In the spirit of being a good neighbor, Union Pacific should consider bringing money to the table.

FILE PHOTO: THE OUTLOOK - Little room is left for pedestrians or bicycle traffic when large vehicles pass below the Union Pacific Railroad bridge spanning 223rd Avenue in Fairview.Thanks go out to Fairview Mayor Ted Tosterud for recognizing a potential threat to public safety, which may lead to a partnership with Multnomah County and the first steps toward fixing the problem.

It was Tosterud who sounded the alarm on the Union Pacific Railroad bridge spanning 223rd Avenue, which he says was not constructed with pedestrian and bicycle traffic in mind. The site is north of Interstate 84.

With Tosterud — and the city of Fairview — as the primary advocates, the county is considering adoption of an intergovernmental agreement that might one day lead to the total rebuild of the bridge, featuring amenities that benefit pedestrian and bicycle travel.

Fairview has pledged $50,000 to assist with the project. And the county would need to come to the table with dollars because 223rd Avenue is within its jurisdiction.

It's been suggested that Metro might also be interesting in bringing dollars to the project, as the bridge rebuild would play well into its goals of advocating for pedestrian- and bike-friendly travel routes.

We might also add that Union Pacific Railroad — in the spirit of being a good neighbor to the residents of East Multnomah County — should consider bringing money to the table. Sadly, it sounds like UP instead would rather charge an expensive fee to review any future reconstruction plan — not very neighborly.

A total rebuild of the railroad bridge is expected to cost at least $10.4 million. We hope all of the involved agencies will work together to explore other funding sources, and to keep costs lower for all.

Speaking of railroad bridges …

Frequent readers of The Outlook will recall two columns I've written regarding the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge that crosses Fairview Creek.

This is a bridge the carries oil trains, the likes of which caused an explosion when it derailed near Mosier in the Columbia River Gorge.

In my earlier columns, I called upon Union Pacific to investigate the earthen foundation that supports the bridge at Fairview Creek. Apparently UP removed a large beaver dam from below the bridge in 2017 that had been in place for several years. But the railroad never did explain the lengths to which inspectors went to determine if beavers had burrowed into the embankment and undermined the bridge supports. Instead, the public relations department danced around the subject.

I'm still waiting for an adequate response, but I have long since stopped holding my breath.

Speaking of breathing …

Multnomah County has enacted a ban on wood burning during times of atmospheric inversion, which traps smoke at the ground level and creates a health risk for many.

This is a smart policy and we applaud the county for taking this step. And we're also grateful that the policy takes into account the people who have no other source of heat other than burning wood.

For most of us, we have alternatives, and compliance with the no-burn policy won't have much of an impact on our daily lives, especially since this will only come into play a few days out of each winter.

Mea culpa …

Alert reader A.M. McIntyre correctly points out that the photo appearing with Sharon Nesbit's column in Friday's Outlook contained faulty information in the caption. In my haste to pull an archive photo to run with Sharon's column ("Troutdalians crawl out when East Wind subsides," Page A6), I mistakenly assumed the photo was taken in Troutdale simply because the image portrayed the East Wind — as if Troutdale was the only locale bombarded with blustery conditions. The photo actually depicts East Gresham Elementary School staff and students leaving school in December 2016 during a winter storm.

Sorry for the mistake. I hate it when I do that.

Steve Brown is publisher of The Outlook, Sandy Post and Estacada News.

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