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City leaders seek to cooperate with Multnomah County on Union Pacific bridge.

OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - Fairview Mayor Ted Tosterud stands by a Union Pacific railroad overpass north of Interstate 84. Fairview City Council has climbed another rung toward replacing a railroad overpass that elected leaders say is dangerously unsafe for pedestrians.

During a review meeting, city officials hashed out the finer points of a contract they hope to sign with Multnomah County, which has jurisdiction over 223rd Avenue as it passes below the railway line north of Interstate 84.

Fairview has already committed to ponying up $50,000 for the project. At least $25,000 will go to Union Pacific, which has a legal right to compensation for the time its engineers spend reviewing proposed changes to the bridge.

OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - Northeast 223rd Avenue is speckled with sidewalks and bike lanes, but both taper down to nothing where a Union Pacific railroad bridge crosses the bustling arterial. The engineering and design work — which will likely recommend carving out a new retaining wall to make space for a sidewalk and bike lane on one side of the road — should cost roughly $100,000.

It's possible Metro regional government will chip in to support the project.

The intergovernmental agreement is just the first step, allowing the city and Multnomah County to collaborate. A total rebuild of the railroad bridge is expected to cost at least $10.4 million.

"In the past, we've just sat back and said, 'You've got to solve this problem, come up with the money,'" explained Fairview City Administrator Nolan Young. "Without this design work, we'll probably just stay where we're at right now and continue to rattle sabers."

Mayor Ted Tosterud has led the charge to replace the railroad bridge, highlighting unsafe conditions like the crossing's support columns, which are protected by bulging guardrails that force cyclists onto the two-lane road.

It's clear from the trampled grass beneath the bridge that most pedestrians choose to scramble up the muddy embankments rather than walk in the street.

Union Pacific is under no obligation to improve the bridge, because they've owned the tracks heading toward Portland long before 223rd Avenue was built. Complicating matters, there are no "as-built" drawings showing the current design of the bridge on file at City Hall.

"They have to do, essentially, forensic engineering," noted Councilor Keith Kudrna, who daylights as an architect, during the work session on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

"This is not a simple deal," agreed Public Works Director Allan Berry.

Multnomah County replaced the other railroad overpass on 223rd in 2010, and officials say they want to rebuild this one with pedestrian amenities on both sides of the street, eventually.

Fairview councilors are tentatively scheduled to approve or reject the intergovernmental agreement on Wednesday, Feb. 7. OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - A truck speeds along Northeast 223rd Avenue in Fairview.

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