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Time to weigh in on future carfree bridge between Oak Grove and Lake Oswego

Posted by on August 2nd, 2019 at 8:10 am

Looking north from Foothills Park in Lake Oswego at the potential future site of a new bridge. (Existing railroad bridge in in the background).
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Clackamas County wants to know if they should move forward with a new, carfree bridge over the Willamette River that would connect Oak Grove/Milwaukie to Lake Oswego. Known as “OGLO,” the project has been on the radar since 2009 when a Metro study found strong public support for the idea.

Clackamas County has opened an online open house and will host two open houses next week to garner feedback as part of a Metro-funded feasibility study.

Possible alignment locations.

While the County knows people want a new connection over the river, questions loom over how and where to do it . Challenges include: a lack of publicly-owned property on both sides of the river; questions over who would fund, own, and maintain the facility; how to connect a bridge to existing paths, and so on.

A railroad bridge exists just north of the study area; but it’s not an option because it would be difficult to access with biking and walking paths and its owners say they don’t want the added liability of public use. That leaves a nine-mile stretch of the Willamette River — from Sellwood to Oregon City — without a way for bicycle users to cross. The OGLO Bridge has the potential to dramatically improve our regional bicycling network by making a direct connection to the existing Tryon Creek and Trolley Trail paths.

Clackamas County has come up with 10 alignment options for a potential new bridge (see them all below). The online survey gives future bridge users basic details about each option and asks whether or not it’s worth pursuing further.

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The only decisions that have been made so far is that the new bridge would be for walkers and rollers only. Transit vehicle use has been ruled out due to cost concerns and emergency vehicle access is still a possibility.

Here are the 10 alignment options under consideration (click to enlarge):

According to Clackamas County, feedback from the online survey and upcoming open houses will be taken to the project’s policy committee later this month where they’ll narrow down the alignment options and “dig deeper into the feasibility of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the Willamette River.” This feasibility study process will be completed by the end of this year. If it’s a “go”, the next steps would include design, permitting, and more public outreach.

The online open house is open through August 9th. Open houses are set for Monday August 5th, 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Lake Oswego Maintenance Center and Wednesday August 7th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Oak Grove Performing Arts Center. Learn more at the official project website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

36 Comments
  • Avatar
    Tom Howe August 2, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Here’s a group ride from Portland down to the open house in Oak Grove. The ride will also go by some of the possible landing locations on the Oak Grove side of the river.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/2490472264351568/

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    X August 2, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Reasons to build a bridge engineered for emergency vehicle access:
    –sooner or later somebody will have a medical emergency on or near the bridge
    — SOL, somebody is going to drive their personal motor vehicle on it
    –SOL, a bunch of other bridges will fall in the river

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    Ed August 2, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Super excited to see a new bridge here. Curious why they aren’t looking to make it so that buses could use it since they are keeping open the option for use by emergency response vehicles. It could be a triple win for emergency response, transit, and bike/ped.

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      Matt August 2, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      That would require separated bus and bike/ped lanes so double the size of the superstructure plus wider approach roads built to street standards acquired from some of the most expensive real estate in the City. Overall project costs would quadruple and LO residents would shoot it down like they did the proposed trolley trail tram line conversion 10 years ago. Spend the money on transit where it’s really needed like outer southeast and northeast.

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      was carless August 7, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      Because buses weigh a lot more than people and you would then need to engineer a structure to hold many times more weight than a pedestrian bridge? That means a lot more money.

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    GlennF August 2, 2019 at 11:02 am

    how about they get rid of that Lake O Trolly and make that a multi-use path…

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      JJ August 4, 2019 at 5:46 am

      Yes! OR just continue to ride it as is now.

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    David Hampsten August 2, 2019 at 11:47 am

    How about a river tunnel? There’s one on Highway 99 under the Frasure River at Delta, near Vancouver BC, and many cities in Europe have bicycle/ped-only tunnels under major rivers such as in Amsterdam.

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      Chris I August 2, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      You should look at a topo map of the area. The east side is very steep. A river tunnel is not a good solution here. Most of the alternatives have 0 or even negative elevation change on the east end. If done correctly, this bridge would require a bit of climbing on the west end, and a basically flat exit on the east end.

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      Zak August 2, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      The Hwy 99 tunnel under the Fraser River in Vancouver, BC, expressly bars pedestrians and cyclists, instead running a free shuttle at intervals.

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      GNnorth August 2, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      The Massey Tunnel is itself been in a prolonged fight to stay open, the former Liberal govt (that basically means conservative up here) wanted to put in a huge bridge as a replacement, ten lanes wide. I’d love to see the tunnel converted to a bike path but it will never happen. As it stands the only way through the tunnel by bike is via shuttle, no riding allowed.

      Go for the bridge, cheaper and better views of the river. I think the continual references to how some things are done up here in BC being used as role models are frighteningly off-the-mark.

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        Chris I August 2, 2019 at 2:10 pm

        That Skytrain system is pretty neat, but you guys need to help us out with Amtrak Cascades service. The route north of the border is unbearably slow.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty August 2, 2019 at 3:25 pm

        Things always look better from a distance.

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          Middle of The Road Guy August 5, 2019 at 8:09 am

          That’s what my girlfriend constantly reminds me of.

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      El Biciclero August 5, 2019 at 9:19 am

      I don’t know how it is in other countries, but pedestrian tunnels in most of the U.S. would seem to come with some safety concerns. They are ready-made hideouts for Street Toughs, Ne’er-Do-Wells, and any others with nefarious aims.

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    David Hampsten August 2, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Who’s offering to pay for it and how much is realistically available?

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      Toby Keith August 2, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Since Multnomah County got soaked for the Sellwood, the fine folks of Clackamas County should be happy to get this round.

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      • Avatar
        David Hampsten August 2, 2019 at 9:35 pm

        The folks of Clackamas have a well-earned reputation of being auto-oriented. Why would they volunteer to pay for a new bridge that doesn’t allow cars?

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          X August 3, 2019 at 8:50 pm

          (if enlightened self interest were a thing) they would pay for it because it’s cheaper to build bike infrastructure than mv infrastructure and every bike is one. . .car off the road. One fewer car entering the freeway in front of you. One fewer car backing into the parking space you were gunning for. One fewer car stopping pulling into the intersection from the cross street, getting caught by the light and blocking your lane.

          It’s always other cars that do stupid stuff like that. People on bikes hardly ever do those things.

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    Champs August 2, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Suburbs frequently complain that regional transit doesn’t serve their local interests, yet pass on good opportunities to support the agency. It’s almost like they’re arguing in bad faith.

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      Chris I August 2, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      I’m sure LO will push for a MAX spur from Milwaukie to downtown LO via a new Transit/Ped bridge.

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        Andrew August 2, 2019 at 2:39 pm

        Didn’t LO shoot down the idea of using the Willamette Shore Trolley alignment for transit a few years back? That may have just been the the people right along the alignment that made a stink.

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    X August 2, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Another transit bridge that bike riders approach through a bunch of swing gates and bespoke traffic lights? Meh.

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      August 2, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    In my opinion any bridge which does not allow emergency vehicles to cross is immediately a non-option. Eventually, Portland will experience a large earthquake that will collapse many of the old bridges (e.g. Burnside), leaving newer bridges like this one the only way to transport vital supplies and services across the river.

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      Damien E August 3, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      I would suspect that devastation large enough to collapse the other bridges isn’t going to leave much of a usable road network elsewhere behind.

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    Nick August 2, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks for the online open house link! Feedback submitted.

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    GlennF August 2, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Would rather see a bridge from Meldrum Bar Park to Mary S Young.

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    GlennF August 2, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    or from Meldrum Bar Park to Burnside Park

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    B. Carfree August 2, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    I’m curious about the mention that the possible site to the north is out because the property owners don’t want the added liability of public use. I thought Oregon indemnified property owners when they allowed their property to be used for recreation. I was told that is why so many lumber companies allow the public to use their logging roads. I hope there is a legal beagle on here to set me straight.

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    Jamie August 3, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    The residents of Lake Oswego don’t go to Oak Grove and don’t want the ***deleted by moderator*** in their city. This project is completely one sided and an epic fail.

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    Jim Lee August 3, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    pixie
    An interesting statute with fascinating cases interpreting ithttps://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/105.682https://law.justia.com/cases/oregon/supreme-court/2010/s058035.htmlhttps://law.justia.com/cases/oregon/court-of-appeals/2018/a159931.htmlhttps://law.justia.com/cases/oregon/court-of-appeals/2018/a159190.htmlThere are more cases and discussions out there for anyone interested in a deeper diveRecommended 0

    Interesting cases!

    Motorcyclists and cliff divers!

    Jonathan should pay attention to ORS 105.602 when gravelling!

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    Kittens August 4, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I think this is a fantastic idea but with the outrageous cost of infrastructure these days, there is no way they will get this project past the dreaming stage 🙁

    Knowing how these things tend to go, it can’t just be a bridge for bikes and peds, it will need to support the weight of a 30-ton fire truck be 40′ wide in case the firetrucks need to pass each other… you know, for safety.

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    Carrie August 5, 2019 at 9:00 am


    In my opinion any bridge which does not allow emergency vehicles to cross is immediately a non-option. Eventually, Portland will experience a large earthquake that will collapse many of the old bridges (e.g. Burnside), leaving newer bridges like this one the only way to transport vital supplies and services across the river.

    You are assuming that a) bicycles are not emergency vehicles and b) the rest of the infrastructure will be in place to enable a motor vehicle to move around the area unimpeded

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 5, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Most emergency vehicles are not bicycles, and it is far more likely that roads will survive an earthquake than a substandard bridge.

      I think those two assumptions are reasonable.

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    Katie Urey August 5, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Before taking online survey, bookmark this posting. The graphics in the online survey are confusing.

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