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Clackamas voters say no to $5 Sellwood Bridge fee

Posted by on May 18th, 2011 at 9:27 am

Sellwood Bridge Tour with Richard M.-8

No love from Clackamas residents.
(Photo © J. Maus)

In case you haven’t heard, Clackamas County voters soundly rejected (63-37 percent) a $5 annual vehicle registration fee that would have raised $22 million to help pay for the ailing Sellwood Bridge over the Willamette River.

The fee was passed by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners back in December, but activist groups (including Americans for Prosperity) opposed the fee and organized to get the issue on the ballot.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) urged their members to vote in favor of the measure: “Don’t let a vocal group of anti-tax residents speak on your behalf,” they wrote in a blog post, “when they claim that safety and accessibility are not priorities for Clackamas County residents.”

While the bridge resides in Multnomah County, it carries a substantial amount of Clackamas County traffic (the $22 million is only 7% of the total bridge cost).

Even so, anti-fee petition leaders are likely celebrating a sweet victory this morning. One of them, Dan Holladay, had an interesting quote in The Oregonian last night (emphasis mine):

“Voters sent the message that Clackamas County isn’t Portland, and it’s time for some fiscal responsibility,” Holladay said. “The county commissioners need to figure out how to use the money they have wisely instead of just tossing it around for the next green sustainable project, bikes and bike paths. In Clackamas County, we drive cars.”

Without this contribution from Clackamas County, the project now has a funding gap (the County has said they don’t have any other money). It’s unclear how that gap will be filled (total funding shortfall for the bridge is $42 million).

Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Karfoury said today via the Multnomah County website that,

“Now that Clackamas County voters have spoken, we will roll up our sleeves to try to complete this important project without their help… Replacing the bridge must remain our top transportation priority.”

As for next steps, Karfoury said,

“Our choices are to delay portions of the project, pursue funds at the state and federal levels even though both of those sources are very uncertain, or identify further cost savings without sacrificing safety improvements that are a must for all bridge users.”

We’ll keep you posted.

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115 Comments
  • Avatar
    andy May 18, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Shut down the bridge. Just shut it down. Clackamas County wants to drive? Fine. They can take I-205 north or south, or sit in traffic on McLoughlin.

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      dan May 18, 2011 at 9:39 am

      One more vote for shutting the bridge down, or making it a dedicated bike/pedestrian facility. Refusing to pay $5/year for 2 years…those are some seriously short-sighted and stingy folks over there in Clackamas.

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        Pliny May 18, 2011 at 9:47 am

        Making it bike/ped only won;t keep it from falling into the river. I say fix the bridge and toll it. Give Mult. Co. residents a discount or free passes, and let the cheapskates in Clackamas actually pay for what they use.

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        Paul Souders May 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

        The bridge is a collapse hazard regardless of traffic. I think heavy vehicles (20K lbs) are already restricted.

        http://www.sellwoodbridge.org/?p=frequently-asked-questions

        The more I think about it, the more it’s apparent we should just close it down, full stop. That will focus us: do we NEED this bridge or not? I think most Portlanders would shrug, the balance of traffic in Multnomah is far to the north. Leaving it open reinforces the notion that it can be “fixed” or that it isn’t a problem. It can’t and it is.

        And to reiterate: my family depends on this bridge. Hell until recently we were Clackamas Co. voters and taxpayers! I have a dog in this fight and I still think the right thing is either: share the costs or shut it down.

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      Paul Souders May 18, 2011 at 9:43 am

      Yes. And for context: my family crosses this bridge (by car) 30+/times/week. If we can’t afford it, we shouldn’t have it.

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      q`Tzal May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

      They don’t want to be part of the city?
      Fine, shut down the bridge.

      Better yet, if Clackamas residents really don’t want to be part of a big mean metropolitan area, we should live up to that big bad reputation.
      Extra income tax on out of county residents working in in Multnomah county. Multnomah, as the densest part of the metro region, unfairly bears the burden of providing roads, transit and police coverage for people that are not paying county taxes.

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        middle of the road guy May 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

        I assume they are free to do the same to Multnomah county residents.

        It’s an issue of fairness, right?

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      Adam May 18, 2011 at 11:37 am

      Amen!!!

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    Nick V May 18, 2011 at 9:36 am

    That bridge is going to collapse long before people decide what to do about it. Welcome to Oregon.

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    Cezar May 18, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Hope Clackamas County enjoys them gas prices.

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    Paul Souders May 18, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Between this and the CRC I’m ready to privatize bridges. What’s it gonna be, $5/yr or $1/trip?

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      Paul May 18, 2011 at 9:53 am

      🙂

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        single track May 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

        +1

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      Jack May 18, 2011 at 10:32 am

      I’d be sadly willing to be that given those two choices, a fair number of people would still choose $1/trip because $1 < $5.

      +1 for making it a toll bridge where Mult. Co. residents get a discount.

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      are May 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      be careful what you wish for. we are already privatizing war, education, potable water . . .
      there must be something that society actually provides for people who have been chewed up and spit out by the capitalist system. or not.

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        Alan 1.0 May 18, 2011 at 12:37 pm

        I certainly would have thought that Americans for prosperity would consider a $132 return on a $10 investment over two years ($ 22M/290M) to be something to wish for. At least, I would have until I saw so many people fall for the laugher curve.

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        beth h May 19, 2011 at 3:48 pm

        The more services and infrastructure get privatized, the less society HAS to provide for those whose needs will no longer be met.
        That’s the inherent beauty of pure capitalism. It’s socio-economic Darwinism of an insidious and seldom-discussed sort.
        Clackamas County wants to drive, and only drive, because limiting lower-speed travel and access not only saves the county money, it props up the continued existence of a sterilized suburban landscape that keeps some people out.

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      Joseph E May 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      That sounds like a good solution, actually. Cars can get the same transponders that will be used for the Columbia Crossing boondoggle. All the Willamette bridges can have $1 tolls each way, including those downtown, and the I-5 and 405 bridges would be $2. Just add another toll to the tunnel on 26 and on 5 south of downtown, and on 30 at Forest park, and you could have a congestion pricing system for Downtown.

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    Chris I May 18, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Eliminate the Mult Co registration fee and bond the remaining amount, to be payed back with tolling income. Clackamas Co will pay either way. Call it a “weight based toll”. Cars pay $2 per crossing, bikes and pedestrians pay a small fraction of a penny.

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    Mike Quigley May 18, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Declare the bridge unsafe for vehicular traffic (which it is!). Only peds and bikes are allowed.

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      Jene-Paul May 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Uh, bikes are vehicles. How ’bout “unsafe” for motor vehicles…

      Lotsa old bridges end up being kept on MUPs & rail-trail conversions that would otherwise be closed to motorized traffic because of reduction in load-bearing capacity. Just put life preservers every so many meters along the railing for when a section falls into the Willamette.

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    Patrick Croasdaile May 18, 2011 at 9:43 am

    As a Clackamas County resident, I’m saddened to hear that this measure failed. I’m afraid that until the government–at all levels–begins to acknowledge that single-car trips are going to be more costly in the long run, we are likely to hear this sort of rhetoric from Dan Holladay. In the end, higher gas prices and rising rates of obesity will speak louder than short-sighted rabble-rousing like this. Sorry Multnomah, but some of us tried… we just failed.

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    Chad May 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Simple solution. Tolls. If you’re vehicle is licensed in Clackamas county, you pay double. Drive them cars, Clackamas folks! You deserve them.

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    Evan May 18, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I’m sorry, Multnomah county drivers are paying $19 a year for the next 20 years to pay for this bridge. You can’t come up with $10 total?

    Shut it down and give me my money back. I’ve got 2 cars registered in Multnomah county, and I think I’ve driven across the Sellwood bridge once in my 10 years as a licensed driver in the Portland area.

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    Aaron Brown May 18, 2011 at 9:49 am

    As seen via the @loadedorygun twitter account last night (paraphrased):

    The tax opponent said “In Clackamas County, we drive cars.” YEAH, DUMMY. OVER THE SELLWOOD BRIDGE.

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    Brian Johnson May 18, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Well, Mr. Holladay is right about motorists not knowing what to do around cyclists in Clackamas county. Here I am, just 11 miles south of downtown Portland and, when riding my bike, I’m on the receiving end of plenty of ignorance and ill-will. More folks seem to drive Suburban Assault Vehicles down here, too.

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    poncho May 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

    “In Clackamas County, we drive cars.”… and want Multnomah County resident to pay for ours.

    Forget tolls… just tear the bridge down and don’t replace it. Theres plenty of bridges to the north, so it ain’t going to hurt Portlanders… Ross Island, Marquam, Hawthorne, Morrison, etc. But there’s none to the south. Let ’em drive an extra 20 minutes. And if Clackamas County residents weren’t so cheap they could build their own between Lake Oswego and Oak Grove.

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    Woodstock_Cyclist May 18, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I’d be all for closing the bridge immediately to vehicular traffic if my wife didn’t use it daily to cross from our house in Woodstock to work in Lake Oswego (yes, one of the 70% of trips that begins or ends in ClackCo, though also one of the 80% of trips that begins or ends in Portland). She’d love to bike to work each day, and the distance isn’t necessarily the killer–it’s the choice of either risking death daily on Highway 43, or biking up and over the cemetery and through Tryon Creek State Park (a serious detour). Additionally, closing the bridge–let’s face it–would have a major impact on Sellwood businesses.

    I’m ticked off, though not surprised, that Clackamas County voters chose not to pay a miniscule fee for an important piece of regional infrastructure. It demonstrates the absurdity of how we manage our bridges. If tolling for certain residents were actually feasible, I’d be all for that. But it’s probably not feasible.

    In reality, what we’re likely facing is a scaled-down design and a hunt for new funding. Sadly, it may only serve to affirm the selfish shortsightedness of the voters who came out in this election (which to be fair is a minority of Clackamas County voters).

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    q`Tzal May 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

    $6 one way toll on Sellwood Bridge.
    Everyone in Multnomah gets issued an E-ZPass transponder and routed through quickly.
    Everyone else gets routed through a single lane un-automated toll booth staffed by some loser that got fired from pumping gas.

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      ron May 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      Right on!

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      middle of the road guy May 18, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      Maybe we can charge minorities higher tolls also.

      I hope you see how ignorant that statement is, and therefore yours.

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        eric May 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm

        People from clackamas co who do not want to pay a little extra for infrastructure are not equivalent to minorities AT ALL. One can move out of Crackalacky and have no one the wiser: one can’t stop being a minority.

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    Robert May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Here’s a Clackamas County voter, bike commuter, and car driver that supported the $5 VRF. Our taxes go to maintain roads all across the state whether I drive on them or not. And it benefits me. We must live in the age of myopia. And Brian, I don’t receive much ill-will here when I ride in Oak Grove or Oregon City.

    Are these calls for tolling physically feasible or is it just a way of letting off steam, in frustration?

    As a possible prelude to tolling, how about an article looking at the considerations for a regional bridge authority? I thought Portland was working out a deal to get the Sellwood Bridge from Mult Co after the project, which if anything sounds like the wrong direction to go in, if we want to drive home that shared resources should be paid for by everyone. Unless of course Portland would plan to toll the bridge.

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      kj May 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

      I think some are serious and some are letting off steam.

      As someone who lived in the California Bay Area for awhile, tolls are familiar to me, and I think they are a great way to raise money for bridge maintenance. Use ’em often, get an EZ pass. If not, keep a few bucks on you. You are only tolled in one direction. Everyone who uses them pays, so it is a shared cost and if you use it more you pay more, which seems fair to me. HOV and low emissions vehicles get a discount, vanpools, peds and bikes are free, multi axle vehicle which cause more wear pay more. http://bata.mtc.ca.gov/tolls/schedule.htm

      I am fine with tolls, because I have lived with them and driven over fine, seismically safe(over time as that was much of the tolling is for), well maintained bridges that move traffic efficiently in my life. But since I rarely use the Sellwood bridge I don’t really have a cart in that race. I think people deserve a good bridge though for whom that is a vital connection.

      But can understand why a culture unused to tolls would balk. I think the ballot measure was a pretty good deal really.

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        q`Tzal May 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm

        All off a sudden I’m seen a book titled …
        “Free Ride: How Oil, Gas, Roadway and Parking Subsidies Over the Last 60 Years Have Helped to Bankrupt our Country”

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      Peter W May 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      > Are these calls for tolling physically feasible

      I’m in Austin, TX right now. They’ve got tolls on some of the newer highways and apparently how it works is they have video cameras that capture license plates and the computer looks up the registered address and mails them a bill (for everyone who doesn’t have ez-pass).

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    Rol May 18, 2011 at 10:23 am

    In Clackamas County, we don’t have five bucks. A YEAR.

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      Rol May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Cuz we’re strapped from paying all our car-related expenses!

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    timbo May 18, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Mr. Holladay,

    The Sellwood bridge is owned by Multnomah County not the City of Portland. Last I heard the city was solvent and fiscally within their transportation budget anyway.

    Furthermore when the Sellwood bridge falls into the Willamette River it will impact far more Clackamas County drivers then it will bicyclists.

    So it looks like you’ve taken out your disdain for Portland and bicyclists on a Multnomah County bridge that your peeps love to drive on.

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    Lisa May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Toll it then give Multnomah residents quick passes. Maybe then Clackamas residents will rethink their vote.

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    Oliver May 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Good. Close the darn thing.

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    a.O May 18, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Shut ‘er down!

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    tax payer #n+~ May 18, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Allow only multnomah county residents to drive across it. Special tags on our plates… And a one time $100 fee for those in Clackamas who drive it. We’d come up with the money pretty quick.

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    K'Tesh May 18, 2011 at 10:37 am

    How about erecting a fence around the county, and charge fees to enter?

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      middle of the road guy May 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm

      I think the residents of Clackamas would appreciate not having so many Priuses and Subarus driving through their county.

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    kww May 18, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Unbelievable! The majority of drivers are from Clackamas. Put a toll gate up at the county line, or just close the bridge.

    Portland can do traffic calming to restrict those drivers to 99E and keep them out of our neighborhoods.

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      kww May 18, 2011 at 11:03 am

      I should note that I live 4 blocks away from the bridge, so this affects me in every way.

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    huh May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

    this news broke my heart. 🙁 I am one of 37%. I live in Clackamas. I commute to Portland Downtown by bike. Currently Sellwood bridge really sucks to go across by cars, bikes and legs. It would be great to be a ped-bike bridge. Car people could go by Ross Island.

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    JT May 18, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Pliny
    Making it bike/ped only won;t keep it from falling into the river.

    Are you sure about that? Although I’m not familiar with the exact structural problems the bridge faces, would the bridge really be in need of dire repair without the stress of many many tons of steel hurling across all day? Even if it were still in need of some repair, I imagine that getting it into a state where it could support the weight of bikes and pedestrians only would be drastically less expensive.

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      Jesse May 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Sadly yes, it would still fail eventually, most of the failure is not due to traffic, but to the “active” landslide on the West side of the river that is slowly sinking the approach to the bridge span

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    JE May 18, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Shut it down.

    and if the City of Portland or any entity other than Multnomah County has promised funding for a new Sellwood bridge, they should withdrawl their offer.

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    single track May 18, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Tolls, Tolls, Tolls! toll it. its absurd not to.

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    Lazlo May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am

    The problem with a toll is that drivers will just avoid the bridge if they have an alternative, like taking I-205 or the Ross Island.

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      dan May 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      That’s true. There are two options: the toll could be small enough that most perceive the convenience to be worth the cost – like $1 each way. Or, we could just toll everything…

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        spare_wheel May 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

        toll them all!

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          middle of the road guy May 18, 2011 at 9:37 pm

          Let’s have bike fees, too!

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            spare_wheel May 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

            bikes reduce congestion and decrease wear and tear. it would make far more sense to use gas taxes and fees to enourage MORE people to bike.

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            middle of the road guy May 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

            It might make more sense to you, but it fails from a fairness perspective….and therefore does not make a good political argument.

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            Tym May 20, 2011 at 9:38 am

            not everything has “to be fair.” life isn’t fair. when Multnomah county residents (including ones who commute by bike) bankroll it and it is already used by a good amount of Clackamas County residents its not an issue of fairness. Multnomah county cyclists already pay enough road taxes for the amount of impact they have on the roads to cover any “toll.”

            get out of the “middle of the road”. its a stupid place to be.

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        Lazlo May 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

        Exactly. If I were to make an occasional crossing of the bridge, a $1 toll might be bearable, but if I cross it twice a day to get to work, that’s $40 a month or so. Or, I could choose to tax myself $5 per year :,)There are no toll bridges entirely within Oregon. the only three are the Bridge of the Gods, the Hood River Bridge, and The Dalles Bridge; none of these have an alternative crossing nearby.

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    Paul Hanrahan May 18, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Why can’t the tri county area own and share the costs of all the bridges? Kind of like a Metro deal: that’s the way it is with busses and light rail, why not apply the same logic to the bridges? Used by all, shared costs by all. Disclaimer: I live in Clackamas County but I am embaressed to say so now.

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    Andrew Seger May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

    It really is time for some congestion charges on Clack residents.

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      middle of the road guy May 18, 2011 at 9:39 pm

      And the could return the favor. Unless no MultnoCO resident has ever driven through Clackamas.

      All we are doing is rehashing the Portland/Vancouver debate.

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        spare_wheel May 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

        now thats an excellent idea!!!

        *your mall would become the ghost town it deserves to be.

        *multnomah county residents would shop closer to where they live.

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          middle of the road guy May 19, 2011 at 10:22 am

          How nice of you to project your parochial values onto others.

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            q`Tzal May 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm

            middle of the road guy
            May 18, 2011 at 9:34 pm
            Maybe we can charge minorities higher tolls also.

            May 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm
            q,
            makes you wonder why the employers are hiring them? Perhaps they work harder or are smarter and more talented that the local residents.

            May 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm
            I think the residents of Clackamas would appreciate not having so many Priuses and Subarus driving through their county.

            May 19, 2011 at 10:21 am
            It might make more sense to you, but it fails from a fairness perspective….and therefore does not make a good political argument.

            May 19, 2011 at 10:22 am
            How nice of you to project your parochial values onto others.

            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parochial
            definition of PAROCHIAL
            #3: confined or restricted as if within the borders of a parish : limited in range or scope (as to a narrow area or region) : provincial, narrow

            I suspect at 10:22 you meant “narrow”.
            Your comment at 9:34 and 9:41 are unprovoked and inappropriate initiations of racial and class superiority demagoguery.
            Your comment at 9:36 is a wonderful bit of stereotyping.
            I agree with your perspective and you have actually convinced me of the “rightness” of part of your argument: taxing everyone in Clackamas Co for an out of county resource (bridge) that a potential minority uses is unfair.

            None of that makes your view of the situation any less “narrow”. Just because it is your view does not make it right.

            And while a targeted toll on a bridge is the fairest way to finance public works construction it has also proven to be counter-productive in terms of commerce when it comes to roads and other methods of freight transport. The existence of a free, from the user’s perspective, roadway system has measurably increase commercial and economic vitality in this country and all other that have done so.

            While some of us may want to eliminate all or most automotive traffic let us not forget that these poor nation planning decisions brought us to this level of prosperity.

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    Fred May 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I stick with my idea to tear the bridge down and not replace it. The new Max line to Milwaukie is already funded and approved. Clackamas County commuters can ride the Max into downtown.

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    Jack May 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Who ever decided that Americans for Prosperity should get to have a voice in this? Once on the ballot, the outcome is obvious.
    Q: We’re going to build/repair this bridge. Would you rather:
    1) Pay a total of $10
    2) Pay nothing

    Where’s my ballot to not pay taxes for all the public services I don’t want to pay for?

    Americans for Prosperity need to be reminded that Americans are required to pay taxes.

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    JE May 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    on tolls:

    I might be wrong on this, but I believe that when the City gave control of the bridges over to the County decades ago, part of the deal was that Multnomah County would never levy tolls on the bridges.

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    mmann May 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Honestly – In a single vote Clackamas County voters just redefined “cheap” and “selfish.”

    btw – I grew up in Clackamas County and lived there for years. And I still ride my bike in Clackamas County all the time.

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    Greg May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Could be that people in Clackamas County just don’t like the idea of having light rail and the trolley shoved down their throats.

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      q`Tzal May 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Could be that Clacks need to give up their jobs in the city if they don’t like the costs or evils of big city life.

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        middle of the road guy May 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

        q,

        makes you wonder why the employers are hiring them? Perhaps they work harder or are smarter and more talented that the local residents.

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      Andrew May 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      Could be….so they tanked an automobile-centric bridge project?

      Seems like the AFP folks in Clack Co are all about JOBS. Wouldn’t “prosperity” grow if Bob’s Red Mill, Oregon Iron Works and Precision Castparts could ship freight over the Sellwood Bridge? Dan Holladay factor that in?

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    Jim Lee May 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    According to Gail Achterman (private communication), Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission, any expense over $80 million to replace the bridge at Sellwood would have zero benefit to the transportation infrastructure of the state of Oregon.

    As Multnomah County and its assigns try to convince us that we must spend $290 million for a new bridge, those who castigate the fine folk of Clackamas County need to open their minds to the real world rather than the public relations flim-flam that Kafoury, Cogen, and others have concocted..

    And yes, I have done my homework on this, for more than three years. I have all the numbers. Let’s have an open debate, in person. Could you organize it, Jonathan?

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      Jesse May 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      Jim, I may be incorrect, but my understanding is that replacing the bridge itself is relatively cheap, most of the cost in the project is coming from reconfiguring and stabilizing the intersection at the west end of the Bridge. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I believe the actual bridge cost comes in at around the $80 million mark you mentioned

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    David Parsons May 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    The “fine folk” of Clackamas County can, I’m afraid, stuff it in their ear. A /lot/ of the traffic that clutters up Westmoreland, Sellwood, and the Sellwood Bridge is people driving either to or from Clackamas County, and if they want to keep on being parasites they can find a different effing host to leech off of.

    The $80m replacement cost for a bridge was /10 years ago/. If Ms. Achterman claims that there hasn’t been any inflation over the past decade, she’s either ignorant or lying.

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      kww May 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      The people of Sellwood would benefit without all that traffic passing through, though the businesses would balk at such a proposition.

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    Psyfalcon May 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    So much for personal responsibility. Make Multnomah pay for the bridge then I get to drive over it for FREE!

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    dwainedibbly May 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Multnomah Country screwed up. They should have closed the bridge for a week, right before the ballots got mailed out, for “safety inspections”. Let everyone know the consequences of no bridge, then let them vote on it.

    I agree that it should be closed to motor vehicles. It’s too dangerous as is.

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    charley May 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Just shut it down and make em whine about it. Declare it unsafe and say we can’t afford to fix it.
    Furthermore, why do we bother to elect representatives if we put dumb stuff on ballots like this? I thought that was the whole point of a Republican form of government, as opposed to a Democratic form of government.

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    Tim May 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Or, could there just be more residents that live in Clackamas county that don’t use the Sellwood bridge at all.

    Clackamas is a large county with, large areas to the east, like Sandy, Or. Should residents in rural
    Clacamas county pay for this project? We may or may not support their decision on this, but at least we could try and understand their point of view.

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      Steve May 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      Should residents of Corbett have to pay? C’mon it’s a regional bridge and Clackamas Co. should pony up.

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        Tim May 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm

        I bet the residents of Corbet have very little voter power compared to Portland, so they will have to pay for what Portland wants anyway.

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    Liz May 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Clackamas County. Uugh. What a bunch of parasitic leeches.

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    Brian May 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    So let me get this straight.

    YESTERDAY, the Oregonian publishes an article tearing bicyclists to shreds for using our roads without paying motorist taxes.

    TODAY, Clackamas County hummer drivers decide to drive on our roads… without paying taxes.

    Well, which is it to be motorists? Make up yr frickin’ minds already.

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      middle of the road guy May 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Brian, do mulnomah county residents drive on clackamas streets without paying taxes?

      Face it, there is no zero-sum equation in this scenario. Sometimes you come out ahead, some times you don’t. In this situation, Multnomah owns the bridge and it is their responsibility to pay for it. It would have been a show of good faith for Clack county to have ponied up some money, but they are under no obligation to do so….no more than we are obliged to pay for their infrastructure.

      Sure, they use the bridge to commute to their jobs here, but my question to that is “So What?”

      Maybe you should propose a tax on the Multnomah county businesses that hire Clack county residents, instead of on every Clack country resident, who may or may not use the bridge.

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        q`Tzal May 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm

        Yeah, an extra tax income tax on a Clackamas resident’s private income if they are working in Multnomah County.

        That’s fair.
        I’m all for the Walden Pond lifestyle but if you want to give up on civil society don’t expect any benefits from it.

        “No taxation without representation” goes BOTH ways.

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    Peter W May 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Could they put this up for vote again… but shutdown the bridge the week before the election?

    Also, if 70% of trips begin/end in Clackamas County, shouldn’t they pay more than 7% of the total project cost?

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      middle of the road guy May 19, 2011 at 10:30 am

      No. because they do not own it.

      Should Multnomah residents pay for a percentage of any street improvement in another county…just because a percentage of those vehicle miles traveled originate elsewhere?

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    Clackmas resident and cyclist May 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I’d say, close the bridge. I live in Clackamas County, read this blog daily, bike frequently, and I own a business in Portland (and I pay a fair share of taxes in both jurisdictions). As a business owner, who pays property taxes in portland as part of my rent, I don’t get to vote on the big issues like the school bonds that could have increased my rent in Portland, but I’d love to because those bonds would have directly affected the bottom line of my business.

    In late 2010 I actually wrote a letter of support for the $5 fee increase to the County Commissioners, but when I finally got down to voting, I voted NO on the bridge fee in Clackamas Co and here is why:

    If you read the Clackamas Co voters guide, there was only a short summary of the ballot, not the actual text of the measure. It was unclear in the voters guide what we were getting ourselves into: if or when the $5 fee would end, or if fee could have been raised at any time by the county commissioners to a higher price. If the actual text of the measure had been in the voters guide and I could have seen what we were getting ourselves into, I might have voted yes, but they did themselves a big disservice by not making the ballot language more accessible (and trust me, I tried to find it on the web which got me nothing).

    This was not a 2 year /$5 per year deal as some comments above state, because that would not = $22 million based on the number of registered vehicles in Clackamas Co.

    Clackamas County has approx. 325,000 registered vehicles, which means an additional $1.5 million per year in revenues. To reach the $22 million it would take approx. 14 years.

    I don’t trust politicians who use scare tactics to try and get me to vote, and fill my mail box with propaganda prior to a vote. I have to wonder if they wanted us to vote on a measure that we didn’t really know the language? If the bridge is as bad as they say, just close it and let us Clackamas residents feel the pain until a new bridge is built.

    Do I think Clackamas County needs to help pay, YES. Do they need to do a better job telling us what we are actually voting for, YES.

    On a side note to the BTA, why don’t you start showing your face in Clackamas county when we need your help to get things done outside of Portland proper? Do you ever ride your bikes through Clackamas Co? Some of us have been in the trenches out here trying to get bikes on the radar of our local jurisdictions for years and the BTA has been absent.

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      Kristen May 19, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Very interesting post.

      I’m glad to learn just what the voters were reading when they cast their votes– without proper and full information, of course people are going to vote no.

      Who writes the summary and explanatory statements for the county voters guides? I honestly don’t know, that’s why I’m asking.

      As for your plea to the BTA, Clack rez, well that will fall on deaf ears. If you’re not within Portland city limits you don’t exist for the BTA.

      You’d be better off forming your own group for the county; check in with Washington County’s bike group for tips on how to get organized and going.

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    matt picio May 18, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Close and remove the bridge. If we can’t afford to fix it and maintain it, well, we know where everyone’s priority lies. Clackamas County can build their own bridge 8 blocks south next to the rowing club and the golf course, on Clackamas County land.

    As a side note, part of the reason this measure failed is because there was only a summary published – the text of the measure was not in the ballot, nor available on the web. If I’d lived in Clackamas County, I’d have voted “no” too – I won’t vote yes on any measures that I can’t read the text on in order to verify that the summary accurately reflects the actual bill.

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      Dude May 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      Dont need to remove it, it will do that by itself.

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      middle of the road guy May 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

      Clack county can’t build a bridge in another county.

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        spare_wheel May 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm

        is clackamas county incapable of building a bridge in their own county. lets frakking find out.

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    Dude May 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I think they should just close it down, then people would be more likely to pay $5 to get their bridge replaced. Im not so sure I even want to cross it any more.

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    Drew May 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    For the cost of 2 happy meals per clackamas co driver this could be a done deal?
    Dan says it comes down to wasting money on bike paths. When I ride the bridge I get yelled at that I should be on the sidewalk (that’s for peds) or I should “get on the bikepath” (which does not exist). So they had a chance to get all the bikes out of the way for good, and have smooth sailing to the next traffic jam. For the cost of a couple of happy meals. But they prefer sharing the roadway with bikes on a crumbling bridge? None of this makes any sense to me.

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    Dude May 19, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Its funny how city hall has plenty of money for pet projects, but no money to take care of crumbling infrastructure

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    Kim May 19, 2011 at 8:26 am

    In fact, this bridge is unsafe and should be condemned.

    I’ve listened to many a presentation on this bridge that would make you shudder and quake every time you drove over it. Let’s do condemn it and shut it down, NOW. Why would we just keep driving on it when it is an accident waiting to happen? It was very disappointing that the County/City of Portland didn’t use the condemnation option in the initial stages of assessing it’s worthiness to carry traffic. Of course, we were all very concerned after Minneapolis, but it seems we’ve now forgotten that disaster.

    After the bridge closes, after 3 or 6 or 9 months, when all drivers who need to use that bridge get behind the fact that it is a useful feature in their lives, THEn it will be time to discuss what to do about it and how to fund it.

    In the meantime, we will all have survived.

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    Brad May 19, 2011 at 8:55 am

    What a wonderful opportunity for Portland’s liberal politicians to show toughness and resolve!

    Call a presser to anounce that Mult. Co. Commission has heard and respects the voters of Clackamas County. We also cannot risk the possibility of a Minneapolis type disaster and the resultant loss of life. Effective…, Multnomah County will condemn and close the Sellwood Bridge with demolition activities to commence immediately thereafter. We have no plans to replace the bridge at this time.

    This cannot be a bluff! Announce it, do it! Show that elections have consequences.

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      middle of the road guy May 19, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Except that you’d be harming your own constituents, also.

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        q`Tzal May 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm

        Ah sure, some of the businesses on Tacoma would go under due to lack of non-local traffic. Tacoma is a narrow road and has never seemed like a place I’d go to to shop; if I lived there yes.
        Eliminating the bridge would increase liability in the area due to decrease auto traffic and increase the available lots for residential as housing envelopes for commercial properties.

        It would actually be an excellent opportunity to turn Tacoma in to a carfree commerce district from 17th to the river; <20MPH freight access on the parallel roads.

        Overall it would lead to an increase in the area's tax base.

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          Brad May 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm

          Bingo!

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    Kristen May 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Better to harm them with inconvenience than harm them by dropping them into the river when the bridge collapses out from under them.

    I agree that Multnomah County needs to close the bridge, effective immediately. Until demo, leave it open to peds/bikes only; two to four weeks prior to demo, close it completely. Take it down and, eventually, rebuild in a location that doesn’t have an active landslide on one side of the river to anchor in to.

    Alternatively, start tolling immediately (with free passes for people living in Sellwood) to start raising money for the replacement bridge. Make it $1.00 per trip, each way. Hey, $1.00 is less than $5.00, what a bargain!

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    q`Tzal May 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    What could we expect the costs of an emergency rescue, recovery and environmental clean up to be if we allow the Sellwood bridge to collapse versus actively demolishing it?

    Ignoring the costs of replacing the bridge with a new one there should be some unexpectedly large costs associated with allowing any bridge to collapse under its own power.
    The first costs that come to mind are the wrongful death and injury lawsuits of all the bridge users on it at the time of failure.
    High priority clearing of the river of debris that impedes commercial river traffic will incur massive fee markups as will the costs of making the area safe post-collapse.

    Intentionally demolishing the Sellwood bridge on an approved schedule will ultimately be the cheapest option.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson May 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Based on origin & denstination studies, the bridge that is really needed crosses the Willamette between unincorporated Oak Grove and Lake Oswego. That option should be opened up again by Metro, while Multnomah county looks to convert the Sellwood to a bike/ped facility. Shoring it up to make it safe for that use would not be costly.

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    Eric in Seattle May 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    “In Clackamas County, we drive cars”
    Yes, but you won’t be able to drive them to Portland if you don’t have a bridge. Bridges aren’t free.

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    GlowBoy May 22, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Either pay for a new bridge with a toll, or SHUT ‘ER DOWN to motorized traffic NOW.

    I like the first idea because it carries the will of Clackamas voters to its logical conclusion: since they’ve seceded from the metropolitan area grid (and hey, how come my taxes pay for I-205 when I never drive it? Never got to vote on that one …) we can pay for it with a user fee. Fine with me.

    The second idea is equally good. Call Clackamas county’s bluff, and let them try to build their own bridge (as suggested above by Lenny) to lake Oswego.

    Oh, and I’ve just paid surcharges on BOTH my car registrations in the past month. I don’t want my money back; if we shut down the bridge I’d be more than happy to let help compensate the business owners on Tacoma who are going to be hurt by the closure.

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    Paul Johnson May 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Clackamas County already has toll roads. Wheatland Ferry and Canby Ferry. Both on the Willamette River, even. So it’s not like tolling a river crossing is unheard of, even in turnpike-free Oregon.

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      RonC May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      As a minor correction, it should be noted that the Wheatland Ferry is in Marion County.

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        Paul Johnson May 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm

        Aah, that’s right, though either way, it does kind of go on to support my theory that tolling a Willamette River crossing isn’t unprecedented, and isn’t unheard of in the present.

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    GlowBoy May 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Hey, good point. How ’bout a Sellwood Ferry? Or, even better, an Oak Grove-Lake Oswego Ferry?

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      Paul Johnson May 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      I do believe that the gap Sellwood covers isn’t at grade with the river, so a ferry wouldn’t work.

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        Woodstock_Cyclist May 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm

        Actually, that’s not true. A ferry used to cross at Spokane Street, just north of the bridge. The street still goes right down to the water there, and there’s an old boat ramp on the west side, too, where the boat shop used to be. Not that I think that a ferry would be possible with today’s traffic, but I do like the idea!

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