Street and that she would have used the crossing if she were alive today.

At the end of the press conference, Adams was asked by an OPB reporter about Potter’s recent statement in opposition to the project. Adams said Potter has voted in favor of funding a crossing at Flanders three times since 2002 and that, “only now in campaign season are we hearing these objections.”

More info:
— Download PDOT’s new Sauvie Island Bridge Relocation Project presentation (14 pages, 925K, PDF)

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36 thoughts on ““Sauvie Island Bridge Relocation Project” launched at press conference”

  1. Avatar KTesh says:

    I am so pleased to hear this!

    It would be so cool if Mayor Potter would get behind it. But if he doesn\’t it\’s further proof that we are better off w/o him or his choice of replacement.

    Go Sam!

  2. Avatar steve says:

    Randy Leonard is freakin awesome.

  3. Avatar Paul Manson says:

    Any hint on how they will structure the paths? Will it be striped or separated travel lanes for cyclists and pedestrians?

  4. Avatar 2GOAT says:

    The PDOT website has a great photo of a bike boulevard and has a list of sites with detailed explanations (one from our BTA)
    Check out:

    Flanders street would be a perfect application of bike boulevards similar to the slow speed shared roads of Amsterdam.

    If your asking how the 30 foot wide Sauvie-reuse span will be divided…I haven\’t seen any of those detailed plans yet.

    On a different note:
    I am dismayed by the video media coverage of Sam\’s statement, but I guess all they try to grab are sound bites.
    KGW\’s presentation with it\’s subsequent poll show the majority viewers against this project.
    How about some of you supporters out there clicking on the KGW news site tonight and voting for the bridge?
    Let\’s wield the power of the cycling opinion and turn their poll around!!!

  5. Avatar Elly Blue says:

    I\’m with you on that, Steve.

    Who\’s up for organizing that New Year\’s party?

  6. Avatar Rixtir says:

    Here\’s the KGW link:

  7. Avatar burning shame says:

    Tried to vote – had to register – attempt to register failed, got some kind of error message…

    Anyone else have this happen?

  8. Avatar burning shame says:

    Doh – It must have gone through – my yes vote is in!

  9. Avatar Adam says:

    I went down to the press conference today with a co worker. I was glad I made the trip from far out in SE. It was good to hear some facts I didn\’t know and to experience the area that this project would impact. It honestly wouldn\’t benefit me all to much seeing that I very rarely get out this way. From going down there this afternoon and experiencing the current routes across I405, this bridge is greatly needed. I can definitely see how a not so confident cyclist would want to avoid this area. I was also glad to be able to use a nearby bike box, was quite disappointed however to find a car in the box. Grrr!

  10. Avatar DJ Hurricane says:

    Portland values.

  11. Avatar wsbob says:

    It sounds as if the required vote will be met. Once done, the sooner contractors for phase 2 submit their bids for the site prep, foundations and traffic signal part of the job, the better it will be. Everyone really needs to know what that part of the job will cost.

    I really think that cost should have been known before signing on to this deal, in case it\’s not possible to have phase 2 stay within $1.5 million. But then, maybe staying within $1.5 million has been somehow guaranteed as well. That would be helpful.

    And in staying within the budget, I hope they don\’t go too cheap on the foundations. Some Columbia River Basalt would look good instead of the concrete retaining wall of I-405 that\’s there now.

  12. Avatar arid says:

    It\’s cool, but not much use to me. I just don\’t understand what\’s so hard about going under 405 on Johnson if you\’re that worried.

  13. Avatar Jeff says:

    I don\’t think anyone would be complaining if we were talking about a bridge for cars and freight. We just spent way over $5M for a new freight bridge over Lombard at 33rd.

    Didn\’t see anyone playing politics with that.

    When are we going to stop apologizing for money being spent on bikes, as if we don\’t spend hundreds of millions on cars every year?

  14. Avatar 2GOAT says:

    Thank you Jeff for putting some perspectvfe on this!!!!

  15. Avatar 2GOAT says:

    OOps, \”perspective\”

  16. Avatar rixtir says:

    For everybody who suggests saving money by diverting cyclists and pedestrians to the NW Johnson undercrossing, I have an alternate suggestion that will save most of the cost of this proposed bridge:

    Close the Everett and Glisan bridges to auto traffic, widen the sidewalks, install stoplights and red light cameras to control auto traffic at either end of the bridges, and divert cars to Burnside and Johnson.

  17. Avatar wsbob says:

    Rixter, too bad that more of the people opposing use of Flanders at I-405 for a pedestrian-bike crossing haven\’t considered an option like you suggested, or something similar.

    Another alternative might be to revert Everett and Glisan streets back to two-way streets. Eliminate I-405 exits to Everett. Designate the Everett St crossing exclusively to pedestrians and bikes.

    Faced with an option like that, no doubt many of those opposing use of the Sauvie span at Flanders would suddenly start to think that maybe it\’s a good idea after all.

  18. Avatar rixtir says:


    A bicycle/pedestrian bridge at Everett only seems like a bad idea if we accept the premise of the auto-centric I-405 bridges status quo. Once we start talking about removing auto access to some of that infrastructure, a bicycle/pedestrian crossing at Flanders starts to sound a lot more reasonable to people who assume that auto-centric infrastructure is the natural state of the universe.

  19. Avatar 2GOAT says:

    If you believe in the Sauvie-reuse plan or if you believe in the power of cyclists and pedestrians, come on board! I want to see if we can shift the tide.
    Check out
    Open Blog/interactive and find the daily poll.
    When I first voted for the Bridge it was behind at 36%.
    I just checked at we\’re at 44%.
    You can only vote once.

  20. Avatar Jim Labbe says:

    Can someone post a link or mailing address and/or details to how folks can donate to the project. This information has not been well advertised.

  21. Avatar gracie says:

    Re #20. That is such a good idea. Maybe Sam Adams and Homer Williams can be the first to step up to the plate since they\’ll be the ones benefitting the most from this idea. Keep in mind that $5.5 mil in Portland dollars is really $10+ mil.

  22. Avatar wsbob says:

    Hey gracie, your \’positive\’ attitude is overwhelming! Maybe if you go to the people directly involved in writing policy applying certain funds exclusively to site specific projects such as Flanders Crossing, and whisper in their ears, \’pretty please!….\’, they\’ll re-apply the funds, just because you asked, to building those sidewalks in Cully that Mayor Potter is so concerned about.

    Of course, if you\’re successful, then Adams and Williams, as you describe them here: the major beneficiaries of the Flanders Crossing project… will no longer be beneficiaries of that project, but neither either would the hundreds, maybe thousands of pedestrians and people on bikes, probably wheelchairs too, everyday, that will benefit considerably if the Sauvie Island span lands at Flanders over I-405.

  23. Avatar Charlie says:

    Yesterday I rode over the Sauvie Island bridge with a new appreciation. I already can see how it would fit nicely. It has modest sidewalks in conjunction with the road section. It\’s going to be very cool to have such a symbol and nice way to get across with the kids. A bike-only link is pretty amazing.

  24. Avatar gracie says:

    Re Post 22: OK, wsbob, it seems that any post here that isn\’t all gushy and 100% positive about this deal gets a flame. Got it. You certainly put me in my place – so nice to see groupthink is alive and well 🙂 I normally would like the idea of the bridge, and if the economy wasn\’t in to toilet, I would support it. I would rather see some sidewalk and crosswalk improvements in NW. A lot of elders in NW have gotten clipped by SUVs. Let\’s see some money go to making the streets safe for pedestrians – or is that not trendy enough for ya?

  25. Avatar Adam says:

    Gracie, your idea of improvements to sidewalks and cross walks is a good idea except for one thing. A chunk of the funding for the Sauvie Plan cannot be used for maintenance. Just for new structures. That\’s why Potter\’s argument against this bridge doesn\’t have anything to stand on.

  26. Avatar wsbob says:

    Gracie, no need to gush or be 100% positive about any project you don\’t like. Simple, objective and sincere remarks relating your personal feelings will do just fine. But perhaps try and be a little more informed about the funding for The Sauvie Island span at Flanders crossing project before assuming and making snide statements suggesting to others even less informed than yourself, that money assigned to this project is being drawn away from funds that could be assigned to the construction of sidewalks in NW or elsewhere.

    Here is Portland Tribune writer Jim Redden\’s reporting on where the Flanders crossing money is coming from (editor Maus and others commenting here have reported this information numerous times as well, on this weblog):

    \”Now he (Adams) is asking the council to fund the $5.5 million project from a variety of sources: $2 million in redevelopment funds from the River District Urban Renewal Area that includes the Pearl District; $2 million from Transportation System Development Charges collected throughout the city; $1 million from a federal transportation program intended to preserve and enhance historical, cultural and environmental assets; and $500,000 from city general-fund dollars he hopes the council will approve as part of a larger transportation safety and environmental improvement program in next year’s budget.\” Jim Redden/Portland Tribune.

    Here\’s another statement of his from the same article: \”Although the transportation development and federal funds can be spent in other parts of the city, the urban renewal funds can only be spent in the River District.\” Jim Redden

    Read the entire article yourself if you like: Bridge Trouble the Waters by Jim Redden, Portland Tribune

    People have been saying and reporting that money for this project can\’t be applied to the construction of sidewalks in NW or elsewhere. If you have information proving that it can, please share it with us.

  27. Avatar peejay says:

    I think it would be good to publicise all the transportation projects that cost at least $5 million in the past few years, and which Portlanders they serve. Or how about comparing Flanders Crossing\’s cost to that of the CRC? We could build this bridge for what they\’ll spend on office supplies for that one.

  28. Avatar Jon says:

    I can think of 10 bike projects that would be much better than this bridge. I have never had any issue crossing 405 by bicycle and I do it regularly. On the other hand, it would be great to spend money fixing the north-south bike routes on the eastside. Besides the water front to Sellwood, the other north-south routes are a mess and dangerous. The area around the Rose quarter is also a mess and dangerous for bicycles. The area where Barbur goes into downtown is bad. The area where Terwilliger meets downtown is also very bad. Lets spend money on things that will make more riders safe instead of some look good project that does next to nothing make cycling safer.

  29. Avatar G.A.R. says:

    Jon #28 is right that there are other high priority projects. I am especially interested in seeing the Barbur-to-downtown piece improved. But there is nothing low-priority about Flanders. Flanders, when it is complete, will be an essential link from Beaverton to the Waterfront loop. There is currently no safe way for a teenager to get from Beaverton through downtown. Crossing 405 is easy for me, but it is hard for a less confident cyclist. Flanders, when completed with a signalized crossing of Naito, connects Sterns Drive to the Steel Bridge. This completes a non-motorized/low-traffic route from Beaverton\’s bike network at Cedar Hills through Washington Park to Portland\’s bike network. Putting a groovy bridge in the middle is icing on the cake, it\’s true. But it is an essential cake.

  30. Avatar Matt Picio says:

    Jon (#28) – it\’s not an issue for you, but you\’re not the only cyclist on the road.

    As a counter-example, I don\’t have trouble with the north-south routes on the east side at all – Milwaukie, 17th, 41st, 52nd… no problem for me, been riding them for years without incident. But I don\’t care for Everett / Glisan in NW at all.

    I totally agree with you on Barbur, though – most of SW and especially north Barbur is just awful.

  31. Avatar 2GOAT says:

    Gracie #21, I know this is off topic, but by the tone of your statement I wonder if this means you are for this guy:
    check out
    If you listen to his comments he says he refuses to pay because city construction is restricting the parking for his customers…last time I drove into Portland, the Smart Park lot that is directly above the restaurant in question is still open. Seems like a smarter business move it to validate people\’s off street parking.

  32. Avatar 2GOAT says:

    Gracie #21, I know this is off topic, but by the tone of your statement I wonder if this means you are for this guy:
    check out
    If you listen to his comments he says he refuses to pay because city construction is restricting the parking for his customers…last time I drove into Portland, the Smart Park lot that is directly above the restaurant in question is still open. I don\’t know if Bush Garden validates already, but if it doesn\’t it sure seems like a smarter business move it to validate people\’s off street parking than to refuse to pay your reduced city rent.
    Yeah, Portland will do real well with him for Mayor…Ha

  33. Avatar 2GOAT says:

    oops, sorry for the double submission…that\’s what I get for trying to verify my comment.

  34. Avatar King says:

    Cyclist heresy, I know. But I think the Sauvie/Flanders Bridge is a total waste of money. I cross 405 daily… often via Everett/Glisan. And there are plenty of other ways to cross that are not so busy. What is the problem??

    I could maybe get on board if the bridge was an attractive, architectural \”Cycling Gateway to Portland\”. Instead it\’s a rusting hulk… an awful icon for the community to associate with cyclists.

    Ugly. Not needed. Money better spent elsewhere on cycling infrastructure. Recycling? Melt it down and build something new.

  35. Avatar Sasha says:

    I have to agree with King on this one. This project has good intentions, but is a waste of money and time. And I strongly agree with the aesthetic comments about the bridge, it really is ugly and doesn\’t deserve to be saved.

    I\’ve been riding and walking across the 405 for many years, and while it could certainly be improved, it\’s far less dangerous or challenging than the proponents of this plan (and the contributors on this blog) make it out to be.

    The 2 Million in Urban Renewal funds could be spent in much smarter ways.

  36. Avatar Lee says:

    King and Sasha, I agree with your comments. I ride over the Everett bridge all the time and don\’t see any reason to spend millions for another bridge just a block away.

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