Policy advisory committee met to discuss the feasibility of a ped/bike bridge

PMG PHOTO: ASIA ALVAREZ ZELLER  - Meeting attendees line up to give public comments.The policy committee for the controversial Oak Grove-Lake Oswego bridge proposal decided last week to extend the feasibility study process by no longer than 90 days, so that all parties involved have time to obtain necessary information and discuss with their councils, at which point they will reconvene to decide whether to move to the next phase.

"To move forward, for Lake Oswego, at this point would be a disservice," said Lake Oswego City Councilor Jackie Manz, who is a member of the policy committee. "We as Lake Oswego just have not received enough information." Because of that, she said, the public process that was previously conducted was flawed.

The decision was made at the policy committee's third meeting Friday, Oct. 25.

The meeting had the intended purpose of coming to a consensus on the feasibility of a proposed ped/bike bridge — given the findings of phase one of the feasibility study — and to decide on moving forward with the project.

The proposed LO-Oak Grove ped/bike bridge would span over the Willamette River to connect Lake Oswego and Oak Grove, making biking and walking safer and more accessible for residents of both sides.

The policy committee includes officials from LO and Oak Grove, as well as the county and Metro.

In an Oct. 15 Clackamas County Board of Commissioners meeting regarding the bridge feasibility study, the commissioners were originally set to decide on the top three out of 10 choices for the bridge's alignment and landing locations. Instead, they voted to have the county's Department of Transportation and Development (DTD) work with Metro staff to gather more information and figure out the cost estimate for only one landing location for the bridge.

As the Oct. 25 meeting opened, Ellen Rogalin, of Clackamas County Department of Transportation & Development, presented what sort of public engagement had been done. Some noted outreach methods were media releases, presentations to community groups and over 4,000 postcards mailed to Lake Oswego and Oak Grove residents. Rogalin presented public poll information from a random sample phone survey that indicated 71 percent of Oak Grove/Milwaukie residents and 55 percent of Lake Oswego residents support the idea of the bridge.

Project manager Steve Williams presented the analyses of bridge alternatives including the different structures, costs and environmental impacts.

One woman who did not state her name during public comments said "the transit option has to be thrown in the trash can immediately," referring to a prior Metro proposal to add public transit on the bridge.

Bruce Parker, a Canby resident, noted that he's a member of one of the older demographics that were polled and said, "you're making a decision for not my generation, but the generations to come."

Rob Rose said that even more than being a supporter of the bridge, "I'm really more generally a supporter of a bike solution. If someone could get me from Lake Oswego to the Sellwood bridge, I don't care how they get me there. I'm glad this is an alternative that's being pursued."

Many people from Lake Oswego gave public comments against having the bridge land in Foothills Park. Still, some said the bridge would provide much needed access outside of Lake Oswego.

Others said there has to be an alternative that would still provide bike trails without a bridge that would edge right up against people's private property.

After public comments, the committee moved on to make a decision regarding next steps.

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba said, "in my mind we are at a point where it is feasible. I am strongly supportive of moving to the next step."

Manz disagreed. She did not feel comfortable moving forward until her council had more information.

The Lake Oswego City Council is expected to discuss the issue at its Nov. 5 meeting.

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- County puts brakes on Oak Grove-Lake Oswego bridge