The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Oregon City Bridge closure looms: Shuttles in place for bikers, walkers

Posted by on December 20th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

As seen from the Oregon City side.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is set to close the Oregon City-West Linn Arch Bridge for two years starting next month. The project will renovate the 90-year old bridge but it will also cut off a key (especially for non-motorized traffic) Willamette River crossing.

ODOT has a detour in place for motor vehicles that will take them about one mile north to the I-205 Abernethy bridge. Since non-motorized traffic is illegal on I-205 (it’s a freeway) the closest, bike accessible crossings are the Sellwood Bridge eight miles north or the Canby Ferry, which is about nine miles south.

To mitigate the impact on non-motorized traffic, ODOT will run a free shuttle. Several other options — including allowing bicycle traffic on I-205 and a water taxi — were considered, but an ad-hoc group formed by ODOT decided that shuttles would be the best solution.

ODOT’s Community Affairs Coordinator Susan Hanson says regardless of state law, she feels the shuttle service (which is costing ODOT about $550,000) is preferable to freeway riding. “We felt the shuttle service we’ll provide gives people good service,” she said via telephone this morning, “It meets people’s needs in a way that’s more comfortable than riding across the [I-205] bridge.”

Hanson says the shuttle buses will have room for four bikes and will have a lift for people in wheelchairs. She estimates the trip (with loading time figured in) will take 20 minutes. Shuttles will begin operation on January 10th (about five days prior to the closure) and will be available Monday through Friday from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm and on weekends from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm. Shuttle stops will be on 9th Street between Main and McLoughlin on the Oregon City side and at the existing TriMet stop on Highway 43 where it intersects with Willamette Falls Drive on the West Linn side.

When asked what will happen if a non-motorized user needs a shuttle outside of scheduled hours, Hanson said, “We did collect some data and these were the times that seemed to meet the vast majority of people’s needs.” She also noted that there is TriMet service in the area.

The bridge is set to close on Saturday, January 15th at 6:00 am and will be closed to all traffic for up to 24 months. More information at You can also read more coverage on this project at our Oregon City Bridge Project story tag.

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

  • Wayne Myer December 20, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I knew this was coming, but… ooof. I wish that riding on I-205 was an option because whenever I ride through Oregon City, it is outside the shuttle hours.

    On that note, I recall seeing a sign on I-205 Northbound, just past the Willamette crossing saying that all non-auto needed to exit. That led me to believe that bicycle could use I-205 from I-5 to that exit. Am I just smoking crack here?

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    • Paul Johnson December 20, 2010 at 8:01 pm

      Nope, Jon seems to have forgotten that motorists are the privileged users, and bikes have a right to the road unless there’s an overwhelming safety concern necessitating a restriction.

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  • noah December 20, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    734-020-0045 Prohibition of Non-Motorized Vehicles on Freeways

    (1) Non-motorized vehicles are prohibited upon the following segments of freeways within the State of Oregon:
    (a) Portland area:
    (D) Interstate 205 (Hwy No. 64) northerly of the Overcrossing of the Oswego Highway No. 3, MP 8.82;

    That means, yes, northbound cyclists have to exit right before the bridge, and southbound cyclists cannot enter I-205 before the bridge. So Jonathan’s second paragraph is technically wrong.

    “It meets people’s needs in a way that’s more comfortable than riding across the [I-205] bridge”

    There has to be a better explanation than the one this official is offering. The shuttle might certainly be provided for the sake of our comfort, but it can’t be just for our comfort that crossing the bridge was not made legal.

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    • John Russell (jr98664) December 21, 2010 at 8:50 pm

      Don’t forget section 2:
      “(2) The closure of the above sections to bicycles and pedestrians shall become effective following the erection of adequate signing.”

      Let’s just say that according to this section of the OAR, I cycled across the Abernethy Bridge perfectly legally on Sunday.

      I’ve cycled across the Abernethy Bridge in both directions, and while not always necessarily legal, I’ve never had any trouble, either with other cars or with law enforcement. It may be narrow, but no narrower than a bike lane, and if you are fairly confident with riding in traffic, there shouldn’t be a problem, especially if you don’t try to cross any ramps.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks Paul Johnson, noah, and others for checking my accuracy on this. I’m working on a follow-up to this story that I will post to the front page.

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  • steved December 20, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Twenty minutes to cross the Willamette via bus? It takes less then a minute by bike 🙂

    BTW: The Canby Ferry is currently closed due to high water. It has been for couple weeks now.

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    • Paul Johnson December 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm

      Not that it’s a terribly good detour for Oregon City traffic anyway…

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      • steved December 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm

        True for the Oregon City to Portland commuters. I bike commute from LO to Canby. So Having the Ferry not running means detouring over the Oregon City or Boone Bridge.

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        • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 5:09 pm

          Boone Bridge will still get you across the river faster than driving. Last I tried it, Wilsonville to Aurora takes an hour by car.

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  • Paul Johnson December 20, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    jon: It’s legal to ride on the freeways (or any other highway) in Oregon, except when explicitly posted otherwise. In fact, the Oregon City Bridge is part of the route for I205, since the 205 bridge is too narrow to safely allow bicycle traffic. Watch for the “BIKES MUST EXIT” sign next time you’re driving north.

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  • CaptainKarma December 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm


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    • suburban December 20, 2010 at 9:07 pm

      O Yeah! how can they possible do this for only $750 per day, every day for two years? In many ways, Public Transportation is not the soul mate of the punctual cyclist, it is Taxi Cabs.

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  • Velowocky December 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Too bad we can’t use the rail bridge that runs from Lake Oswego to Milwaukie to get to Oregon City. It’s going to be a LONG two years for those of us in LO/West Linn who regularly ride the Oregon City area. I can’t justify 40+ minutes for a two way shuttle ride.

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    • DanS December 21, 2010 at 9:46 am

      I know of some people who have run across this bridge, so it is do- able. Personally, I think that if they adapted this bridge to accommodate bike and ped traffic, it would solve the problem of riding from Lk O to Portland.

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      • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:29 am

        The big “PEDESTRIANS PROHIBITED” sign nonwithstanding, eh?

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        • Chris December 21, 2010 at 10:37 am

          I think the trains that go across it should be the bigger warning! 🙂

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  • Spiffy December 21, 2010 at 6:44 am

    what kind of shuttle? it better be able to carry long cargo bikes and trailers…

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  • IdeaMan December 21, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Why don’t they put in a temporary bike/walker ferry? The river is pretty narrow at that point. The current is probably strong enough to use a reaction ferry. Wouldn’t even need to power it.

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    • Spiffy December 21, 2010 at 11:45 am

      I’d gladly help pedal it across the river…

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  • jim December 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    why can’t the Army corp. put up a temporary bridge for peds and cyclists?

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  • h December 22, 2010 at 10:06 am

    once I pedaled on the i-205 bridge SB from Gladstone to West Linn exit. not bad… I dont know about i-205 bridge NB but it looks iffy to me.

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  • Steve Mayes December 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I’m a reporter in The Oregonian’s Oregon City bureau. I’m writing a story about the closure and I’d like to talk to cyclists who regularly use the OC-West Linn bridge to commute.

    Steve Mayes

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