Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 27th, 2009 at 3:42 pm
The historic arch bridge that connects Oregon City to West Linn will close for two years starting this November.
The Oregon City Bridge opened in 1922 and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) says it is in dire need of maintenance and rehabilitation work. The result of this major project is that the bridge will be completely closed to all traffic (that includes motor vehicles, bikes and pedestrians) for the duration of the work.
This is bad news for many local bike riders for whom the bridge is an important connection — not just for everyday transportation but as a key way to access popular recreational rides.
“Two years is a long time to ask people to totally re-adjust their transit routes, especially in light of limited viable options nearby.”
— Otis Rubottom, SE Portland resident and regular bridge rider
The closest, bike accessible crossings are the Sellwood Bridge eight miles north or the Canby Ferry, which is about nine miles south. (Bikes are prohibited on the I-205 bridge).
Otis Rubottom, a southeast Portland resident and author of local ride guide, Rubber to the Road, Volume II, told me he uses the bridge several times a month. “It’s a regular component of my riding schedule,” he said. For Rubottom, the Oregon City Bridge was a key way to build great routes because alternate roads have much more traffic and/or dangerous crossings.
Rubottom wishes there was a way to maintain bike/pedestrian access throughout the project; “Two years is a long time to ask people to totally re-adjust their transit routes, especially in light of limited viable options nearby.”
According to ODOT project manager Rick Keene, the current plan is to use Tri-Met buses and/or other shuttle vehicles to move non-motorized traffic around the bridge closure. Even Keene admits these detour plans are less than ideal; “We don’t have many options here.”
It’s not yet known how many riders (and their bikes) the buses will be able to carry at one time and then there’s the matter of waiting for the next bus.
According to recent ODOT traffic counts, 70 bike riders went northbound on the bridge from 9:00 am to 2:00pm on a Saturday. There were also just about 70 people riding bikes northbound on a weekday count.
Keene and other partners on this project say they’ve brainstormed and tried to come up with better detour plans for non-motorized traffic and they’d love to hear more ideas from the community. If you have suggestions or feedback, please leave them in the comments below.
For more information about the project, check out the official project website at ArchRehab.com