Exclusive: Adams will scrap Sauvie span project

I thought Mayor Adams standing above roads and bike lanes was a nice shot.

“I don’t feel comfortable moving forward at this point.”
–Commissioner Sam Adams

City of Portland Commissioner Sam Adams will announce tomorrow (5/7) that he will pull the plug on a plan to re-use the Sauvie Island Bridge span as a bicycle and pedestrian crossing over I-405 in Northwest Portland.

The decision comes on the eve of a City Council vote on the project and it was made because of a new report from the Oregon Department of Transportation that paints a bleak funding picture for City of Portland transportation projects. According to state figures, a perfect storm of high fuel prices, less miles being driven, and less gas tax revenue coming back to the city, has caused an even greater funding shortfall than expected just a few months ago.

Commissioner Adams
(Photo © J. Maus)

In a telephone conversation earlier tonight, Adams told me that, “We got updated forecasts from the state that PDOT is an additional $2 million in the hole due to reduced mileage which has affected gas tax proceeds that flow back to the city.”

The Sauvie span re-use project did not rely on gas tax revenue directly, but Adams added that, “on the other side of the equation, the implication of high fuel prices is that all of our projects that are energy intensive to build are coming in higher than anticipated.”

Because of this new report, Adams says he “can’t provide reasonable assurance” that the Sauvie span project could be completed within the guaranteed maximum price of $5.5 million, adding “I don’t feel comfortable moving forward at this point.”

“It’s a great project… it’s very sad to make this announcement, but I just can’t provide the assurance.”

Adams says he’s already contacted Max Kuney (the owner of the bridge and presumptive contractor for at least one portion of the project) to let him know PDOT will not be moving forward with the project.

A new bridge still might be coming to NW Flanders, and Adams says he’ll “proceed with the vision” as part of the Burnside-Couch Couplet plan, but according to Adams that bridge is at least “2-4 years out” (the Sauvie span was scheduled to be installed by Spring 2009).

Adams says he will ask PDOT to do an assessment of the area around NW Flanders and I-405 and he still plans to make safety improvements. “They wouldn’t provide the same benefits as the bridge,” he said, “but we’ll try to do as many cheaper/safer improvements in the corridor as we can.”

So, instead of a vote that would have authorized the start of the Sauvie Island bridge re-use project, PDOT will instead hold a news conference tomorrow morning at City Hall to announce its demise and share further information about the impact of rising gas prices on their budget.

More to come tomorrow…


— Learn more about the Sauvie Island Bridge re-use saga in the archives.

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