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Clackamas commissioners throw cold water on carfree Oak Grove-Lake Oswego bridge

Posted by on October 18th, 2019 at 10:41 am

It would go somewhere around here. This is the view north from Foothills Park in Lake Oswego.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners didn’t strike a fatal blow to the carfree Oak Grove-Lake Oswego (OGLO) Bridge Project at their meeting Tuesday, but they definitely wounded it. Asked to make a decision about whether the project was feasible enough to move forward and receive further planning funds, they voiced skepticism, asked for more community outreach, and expressed fears that it might take away funding for “capacity” projects.

It was a surprising discussion, given how relatively non-controversial the project had been for so many years.

“I’m not interested in wasting a bunch of political capital trying to move a bicycle bridge up [in funding priority] when our transportation needs are more capacity on our roads.”
— Ken Humberston, Commissioner

The OGLO project – envisioned as a carfree bridge over the Willamette that would close a 10-mile gap between river crossings — has enjoyed strong support for years from the public, government agencies, and elected officials throughout the region. Leaders have worked to study and plan the project for over 10 years and Clackamas County has led a public outreach and project development process for the past year-and-a-half. The project is highly ranked in the County’s Transportation System Plan and is seen as a key link between growing cities (and transit and biking networks) on both sides of the river.

A county survey of over 600 people revealed that the project has 63% support (71% approval in Oak Grove and 55% approval in Lake Oswego) and just 28% opposition. The potential bridge alignment has been narrowed to three options — all of which include landings entirely on publicly-owned right-of-way. Metro has already said they’ll give Clackamas County $500,000 to conduct more detailed engineering, develop cost estimates, and so on.

However, despite all this momentum, voices of some people uncomfortable with the idea of a new bridge have emerged in the past few months. This, combined with regional politics and a late request from Metro Council President Lynn Peterson to consider adding a transit lane to the bridge, have abruptly changed the tone.

Transit is kryptonite in Clackamas County

“I will tell you now I will not support transit. I was told this would only be for bike/ped, so that’s a deal-breaker for me right out of the chute.”
— Martha Schrader, Commissioner

At the county commissioner’s meeting it was clear the mere mention of transit has set the project back.

Commissioner Paul Savas, an ardent supporter of the project who said in February 2018 that, “I can’t think of a project that serves more people potentially,” has now changed his tune. “The whole surprise twist on the transit thing is something I didn’t receive very well and it wasn’t received by well by others,” he said. “Transit just increased the angst about this tremendously.”

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Clackamas County has a long history of discomfort around Metro’s meddling, not to mention a deep dislike of transit.

Paul Savas

Savas is also uncomfortable with the estimated cost of the project, which County staff says could vary between $30 million and $52 million depending on the alignment and other factors (a transit lane would increase project cost by 50%). “At $10 million, that was feasible and in reach… but the price tag is going up to the point where it’s far greater than I ever anticipated.” Savas has also heard increasing opposition to this project in his conversations with residents at community events, prompting him to think perhaps a bridge isn’t the best option.

Because some senior citizens might have trouble walking up and over a bridge, Savas said, “Maybe we can look at a ferry across the river, connected to a shuttle service, because it’s not practical to walk from either of these landings to either the light rail station or the highway.”

“As of today, I have issues with where we are with this,” he continued. “When you read a lot of the input from this I’m reluctant to move on as it sits… I think we need to look at the scope a little differently, or cut bait.”

Statements like that flummoxed county staff, who had to repeatedly explain basic process details to the commissioners. “Re-scoping isn’t in the scope,” said Clackamas County Assistant Director for Transportation Mike Bezner.

Then there’s Commissioner Ken Humberston. He too voiced support early on when it was, “Just a bike/ped bridge with minor impact on neighborhoods.” But he feels differently now. “Whoever put transit on the table, threw some serious sand in the gears for any constructive discussion.” Humberston, who called the idea of transit on the bridge a “non-starter”.

The specter of transit on the bridge also scares Commissioner Martha Schrader. She supports a bike/walk only bridge, but said, “I will tell you now I will not support transit. I was told this would only be for bike/ped, so that’s a deal-breaker for me right out of the chute.”

Funding anxiety (don’t take away our road money!)

“If I have to choose between only a bicycle bridge versus increased capacity, I’m going to choose the increased capacity.”
— Ken Humberston

Some of the anxiety expressed by these commissioners is because of the jostling going on around the upcoming Metro transportation funding measure known as “T2020”. That process will identify a list of “Tier 1” projects that will be the first to be funded with new revenue (if/when the measure passes). Currently, OGLO is on Tier 2 and it’s boosters are fighting to get it onto the top tier (Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba told us last year: “I will be fighting to get this project listed on the transportation bond measure in 2020 which is the only way it’s likely to be funded”). Skeptics like Humberston and County Chair Jim Bernards (below), worry that if OGLO gets onto Tier 1 it will push other projects off the table.

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Ken Humberston

Commissioner Humberston made it clear he doesn’t want this bridge getting in the way of the county’s T2020 lobbying efforts:

“More importantly, T2020 is coming down the pike and the purpose of that is major transportation funding. And our major transportation funding issue is the Sunrise Corridor [an ODOT highway expansion project]… I’m not interested in wasting a bunch of political capital trying to move a bicycle bridge up [in funding priority] when our transportation needs are more capacity on our roads. If I have to choose between only a bicycle bridge versus increased capacity, I’m going to choose the increased capacity because there are a heck of a lot more people driving individual automobiles than there are riding bicycles. When we do a project that increases capacity, if we can improve bicycle lanes, I’m all for it. But I think this project muddies the water for political support that all three counties are going to need for the major transportation projects we’re going to have in the region… As important as riding bicycles is, it is of secondary importance to expansion of our road system.”

Commissioner Bernards also said he’d rather focus on driving-centric projects. “Our key priorities have always been the Sunrise [Corridor], a parking garage at Park Ave and repairs on Highway 43,” he said. “I think it does compete with Sunrise if it’s moved to Tier 1 because there’s only so much money.” Bernards also admitted his tepid support of OGLO is a political, horse-trading move to assure votes for highway projects. “I don’t want to kill it yet, it could be a bargaining chip for the Sunrise money or the parking structure or Highway 43 work. So let’s leave it on the table so do some more community outreach.”

Requests for “more community outreach” is a well-known stalling tactic that is often used to cover up an elected’s true objections, which might be publicly unpopular or politically fraught. In this case, a majority of the County Commission is worried that building the OGLO bridge would take away from their top concern: more and wider roads for driving.

Bernards clarified this when he added, “What we hear from the other side is ‘no more roads’ and Clackamas County isn’t Multnomah County, it isn’t Washington County. We still need roads. We need to reduce congestion and I’d rather spend that money to do that.”

And here’s Commission Savas expressing his priorities:

“At what point does it not become feasible in terms of dollar amount? At what point is it disproportionate to the amount of money we ought to be investing on roads. There’s scarce dollars out there. We don’t have money to throw around. At some point, we have to say by the number of people who’ll use this bridge it’s no longer feasible and how much money are you going to throw at it? If it’s too expensive, it’s too expensive.”

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(Savas is fine with spending “scarce dollars” to develop projects, as long as they widen highways. In 2016 during a Metro funding process he tried to cut active transportation and boost highway projects. His idea was quickly denounced by other leaders.)

Politics of public feedback

(Source: Clackamas County)

Like I mentioned above, Clackamas County received clear support from the public for this project. But for some reason, commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting repeatedly said the project was unpopular.

“I ran for this office to build bridges not walls, this bridge is a wall. It’s divided the community,” said Commissioner Bernards.

Commissioner Savas claims that support for the bridge is only strong with people who live far away, and that locals don’t like it. He claimed 65% of the people he talked to at a recent community event were against it. If planning moves forward, Savas claimed, “We’d be spending money on designs that aren’t popular and aren’t supported by the community.”

“This has bubbled up as more controversial than I ever thought it would be,” said Commissioner Schrader.

For them and Commissioner Humberston, the answer is to re-open the public process and do even more public engagement. Savas suggested a town hall meeting. Humbertson opined that perhaps a public vote is needed.

These claims and concerns fly in the face of reality. “I don’t think we’ve had a project ever when we’ve had 600 individuals give us comments,” Bezner replied to requests to do more engagement, “the work to date has got a lot of public feedback on it.”

At one point, County Transportation Director Dan Johnson stepped in to add (with frustration in his voice): “Respectfully commissioners, this has been on your transportation plan for six years, there’s been an active public involvement campaign for a year-and-a-half, you’ve heard from a lot of people. My suggestion is get to a decision point here.”

According to County Transportation Planner Stephen Williams, whom I asked to explain the disconnect between Commissioner statements and survey results, “Information from our public input process and from the survey does show a clear majority of support. I can’t answer why the Commissioners stated that the project doesn’t have public support.” Unfortunately, Williams also added that commissioners hadn’t been given the survey prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

“Elephants in the room”

Martha Schrader

The lack of support for this project expressed by the commissioners was surprising to me. Then Commissioner Schrader shared her version of events that helps explain some of the deeper issues that might be driving the ambivalence (such as a fear of who might use the bridge):

“We assumed everything going along nicely. Then suddenly people realize where the landings will be and there heads are like “Whoa?” because of fear of what it’s going to do to neighborhoods and livability. We have wonderful walking corridors that are experiencing a lot of hard use. I mean, look at Springwater; it’s been very, very difficult. When we initially start this it seems like a good idea at the time. People go, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to have this great little bridge you can stroll over and go to the wine shops and go shopping and have people connect?’ Then when the reality hits of where it’s going to land and what other things are driving peoples’ angst, you know, those are the underlying assumptions. We’re dealing with so much houselessness right now. Instead of people seeing it [the bridge] quite frankly, as being this nice amenity, they’re worried. Whether that’s real or not, I can’t say, but I think those are kind of the elephants in the room we’re dealing with when we talk about these kind of transportation changes for people.”

What happens next

So what exactly did the Commission decide Tuesday? They told staff to move just one alignment instead of three into more detailed planning (because they felt it would be cheaper) and they said they absolutely do not support transit on the bridge.

From here the project will go in front of the Policy Committee where they’ll vote up or down on the feasibility question. The process will wrap up next month when the public gets its last chance to share input. If the project survives and the various government agencies vote to move it forward, it will get more environmental assessment and engineering that will take up to 18 months to complete.

Learn more at the project website.

(CORRECTION: This story originally said Commissioner Savas suggested a vote on the project. That was wrong. It was Commissioner Humbertson who made that remark. I regret the error.)

— 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

61 Comments
  • Avatar
    m October 18, 2019 at 11:33 am

    “This, combined with regional politics and a late request from Metro Council President Lynn Peterson to consider adding a transit lane to the bridge, have abruptly changed the tone.”

    Adding a transit lane is a pretty big change for a “late request”. I don’t have a dog in the fight but kinda smells like a bait and switch when citing lots of earlier polling numbers in support of a bike/ped bridge.

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    SD October 18, 2019 at 11:42 am

    The anti-transit position from the burbs is disturbing and reprehensible in so many ways.

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      Middle of the Road Guy October 18, 2019 at 2:03 pm

      Changing a major requirement like that tends to result in resistance.

      Imagine a CRC that proposed transit lanes and then those got pulled late in the process.

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    Champs October 18, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Another attack of the Radical Moderates “representing ALL their constituents” to the exclusion of the people who actually voted for them. They are Very Serious People, after all.

    I recognize the political divisions of Portland-area counties but at some point these commissioners need to realize that Cartman-Americans are a vocal minority even in Clackamas County.

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    Jason H October 18, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Metro should have been able to read the tea leaves though and known the predilection against transit on the Clack Co BoC. Feel they sold us out adding transit late in the planning and vastly overplayed their hand. Even if now off the table it’ll be the albatross they hang on the projects neck from now on as obvious from the kind of culture-war comments various commissioners made between the eastside and the rest of the metro area. Also, guess I shouldn’t have mentioned I was a WaCo resident in my support letter, feel somewhat attacked by “support for the bridge is only strong with people who live far away” from Commissioner Savas.

    Like m, I also don’t really have a dog in the fight. Plenty of wonderful routes I can spend my cycle-tourism dollars on here on the westside. As I alluded to in my letter, this bridge would make visiting Clackamas County much easier for me, but if getting there by bike isn’t welcome I’ll keep my money where it is.

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    maccoinnich October 18, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Sad, but not surprising, from Clackamas County. In a recent letter to Metro (https://www.oregonmetro.gov/sites/default/files/metro-events/Task%20Force%20meeting%20packet%2010.16.pdf) the county claimed that the Sunrise Gateway/212 Corridor, a new freeway between SE 122nd and 172nd, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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    Johnny Bye Carter October 18, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    It’s clear the old white people are still in charge of making things easier for themselves.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 18, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      It would be great if they stopped electing themselves. The problem with county elections is we can’t blame the electoral college.

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    • Avatar
      Middle of the Road Guy October 18, 2019 at 2:05 pm

      20 years from now after all the old white people have died out, we’ll still be blaming old white people. it’s just so danged convenient!

      Recommended Thumb up 8

      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 18, 2019 at 3:56 pm

        The problem is that every year we get more of these old people. Where do they keep coming from?!?

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        • Avatar
          truthseeker October 22, 2019 at 11:05 pm

          I’m an old person, and I came from inner southeast back in 1992. And todays young douchebags will be tomorrow’s old butt cracks.

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    • Avatar
      Toby Keith October 20, 2019 at 7:29 am

      And it’s also clear ageism and racism are alive and well on BikePortland.

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        9watts October 20, 2019 at 8:33 am

        That is not how power works, my friend. Nor does the term racism the way you use it make any sense, it isn’t symmetrical like that. Old white people are in charge, still, and some go to enormous (and at times racist) lengths to keep it that way.
        To point this out, to identify the racial disparities in power is not ipso facto racist as your comment suggests you think it is. Racism is about power as much as it is about skin color.

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        • Avatar
          Toby Keith October 20, 2019 at 9:16 am

          Twist it anyway you like.

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          • Avatar
            soren October 20, 2019 at 12:50 pm

            Twisting morality and fairness is what white supremacy has been doing for hundreds of years.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 20, 2019 at 1:46 pm

              That doesn’t make it right.

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              • Avatar
                Toby Keith October 20, 2019 at 2:01 pm

                Love how these guys are turning this into a white supremacy issue.

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              • Avatar
                Middle of the Road Guy October 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm

                That’s the beauty of the intersectionality approach.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 20, 2019 at 10:47 am

          >>> Nor does the term racism the way you use it make any sense <<<

          The great thing about unilaterally redefining all your terms is that you get to have endless pointless debates that hinge on the basic meaning of words. "Racism" has a meaning, and asserting it really means something else is not particularly helpful. Arguing about it let's you feel that you are doing something useful, but really all you're doing is wasting time.

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          • Avatar
            9watts October 20, 2019 at 11:40 am

            “‘Racism’ has a meaning”

            Exactly.
            And meanings can change, and discussing/arguing about these meanings can be very productive. In fact isn’t that how we learn things? At least that is how I learn things. Wspob had a peculiar way of conversing, of being contrarian,mand exasperating, but he was fantastically good at prompting all sorts of opportunities for learning, for reexamining preconceptions.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 20, 2019 at 12:03 pm

              Sure, meanings change. But words only work when there is consensus on what they mean. That requires a critical mass to adopt to new definitions. That has not yet happened with words like “racism”. Does chastising someone for using the consensus definition somehow help the cause?

              In the meantime, there are plenty of good, precise, undisputed terms you can use to make your point when talking to the less woke to avoid arguing about definitions.

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    • Avatar
      Jim Labbe October 23, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      Part of the problem of representation is that what would be a regionally funded project will really serve urban Clackamas County but Clackamas County Commissioners are elected county wide taking in other cities and rural areas. So from another perspective it’s Clackamas County Commissioners who are “meddling” in affairs over which they have limited jurisdiction. This project is as much the domain of Metro and its partner cities and urban service areas.

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  • Avatar
    Tad Reeves October 18, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    I presently live in Oak Grove right on the Trolley Trail, but moved here from LO. My kids go to school & daycare in LO/West Linn, and I’m constantly faced with the fact that getting to LO would be a 1.5 mile bike ride with a bridge, and is 11.9 miles without one.

    The active transportation benefits are obvious, but it’s been really disheartening how a few people with houses that overlook the river have been vehement in their opposition, mostly because they don’t want the city to encroach upon them. These same people are taking out paid Facebook ads, plastering signage all up & down the Trolley Trail in front of my house, saying it’s a “BRIDGE TO NOWHERE”, but when directly confronted will admit they don’t ride and just heard people say that LO has no trails and is so dangerous to bike in.

    This area is such a fabulous place to bike, and with a bridge could offer SW folks access to the Orange Line Max if they don’t feel like biking into town all the way. It’s a huge part of the vision for what we /should/ be striving toward in terms of a city that really makes it easy to go car-free, and I wish more folks could be more big-picture solution-oriented instead of only loudly voicing opposition to projects as constructive as this.

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    • Avatar
      Joe Public October 18, 2019 at 2:42 pm

      Fear not…there will be NO IMPACT we are told. Homes on the Courtney end have already been picked and deemed as “underutilized”. You know what this means?…FAMILIES FORCED FROM THEIR HOMES….demolition and finally parking lots. Naturally, these homeowners will be paid well below market value for their homes. (research imminent domain land seizures).
      Why? Because you have to have parking to utilize a destination. Naturally, the street will need to be widened to accommodate more vehicles, bike lanes and added sidewalks. What this means for you……your yard will be seized as desired, at will (nothing you can do) and you will receive an added sidewalk tax…and likely a new assessed property value with even more taxes added.

      On the river end …..imagine a freeway overpass being built over your home. No impact? It’s only blotting out the sky ?… sure seems like a major IMPACT to me. Let alone enduring the noise of construction.

      I’m an avid bicyclist and a bicycle commuter for 10 years. I’m urging you to consider families and neighborhoods instead of your own “comforts”.

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      • Avatar
        Eric H October 18, 2019 at 4:30 pm

        Lol! At least you saved the “avid bicyclist” until the end so we had to read your post.

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      • Avatar
        DSKJ October 18, 2019 at 7:01 pm

        It’s “eminent domain, ” not imminent.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 18, 2019 at 9:42 pm

          Unless it’s about to happen.

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            GlowBoy October 22, 2019 at 4:29 pm

            It does not currently appear to be imminent.

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    • Avatar
      Marry Kelly October 18, 2019 at 4:03 pm

      Aren’t our schools good enough for your children?
      As someone in the local education system I feel a bit hurt.

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  • Avatar
    Todd Boulanger October 18, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Wow this will be an interesting project to view in hindsight 20 years from now. (When many of those complaining about “transit” are waiting for their paratransit bus or could not age in place and had to move into “the city”.) I guess they would rather see 150 empty cars pass their house versus 2 buses an hour?!

    I do not feel as special anymore…I just assumed “transit on bridges” as a “third rail” issue was just a Clark County “problem” or “town hall virus”. 😉

    Recommended Thumb up 12

  • Avatar
    Andrew Kreps October 18, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Wow. Thank you for the details and the write-up Jonathan. I’ve taken the online surveys on this project and I know how much work was put into it already. I do hope they find a way forward.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Avatar
    rick October 18, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Lack of leadership in Clackamas County.

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    Mark Smith October 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    White people and their angst. So concerned with their senior citizens and their “where the landings will be”. Fine. Scew them. Let them wallow in non stop.traffic, no ped bridge for decades. Send the money somewhere else or let them live their car first ways. Move in. Stop fighting with trumpets.

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    • Avatar
      Marry Kelly October 18, 2019 at 3:59 pm

      I’m not white and I don’t want it, (see my post about ecological impact on sturgeon) although I’d like the bridge as close as possible to me I don’t think you’ve ever been here.
      We get maybe 10-20 cars an hour in the proposed location.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 18, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      Seriously! Why do white people hate bridges? White people killed the CRC! And against the western bypass because… you got it! More bridges! I swear, if white people had their way, we’d be taking ferries everywhere.

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    Unincorporated Voter October 18, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    It’s election season. Many of the ruling BCC is in current and continual election-mode, where their quests are to pander to all, whilst not appearing to be for or against anything. After all, they likely have slightly higher approval ratings than their predecessors. Thus, they assume they have a right to keep their jobs on the basis of it was and could be worse.
    Most of those folks were once change-candidates that now appear as a collective group, of, we couldn’t possibly lead and advocate for more than one thing at a time. Yes houselessness needs to be addressed. Yes overcrowded roads needs to be addressed. Yes, the unincorporated area and the larger rural county continue to see many issues go under-addressed. Yes, money should be coveted and spent wisely. How does advocating for additional planning review of a potential bridge (a top ask per a coveted regional Metro survey) put one at odds with simultaneously advocating for houselessness?
    Yes, money is limited, but it’s reasonable to seek additional clarity from the Planning Commission before verbally committing to or writing off a spendy but highly requested long term regional project. Though most funding comes from the local taxpayers, formal funding for housing and transportation are typically derived from separate pools of money.
    At this stage, I believe it shameful to pit one issue against another under the guise of the greater good. Let the commision do what they do best and allow the commission to put more clear and precise estimates on the table, at which point funding concerns become more realistic. As far as I read, the BCC has already written this project off before reading a word from the Planning Commission report, as well as actually considering and seeking Metro, Federal or other potential funding streams. Why sign off on funding Planning Commission work when they already have such strong opinions?
    Also, if it’s reasonable to consider tolling cars (taxpayers) to fund a bridge, why is it out of the question to think outside of the box and consider tolling or other sources to fund new pedestrian and bike bridges?
    Lastly, how is it right that a member of the Clackamas BCC sits on the OGLO committee but also gets to vote on the approval of the Clackamas Planning Commission OGLO feasibility study and thus outcome? Some of the usual culprits appear to want to have their cake and eat it too.
    Clackamas County is in need of commissioners that are not afraid to lead during inclement weather.

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  • Avatar
    Jr October 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    My problem with the bridge is:
    If approved it will disproportionably benefit white residents of the metro district,
    When there are many more racially diverse areas that could benefit from these funds.

    The demographics of oakgrove is 91.9% white, 1.8% African American https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/oakgrovecdporegon/PST045218

    The demographics of lake Oswego is 87.2% white 0.6% African American
    https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/lakeoswegocityoregon/PST045218

    I’m disgusted this is even being considered.
    And I’m even more upset that no people of color are participating in the vote.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    Fred October 18, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    Two questions:
    1) Why does Metro seem to screw up almost everything it touches? (remember the I-5 widening that Lynn Peterson decided is a great idea).
    2) Are there any commissioners with a brain larger than a peanut?

    Martha Schrader’s comment about the “nice bridge” and “the wine shops” has to be about the most inane thing I’ve ever heard an elected official say: “Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to have this great little bridge you can stroll over and go to the wine shops and go shopping and have people connect?” It that the only thing that would get her out of her car?

    Clearly the commissioners from Clackamas are failing the many people in this community who are serious about human-powered transportation. Keep widening your freeways and we’ll see how that ends.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Avatar
    Joseph Edge October 18, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you for keeping on top of this Jonathan.

    The popularity of this project in my community (Oak Grove) is undeniable, and the data shows it. There’s only a half-dozen houses in the immediate vicinity of the proposed east-side landing, and none of them face the public road where the bridge would be confined. The opponents have been disproportionately loud and haven’t been shy about broadcasting disinformation, which has apparently polluted the opinion of county leadership.

    The proposed alignment is in one of the same locations studied for a new motor vehicle bridge in the late 1990s. The community has been pressing hard for a bike/ped bridge ever since. Also, it’s critical that the bridge landing be located at Fairoaks Ave & Courtney Ave to meet ADA standards for grade to access the approaches, all of other approaches that were studied are too steep to accommodate wheelchairs.

    We really need the support of regional advocates at this point, because they’re getting more traction than the 71% of Oak Grove residents who support the bridge but don’t have the attention of the County Commission.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

    • Avatar
      Casey October 18, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Joseph – Yes, to be successful, OGLO needs the support of regional advocates. That should go without saying.
      Separately, there are too many fair-weather friends on the Clackamas BCC as well as within local community advocate groups. Oak Grove residents need to admit facts about the BCC and find confidence in becoming consistently more vocal in order to hold the BCC, OGCC, and others accountable in representing the unincorporated urban communities. As long as the community allows the BCC to get away with their consistent passive-aggressive approach, the more the needs of the Oak Grove community will continue to not be considered.
      There are systemic issues between the unincorporated areas and the BCC, and the issues should be addressed as such. These issues go far beyond OGLO, and a need for project-specific regional advocates.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

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      Lura Lee October 18, 2019 at 9:31 pm

      Joseph. I find your response irresponsible. I live in the neighborhood and do not understand where you are getting any of your information. The landing of the bridge affects more than the few homes you describe and is a dangerous corner even before the introduction of a bridge-let alone potentially adding bus traffic. Perhaps it looks good on paper, but come out and actually look at the neighborhood and the potential affects. I also welcome a stand alone ballot. I am proud of our commissioners actually listening to the people who would be affected by this bridge.
      Though your livelihood depends on developing new projects funded by tax dollars. Please take a step back.

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        Chris I October 20, 2019 at 6:36 pm

        If the road is dangerous, it should be closed.

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    Marry Kelly October 18, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    The proposed site of the bridge is a protected sturgeon spawning sanctuary.
    Sturgeon fishing is prohibited for several months of the year.
    Construction of this bridge could harm this fragile area.

    I love the idea of the bridge just not in OG-LOW for ecological reasons.
    Jut put it a bit more north and I’m all for it!

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    Lisa Nowak October 18, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    So many people are basing their arguments on the idea that 63% of people in the affected neighborhoods support the bridge, but this is erroneous data. The poll results state that “Residents on both sides of the river strongly support having Clackamas County continue to EXPLORE THE VIABILITY of the pedestrian-bike bridge with a total of 63% in favor of the idea and 9% unsure. A total of 28% oppose the idea.” Then they take those numbers and put them on a bar graph that says 63% of people in the neighborhood SUPPORT A BRIDGE. There’s a difference between supporting further study and supporting the bridge itself. Especially when the question specifically stated that this project would not make property taxes go up.

    The problem with this whole bridge feasibility study is that its leaders have been practicing deception and restricting public engagement in the affected neighborhoods from the start. The commissioners saw through this and said so. What they’re asking for is to have that community involvement now in the form of town halls and a public vote. If, indeed, 63% of the public support this bridge, then the bicycling community has nothing to fear. But Mayor Gamba obviously doesn’t believe these numbers or he wouldn’t be pushing to tie this project to the T2020 bond.

    I’m seeing plenty of misleading arguments here from people I’ve encountered in other forums or know from the community. I’m not going to bother correcting this misinformation because it would take all day and ultimately go nowhere. I will say this though–if anyone is confused as to why this project went from having so much support to having so much opposition, they might want to look at how the public outreach has been handled–or should I say mishandled. When you have the project manager telling people they can move if they don’t like the bridge and refusing to consider data on current park usage, the problem isn’t with the “handful of homeowners” who are fighting the project.

    All I’ve wanted from the start was a straight-up, stand-alone ballot measure for Clackamas County voters on this project , and it seems the commissioners agree that this is warranted. That should sort out the community support issue once and for all.

    For anyone who wants to see those “scientific study” questions and results, you can find them here: https://dochub.clackamas.us/documents/drupal/b2fa43df-2aff-4232-bdae-dc0c12c371ef

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    Toby Keith October 18, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    I’d be worried about the homeless using the bridge and bringing crime and drugs across.

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      Fred October 19, 2019 at 6:48 am

      Bingo! – you’ve used the three key words (homeless, drugs, and crime) in one sentence. They are used to kill every project you don’t like, no matter the benefits to the greater good. Vancouver is definitely better off – all of those commuters sitting in traffic – since they killed the MAX bridge that would have brought H, D, and C into the community.

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        Middle of the Road Guy October 20, 2019 at 2:22 pm

        Here are three other words : Old, White, Men.

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    Luke October 18, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    It is about time someone with pull speaks up for the majority (people who, you know, drive) in this state as opposed to the minority. Fact is, as unpopular of an opinion this is, the Portland metro is expanding faster than anticipated. Roadways require expansion to keep up with that growth. ( i.e 217 expansion project, fantastic) People who have never rode a bike or used Tri-Met are not going to suddenly start. It is ignorant to think that is the case and the lawmakers need to understand this. I’ve had to drive from the Oak Grove area to Foothills more times then I’d like to count. A simple two lane bridge with pedestrian access eases some of that commuting congestion on 99E and 43N.

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    Roberta Robles October 18, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Wow! Great job Lynne P. Metro president. That’s some next level white priviledge; killing a bike bridge with one comment. Why would anybody vote yes to give Metro more money for freewsys? Vote yes on the teacher levy! We should be building schools not freeways.

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      Middle of the Road Guy October 20, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      What does the teacher levy have to do with this?

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    rachel b October 18, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    It’s not that simple. Didn’t BikePortland have a column fairly recently reflecting a new understanding (given the downward spiraling condition of local paths–The Springwater, Oaks Bottom, I-205) of, for example, Gresham and Fairview’s lack of enthusiasm for a proposed, new multi-use corridor in their back yard a few years back?

    It’s not a baseless reluctance, what neighbors now feel about this kind of very impactful infrastructure being introduced. Things have changed in the Portland region, and not for the better. Lents has taught us a lot. And Portland’s laissez faire approach to, well, everything, is not helping matters.

    I’m a diehard liberal who would’ve been behind the OGLO proposed bridge in a heartbeat in the past. But no more. I stopped using all the paths I mentioned above, several years ago. LO haters may delight in the idea of it but I’m genuinely worried about Tryon Creek State Park suffering the fate of the Springwater. Not to mention, won’t the construction of the bridge wipe out waterside parks on both sides of the river?

    The 11th hour shoving in of the transit lane stinks. And the money would be better spent improving what we’ve got, which is deteriorating fast. This smells a little like a pet project of someone(s) looking for a legacy.

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    Granpa October 19, 2019 at 6:07 am

    “I ran for office to build bridges, not walls. This bridge is a wall”
    Thank you Commissioner Bernards for providing the political doublespeak that is so valuable in turning apathy into disgust with the political class. Consider yourself successful

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    Mark smith October 19, 2019 at 9:52 am

    This is why single family housing is toxic. See how these ‘homeowners” kill any project that doesn’t make them totally happy? Sad that these homeowners turned nimbys are so interested in on thing (themselves) they can possibly see that this project benefits more than themselves.

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      Holtz October 19, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      I just emailed each of the commissioners to ask that they consider how their decisions affect their neighbors… and to support freedom of transportation choices by giving people a safer, easier route between Lake Oswego and points north. Note that on the Clackamas Commissioners webpage (https://www.clackamas.us/bcc#ourcommissioners) the links to individual commissioners show the same email for all of them (bcc@clackamas.us) but if you scroll to the bottom of the individual commissioner pages, there is contact information for each commissioner’s policy advisor.

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    Holtz October 19, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    I live in Sellwood… which is flooded morning and evening with Clackamas County drivers and their cars… heading over the Sellwood Bridge that they refused to help pay for. And now they hesitate to support a bike/ped bridge, in part so they can put more money into expanding roads that will dump even more cars in our neighborhood???? Arrgh!

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    Jim Lee October 19, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    One old white person owns neither a house nor a car and rides a fixie.

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    David October 19, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    In the past folks have complained about how unsafe 43 is for bicyclists. I don’t see how the bridge improves this. I would support improving 43 for bicyclists.

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    Tod Foulk October 19, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    so break it down….how many bikes will use it? how much will it cost total per bike? and total cost per tax payer?

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    Michael Mann October 23, 2019 at 8:47 am

    I’m in favor of the bridge. If we take the long view, it’s an important link we’ll need as we move away from an SOV-centered mindset, which the commissioners unfortunately seem mired in. However, if this dies, part of the blame must rest on the continued failure of our regional leaders to deal effectively with houseless-ness. It sounds like the Lake-O/West Linn contingent see the bridge as an easy gateway the houseless will use to access their community. And they are probably right.

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      rachel b October 23, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      Agreed, and well said. LO and West Linn will, I hope, work hard to get out in front of that eventuality with facilities/shelters. And enforcement of laws, too–though I realize that’s a quaint notion anymore. I don’t want to see Tryon Park with open campfires in it.

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