“Sauvie Island Bridge Relocation Project” launched at press conference

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).

(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.

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.”

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.

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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