The Oregon Department of Transportation has announced that the Oregon City/West Linn Bridge will re-open to traffic on Monday, October 15th. The bridge, a key bike connection between the two cities and to points beyond, has been closed for repairs and renovations since January 2011.
ODOT announced earlier this week that the Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition will hold a three-day festival to celebrate the bridge’s re-opening. The Willamette Falls Festival will run from Friday October 12th to Sunday October 14th. The noteworthy part of the event for people who enjoy riding bicycles is that during the festival, the bridge will be closed to auto and truck traffic for the entire weekend! This is a rare chance to hang out on this historic bridge (built in 1923) and view Willamette Falls without the noise and stress of motorized traffic.
In case you’re curious, this $10 million rehab project isn’t doing anything to improve bicycle access. The current bridge is relatively narrow with one standard lane in each direction and sidewalk on both sides. ODOT says the bridge supports can’t support any widening and the fact that this is a nationally designated historic bridge makes any major changes all but impossible. Most people on bikes simply take the lane.
To accomodate bicycling and walking traffic during the bridge closure, ODOT set up a shuttle service. Since it started on January 15th, 2011, ODOT reports that the shuttle has carried 57,257 people — of which 9,300 were riding bicycles.