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Wilsonville hopes grant can help bridge Interstate 5

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Many bicyclists in Wilsonville wish there was another way to cross Interstate 5 aside from the Wilsonville Road, shown here. To address the issue, the city plans to apply for a Connect Oregon grant that, if successful, would enable a new bicycle/pedestrian bridge to cross the freeway at Barber Street.It’s intended as a lifeline across Interstate 5. Now the city of Wilsonville is hoping it has found the means to pay for a proposed multi-million dollar bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the freeway at Barber Street.

The project is listed as a high priority in the city’s most recent transportation systems plan. However, the plan does not list any potential source of funding.

According to Nancy Kraushaar, the city’s community development director, the latter problem could be solved through ConnectOregon, the state lottery-backed initiative to develop alternative transportation options around the state.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is currently soliciting applications from both private and public entities for the fifth round of grant awards. And last week the Wilsonville City Council directed city staff to apply for the funds needed to pay for the bridge.

“We’d ask for the full amount,” Kraushaar told the council. “And it could be the chances are slim, but it’s always worth a try. And it could be that you might become more ripe for the next round or perhaps find other opportunities.”

ConnectOregon V features up to $42 million in lottery-backed bonds, according to ODOT. Awards are based on whether projects would reduce transportation costs for business or improve job access; whether there is an economic benefit to the state; whether a project is a “critical link” connecting other transportation elements; how much of the cost can be borne by the applicant; and whether the project is shovel-ready.

Recipients typically are required to supply matching funds worth at least 20 percent of the grant award. The bicycle and pedestrian bridge would cost an estimated $5.8 to $6.9 million and would require city to match funds in the neighborhood of $1.4 million. (Editor's note: This story previously had inaccurate figures for these estimates; they were too low and the piece has been edited to reflect that.)

And it would be worth every cent, said Councilor Susie Stevens. She told colleagues she regularly rides her bicycle through the Wilsonville Road-I-5 interchange and would really like to find a safer route across the freeway.

“I ride my bike a lot across there,” she said. “I hate going through that interchange.”

Riding further south and crossing underneath the I-5 Boone Bridge along the banks of the Willamette River, she added, is even worse.

The only catch at this point is that grant applications are due no later than Nov. 23 — less than three weeks from the council’s most recent meeting on Nov. 4. The subsequent award process could take another nine months.

Nonetheless, councilors instructed Kraushaar to proceed with the application.

“ConnectOregon is intended to get things built quickly,” Kraushaar said. “This is a fairly simple bridge and it would be easy to do the engineering. I think the odds are not great, but the project is still worthy and there is a chance we’d qualify for the funding.”



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