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Clackamas County looks to create bikeway on Highway 43

Clackamas County wants to take a look at
how to improve biking conditions on Highway 43.

Clackamas County wants to make Highway 43 a nicer place to ride a bike. The County released a request for proposals (RFP) last week to find a consulting engineer to study the feasibility of creating a bikeway on the highway. Currently, Highway 43 offers the only direct connection between Lake Oswego and Portland. The road — with the Willamette River on one side and hills rising up on the other — is a two-lane, high-speed corridor with shoulders but with no specific markings or facilities for bike-only travel.

The RFP specifically states that the County is looking for someone to, “perform an alternatives analysis on installing bike lanes on Highway 43 between the Lake Oswego city limits and the Sellwood Bridge.”

“From Clackamas County’s perspective, we wanted to make sure we were not losing sight of lower cost alternatives… What can we do now?”
— Kathy Buehrig, Clackamas County Transportation Planner

Clackamas County is using $150,000 set aside for the Lake Oswego to Portland Streetcar project in order to pay for this consultant. The Lake Oswego to Portland Streetcar project is estimated to cost about $450 million dollars. Metro’s just released draft environmental impact statement on the project deals only with transit. A physically separate multi-use path (like the Springwater Corridor Trail on the east side of the river) is currently under consideration by Metro (more on that later).

Karen Buehrig, Clackamas County transportation planner, said they strongly support a non-motorized, multi-use trail, but they are looking for a more affordable option that improves cycling conditions in the near-term. “From Clackamas County’s perspective,” she told me via telephone this morning, “We wanted to make sure we were not losing sight of lower cost alternatives… What can we do now?”

Buehrig says Clackamas County hosted a public meeting back in September about the idea of improving biking conditions on Highway 43. After that meeting, the County was convinced that it would be worthwhile come up with some concepts that would use the existing highway right-of-way. “A theme of that meeting was that there is a need for a better bikeway on the highway.”

At a minimum, it’s likely the consultant would call for bike lanes to be striped on both sides of the highway; but, it remains to be seen exactly what type of bikeway design comes out of the process.

At this point, there is no funding identified for implementing any new bikeway designs, but Buehrig sees this feasibility exercise as a key step toward making the project more appealing to various transportation grant opportunities. “The projects that are ready to go are the ones that get funded. They need some legwork. That’s part of why we’re interested in doing this.”

The deadline for the RFP is January 4th. We’ll keep you posted.

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