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Tell Multnomah County what type of Sellwood Bridge you want

Posted by on July 21st, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Multnomah County is moving right along with their project to replace the Sellwood Bridge. Currently they’re seeking input on what type of structure the bridge should be. Yesterday they released an online survey and there’s an open house tonight to discuss the options.

In addition to weighing in on whether the bridge should be a “girder,” “deck arch,” “extradosed,” or other type (see all six below) attendees of tonight’s open house will get an update on the status of the project, how it’s going to be funded, and what design refinements have been made since the preferred alternative was selected back in February.

The online survey, which will be up through August 8th lets you have a say in which one of six bridge types should be chosen. One question asks for your top four evaluation criteria. Among the options are “Impacts to the natural environment,” “Aesthetics/User experience,” “Cost,” and “Construction duration.” Another question asks what type of amenities and features you’d want to money spent on. Among those options are things like public artwork and areas for people on foot and bike to stop and take in the view.

A decision on structure type for the Sellwood Bridge is expected by late summer of this year. Construction of the project is slated to begin in 2012 — that is, if local jurisdictions can secure the $300 million in required funding. More information at the excellent project website, SellwoodBridge.org.

    Sellwood Bridge Open House
    Wednesday, 7/21 from 5:00 to 7:30 pm
    Oaks Park Dance Pavillion (7100 SE Oaks Park Way)

Multnomah County maintains the Sellwood Bridge, five other Willamette River bridges and 300 miles of roads. For project information, visit www.sellwoodbridge.org.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Anonymous July 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Here’s the criteria.

    1. Safe.
    2. Least expensive.
    3. Includes proper travel lanes for bikes and pedestrians.

    It could look like the Bridge on the River Kwai for all I care, as long as it meets the criteria.

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  • A-dub July 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Website says take it before Aug. 18th

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  • are July 21, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    a lot of the survey has to do with how people might want the bridge to “look.” with one exception, you are not required to answer any of that stuff in order to get through the survey. there are a few comment boxes where you can put in stuff about bike/ped accommodation.

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  • Jack July 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    “bridge closures vary from 2 to 4 weeks during the construction period”

    It took that long just to re-pave about 15 blocks of N Williams. No way they’re replacing a bridge that fast.

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  • GlowBoy July 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Just took the survey. The latter two options (through-arch and extradosed) seem unwise because they are more expensive and trickier to phase in. Budgets are tight, and our staged construction schedule calls for a partial bridge will be built alongside the existing bridge, then opened to traffic while the existing bridge is knocked down and replaced with the remainder of the new bridge. Both of these designs sound difficult (meaning $$$) to build this way.

    Of the remaining choices, I’d rank the deck-arch first, followed by the delta frame, the box girder and the tied-arch. Not a fan of the tied-arch either really, but I’d choose whichever of the other 3 is cheapest if that allows some extra room in the budget for extra amenities like bike/ped pullouts, better lighting, architectural detailing and paint treatments.

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  • Jessica Roberts July 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Anonymous #1 – the bridge cross-section has been finalized, and it includes two 12-foot travel lanes, two 12-foot shared use sidewalks (like on the Hawthorne), and two 6.5-foot bike lanes. You can see a graphic here. The survey Jonathan writes about is only about the bridge type.

    So, assuming you agree that the preferred alternative is “proper travel lanes for bikes and pedestrians” – and I assume you do, as both bike lanes and wide shared use sidewalks will make it the highest level of bike/ped accommodation on any Willamette River bridge – you don’t have anything to worry about.

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  • are July 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    the so-called bike lanes are actually shoulders

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  • GlowBoy July 21, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    And just for clarification, this survey is regarding the overall structural design of the bridge. The lane configurations and deck layouts are already decided.

    Regardless of architecture, the final bridge will have at least two 12-foot travel lanes, two 12-foot shared use sidewalks, and two 6.5-foot bike lanes/emergency shoulders all the way across; as well as improved access ramps at the west end, and a new pedestrian/bike-activated signal at the east end.

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  • Laura July 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Jack #4 – the bridge types under discussion can be built in halves. The new south half built first, with the existing bridge in operation. Traffic would be moved to the south half, while the old bridge is demolished and new north half is built.

    This allows traffic to continue using the bridge, with the exception of some short periods.

    It probably would, however require that bike and foot access be limited during the time when traffic is on the south half.

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  • A.K. July 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Laura: Somewhat like what they are doing with the McLaughlin overpass near OMSI?

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  • Laura July 21, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    A.K. – yep similar to the MLK Viaduct replacement

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  • Red Five July 21, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    It should have a toll for cyclists.

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  • Jason July 22, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Some people have said the bridge should be the cheapest possible, but shouldn’t the extra cost of achieving good aesthetics and environmental impact worth some extra cost. This structure will be around possibly for generations. I think most people would agree that the Fremont bridge is more iconic than the Marquam bridge (I-5 bridge). Portland is a little known for it’s bridges.

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  • Anonymous July 22, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Good looks don’t deserve extra cost, environmental impact might, but then again if you want zero impact don’t go driving pilings into river beds.

    Feel free to offer up whatever extra disposable income you have to the project, I prefer to keep the budget low and the government out of my pockets, particularly for something the is solely an opinion based decision.

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  • John July 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Not to be a downer, but there was an exhaustive public process last year that I was very marginally involved in (as a neutral third party). The word I heard then from those more involved than I was that the public input was quickly dismissed after months of workshops and studies.


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  • OuterToob July 22, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I think we should go with construction that is a cheap as humanly possible, that theory worked well for the oil rigs in the Gulf, we should apply it to a bridge.

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  • OuterToob July 22, 2010 at 10:55 am

    “as cheap as”


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  • Paul Johnson July 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I want the one that has no motor vehicle lanes and is paid for by motorists. Beyond that, I don’t give a shit.

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  • Anonymous July 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm


    Way to take things out of context.

    No one said to build it as “cheap as is humanly possible”.

    You can build a structurally sound bridge that meets the transportation needs of the community for many different costs.

    Many say build the least expensive one that meets those needs, the bells and whistles aren’t needed. It’s not an art project it’s a bridge.

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  • OuterToob July 23, 2010 at 11:43 am


    ‘I’ said we should build it as cheap as humanly possible. That is ‘one’ person saying ‘cheap as humanly possible’.

    If I thought it was an ‘art project’ I would have said make a Popsicle-stick bridge which actually might bring the cost waaaaay down.

    So now I propose a very inexpensive Popsicle-stick bridge – thank you for allowing me to come back and add context.

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  • jim July 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Which one is the most likely to survive an earthquake? Which one is the more cost effective for upkeep? Don’twant to close it down for 2 mo to redo expansion joints

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  • argh August 5, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Am I the only one who can’t get to the survey? The link just leads me to a blank Multnomah County web page. I’ve tried several browsers, both PC and Mac, and from work / home networks. Frustrating…

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