Tell ODOT which carfree Oregon City-West Linn bridge to build

Posted by on March 30th, 2021 at 8:44 am

Which alignment will work best? It’s time to choose.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has just released visualizations of potential alignments for a new carfree bridge across the Willamette River that would connect Oregon City and West Linn.

As we’ve shared since planning began last fall, ODOT wants to get a plan in place in advance of federal funding opportunities. ODOT also understands that a new bridge for bikers, walkers, and mobility device users will help cities on both sides of the river capitalize on future demand given the myriad tourism, real estate, and transportation infrastructure developments planned for the area.

Advertisement


The Oregon City-West Linn Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge Concept Plan online open house is available now in English and Spanish and will stay open through April 13th. There’s also a survey to gauge public interest in the project overall and to help ODOT choose one of five alignments.

The alignment alternatives (above) include three options south of the existing Oregon City-West Linn Arch Bridge and two north of it. These five were selected from 15 that were screened by project consultants and previous public outreach.

The two options furthest south — alignments 1c and 2b — require switchback ramps and/or elevators to make up elevation gain/loss. Alignment 4a would be build adjacent to the existing bridge and mimic its style. Alignments 6 and 7b are between the existing historic bridge and the I-205 Abernethy Bridge.

ODOT’s current evaluation of the alignments favors 6 and 7b. They score the best for ease-of-use, design feasibility, equity, and are expected to perform best based on expected future demand.

ODOT will use feedback from this survey to inform their recommendation of a preferred alignment to the Oregon City Commission and West Linn City Council. If/when (at last check some Oregon City leaders were vehemently opposed to the bridge) a recommendation is adopted, the project will be added to the respective Transportation System Plans and take its place in the funding queue.

Make sure your voice is heard before the survey closes on April 13th. Find links to the survey and online open house at the official project page.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

37
Leave a Reply

avatar
18 Comment threads
19 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
27 Comment authors
rickTeresaLaura GreyerbiehlMatt LawerGranpa Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Ed
Guest
Ed

And while you are at, you can tell ODOT to use revenue from the I-205 tolling to pay for this bridge. After all, they are planning on using toll money to pay for multiple new bridges on the interstate, as well as to expand I-205 to three lanes. A billion here, a billion there. The least they could do is chip in some bucks for us peons who don’t drive everywhere.

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

I strongly feel we can get what we need out of the existing infrastructure. Just push a button to signal red lights on both sides while bikes are crossing (uphill only perhaps?) and then I think we’d be good. Civil engineers love building stuff but we really don’t need it

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I tend to agree with you here. Normally, I’d be all for a new pedestrian bridge, as it improves walking connectivity. But what would this even be connecting to on the north end? Seems to be a whole lot of nothing. I could see some value in alignment 1, assuming the mill site is redeveloped. Alignments 6 and 7 just dump pedestrians into a freeway interchange.

maxD
Guest
maxD

there is a pretty great MUP along the river in Oregon City that will be extended, I think to as far as the Option 6. Likewise, on the West Linn side, a new MUP will connect the arch bridge under the 205 bridge. Having a bike ped bridge will connect and extend these resources which link up to trails in Milwaukie. This kind of infrastructure can build momentum to connect routes to Lake Oswego, too. I get that we may be able to do more with what we have, but I am excited about a dedicated bike bridge and think it could unlock a huge amount of potential for future and existing riders

JJ
Guest
JJ

Whoa…while I don’t like this fact and would rather see people ride bikes…the amount of traffic that crosses that bridge is pretty high and during rush hour stopping traffic to allow bikes on the deck would be insane and just give more ammo to the WL and OC folks who think this just ODOT trying to force car bound folks to use the 205 tolls(yes that’s all over the community FB’s).

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I think forcing traffic on that bridge to stop every time a cyclist crosses is a bit of a non-starter.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

I’m usually in the let’s just modify the existing infrastructure camp as well but that wouldn’t work here for a few reasons. Mainly, the current bridge is already 100 years old and isn’t going to last much longer. Secondly, the current sidewalk is too steep and too narrow for any kind of safe passage for people with disabilities. As far as bikes go, you could add a button or something, sure, but the busiest times, when everyone is going to work or the store, etc, there are so many cars that the bikes would still just be stuck in the car traffic.

Matt Lawer
Guest
Matt Lawer

Alan I have to disagree with you here, and the city council. The existing ways to get out of Oregon City involve either using the narrow and very congested West Linn bridge, riding with high moving vehicle traffic with limited bike space, or by using the 205 bridge which is difficult to get to and requires crossing fast moving highway 213 in places.

I understand the hesitancy for increased taxes. Our property taxes here in Oregon City are already quite high and I’m not always sure I’m getting everything I’m paying for, but making the community more livable in this way would be worth it in my opinion.

drs
Guest
drs

Seems like the alignment should be driven by the purpose of the bridge. If the goal is to provide a link in the transportation network, the alignments that are furthest upstream from the falls make the most sense. Not requiring an elevator or ramp to access the bridge would mean that they would be faster connections that would be more usable and direct for people of all ages and abilities (although it does seem like the distance between the downtown core and these facility alignments would make for more out of direction travel). But if the main goal is to provide a draw to bring people into the area for sightseeing or recreation who wouldn’t otherwise view Oregon City as a destination, the alignments nearer the falls make more sense. These wouldn’t be the kinds of facilities that would help to make cycling a more attractive mode of transportation for everyday trips or get people out of their cars, but the bridges themselves could become major draws for tourists.

drs
Guest
drs

*Further downstream from the falls…

 
Guest
 

I think that options 1 and 2 should be discarded; they end up on the wrong side of 99E and not at the Oregon City town center. But options 4, 6, and 7 all look great. If they go with option 6 or 7 though, I really hope that they choose to extend the bridge over 99E!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The only alignment that doesn’t require crossing 99E is 4a. I think the upstream alignments exist because of planned development around the falls. It’s going to be quite a trek down to the existing bridge for pedestrians, so I see value in spacing these as far apart as reasonably possible. Plus, an alignment close to the falls will be more of a regional draw.

Another Engineer
Subscriber
Another Engineer

7b is the best of the 99E options. West linn side will have a cycle track at the landing and on the 99E side the terminus is a signal that could have a bicycle phase added.

EP
Guest
EP

Less switchbacks=better.

Huh
Guest
Huh

The whole area is a huge mess at rush hour. Two cars barely fit down the existing one side by side. There’s rarely foot traffic on it, as there’s nothing nearby on the West Linn side. I don’t see how this is a priority.

drs
Guest
drs

People are clearly driving from the Oregon City side to the West Linn side… thus the car traffic at rush hour. If people want to get from one side to the other by car, they probably would also want to do it by bike if there was a safe and efficient option to travel by that mode.

The point is to get people out of their cars and onto bicycles. Every person that uses the bike bridge is one fewer person getting in your way on the car bridge. That, or it would give you the option to not be stuck in your car behind all that traffic if you wanted to switch to a bike.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest
Todd/Boulanger

Al of them(?)!

JJ
Guest
JJ

Jonathan thanks for covering this. It’s interesting to hear and read the WL resident feedback about this on the associated community social media pages. There is prevalent misinformation campaigns(imagine that) about this project. Almost to the point of maddening levels…like hollering into the wind. Frustrating to say the least.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

So, exactly what we expect from the West Linn Facebook pages?

I don’t think there is a single action the government could take that wouldn’t spur outrage of some kind. The average person has an incredibly poor understanding of the basics of traffic flow, infrastructure funding, infrastructure spending, etc.

Jake
Guest
Jake

None of them

David Hampsten
Guest

Yes.

Sam Arnold
Guest
Sam Arnold

Of these 2b would be best. Soon oc will be developed there and west linn side can grow there. Not at the other spots

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

wasting money. They already have the arch Bridge? How many bridges do they need and do disabled people reaaly want to climb that grade and how often?

LASM
Guest
LASM

It just seems absolutely asinine that we would spend millions of public dollars on a bridge for bike/ped, when repurposing the existing arch bridge as bike/ped would have a negligible cost and the overall impact to vehicles would be adding, at most, 2-3 min to their trip – about the time of a long stoplight.

This is the problem with “balancing all modes.” We end up massively over-designing our infrastructure projects, which in turn makes them extremely costly and hard to fund, far more impactful on surrounding communities and natural areas, and generally mediocre for everybody.

drs
Guest
drs

Are you arguing for retrofitting the existing arch bridge with additional bike/ped facilities, or completely closing it to motor vehicle traffic? Is there another nearby route for people in cars to cross the river other than the Arch Bridge or the I205 bridge? Seems like closing the arch bridge to cars would cause problems if there wasn’t a viable alternate route, and I think that I read in comments on another post that addressed this topic that a study had found that adding additional lanes or facilities to the existing bridge would be more expensive than would be building a new pedestrian/bike bridge.

LASM
Guest
LASM

Yes I was suggesting closure of the existing arch bridge to cars. Is I-205 not a viable alternative? It has on and off ramps very near both sides of the river and it is being widened, which this effort is a part of.

drs
Guest
drs

I guess that makes sense if there are on and off ramps on either side of the river. I can think of several reasons why it could be a bad idea to have a freeway bridge serve as the only viable connection between two points (not to say that a bike/ped bridge isn’t a viable connection, but you know how these things are viewed by more auto-centric folks). But maybe this is the best solution in this case, especially if the locals don’t want to pay to build another bridge.

Laura Greyerbiehl
Guest
Laura Greyerbiehl

When the I-205 route closes due to an accident or ice (as happened two weeks ago) the Arch Bridge is the only route for vehicles. We need the second transportation option for this area with many rural residents who cannot realistically bike or ride public transportation.

Josh G
Guest
drs
Guest
drs

Hahaha. The solution to bridge the Willamette that only costs $10 Billion in loses to global trade per day.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

Missing in the discussion is the redevelopment of the former paper mill (Blue Heron Paper) at the falls. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ron recently purchased the property with a goal of river access,acknowledgement of tribal history, and redevelopement of the property. They at this point are only starting their master plan and what will be there and when it will be built are open questions. As much as I would like to see a connecting bridge, capturing access to the Blue Heron site should be a primary design consideration. Until there is clarity, nothing should be selected nor built.

Terry
Guest
Terry

First, twin round abouts on the West Linn side seem like a really bad idea given the heavy traffic to and from I205 during commute times and when freeway traffic is backed up. Second, all options other than 4c which mimicss the design of the arch bridge will spoil the picturesque view of the river and/or of the falls. Third, options 1c and 2b will be the worst visually and may not be in keeping with the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde’s vision or plans for the Blue Heron Paper Mill site. Those options should not be even considered or approved without their approval first. Fifith, how many bicyclists and pedestrians are expected to use this bridge? It would be a pretty good hike from Oregon City to shopping in West Linn or to parks on that side. It’s good for there to be access but there should also be a need to fulfill. There are at least neighborhoods on both sides. It will be good if there is demand for it and if a significant number of people will use it. It doesn’t seem like that many people use the Sellwood bridge for biking or walking and the design has created terrible car traffic back ups.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

The West Linn roundabouts are south of traffic so that aspect of the comment is not valid. Your contention that the Sellwood Bridge is lightly used by cyclists and pedestrians is just wrong. It is a very busy, safe and appreciated route for active transportation users.
Sellwood insisted that the bridge be one lane so as not to turn Tacoma Street into into a (worse) nightmare for residents. For non residents, especially Clackamas County residents who commute through Sellwood there is little sympathy. They refused to contribute to the funding of the bridge and the refuse to build a bridge in their county.

Matt Lawer
Guest
Matt Lawer

Thanks for covering this Jonathan. In my experience Oregon City is really poorly connected to existing inter-community bike infrastructure. There isn’t an easy way to get to Canby or other southern communities or across the river without use of a car. The exception is the 205 path, but even it is difficult to get to from the populated areas. Many of the roads here are higher speed and the bike lines quite narrow.

I took the survey and will try to email my city council this week. The West Linn, Oregon City bridge is narrow and not a great option for multiple modalities given the amount of motorized traffic. Even as a fairly confident rider I get anxiety using it with either my car or bike.

Teresa
Guest
Teresa

Is this a choice or one more thing to ram down the throat of the OC residents? The vehicle bridge that is being proposed for construction will be a toll and will hugely impact those in our area who need to use it to get across the river. If cars are having to pay for their new bridge with a toll then I think the pedestrians and cyclists should also chip in to use any proposed bridge for their use. This feels like a done deal and we really don’t have input but clearly will be billed for it.

rick
Guest
rick

Should there be an Oregon tax on socks and shoes?