Last minute cost-cutting has resulted in proposed design changes to the $268 million Sellwood Bridge project that could have significant impacts on bicycling. With a key vote on the final design set for this coming Monday (7/16) and a decision on the plans set for Thursday (7/19), the Bicycle Transportation Alliance is concerned that there’s not enough time to consider the changes and they are urging the county to delay the vote.
Citing rising costs, the County has proposed $3.2 million in project cutbacks. The biggest ticket item on the chopping block is a $2 million multi-use path bridge. Another $81,000 proposed cutback will shelve plans for “surface treatments” on the bike/walk lanes.
The BTA has been tracking this project closely and has a volunteer on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Here’s more from a BTA blog post yesterday:
“The county, in an attempt to save roughly $2.5 million, is proposing to remove one of the west-side ramps. As a result, most bike/ped traffic is now on the north side of the bridge… These could be good changes, but only if they’re done right and details are addressed. Currently, Multnomah County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on this new “final plan” on Thursday of next week… The Bicycle Transportation Alliance urges its members to tell their commissioners that more time is needed to vet and improve this new design.”
At issue is a new design only made public last week that shows a shift of the biking/walking path to the north side of the bridge and the removal of a mulit-use path ramp on the east end of the bridge that could make bike access to the Springwater Corridor less than adequate.
Here’s the design that was approved after years of public process (and generally well-liked among advocates):
And here’s the new asymmetrical layout the County is putting forward now:
Here’s a look at the list of proposed cutbacks:
The elimination of “bike/ped surface treatments” means that the bike lane will no longer be colored green and there will not be “subtle concrete color changes on the multi-use path” that were intended to “improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians by making sure faster travelers are separated from slower travelers.” Below is a look at the surface treatments as they existed in the design that was agreed to after the lengthy public process (note the green bike lane and MUP textures):
The BTA says more time is needed to vet these changes and they’re urging people to contact Multnomah County Commissioners. On Monday, a group of elected leaders from throughout the region (including Oregon State legislators, Mayor Adams, and others) will vote on whether or not to recommend the new design.