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Some councilors say bridge would negatively impact neighborhoods and parks

A show of hands. That's all it took to visualize the overwhelming majority of community members at the City Council meeting Nov. 5 who did not support a bridge that would connect Oak Grove to Lake Oswego by way of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge — that and the bright yellow and red stickers sporting the phrase "OGLO is a No Go."

After the policy committee for the controversial Oak Grove-Lake Oswego ped/bike bridge proposal decided Oct. 25 to extend the feasibility study process by no longer than 90 days, so that all parties involved would have time to obtain necessary information and discuss with their councils whether to continue with the next phase, the Lake Oswego City Council decided to not move forward with the feasibility study.

In a motion that passed 5-2 during the Nov. 5 City Council meeting, the council decided to consider the feasibility study complete, no longer appointing a council or staff liaison to the OGLO Advisory Committee — Councilor Jackie Manz was previously the council liaison. The majority of the council said the bridge was not feasible due to potential low usage, open space, park and neighborhood impacts, and cost implications.

"The City of Lake Oswego will contribute no funds for construction or maintenance of a bridge from Oak Grove to Lake Oswego," Councilor John LaMotte said when reading the motion. "The City of Lake Oswego will not support or approve infrastructure for ramps, bridge support structures or other facilities related to an OGLO bridge in Foothills or Tryon Cove Parks."

Many of the councilors, and the general public, said there was a lack of communication and felt in the dark throughout the feasibility process.

Though there were dozens showed up to the Nov. 5 meeting wearing a "OGLO is a No Go" sticker, there were still a handful of community members who spoke in support of the bridge.

Some cited the connectivity between the two cities as a reason to support the bridge, while others — including two teens from Lakeridge High School and one teen from Lake Oswego High School — said the bridge would help combat the climate crisis and reduce carbon emissions by promoting biking and walking.

Those opposing the bridge have pointed to a lack of communication from Metro and Clackamas County, and said the bridge would be a misuse of public funds.They added that access to public transportation once pedestrians get off the bridge is not easily accessible, the bridge would not help traffic or take cars off the road and it would negatively impact neighborhoods near both landing points.

"I am not anti-bridge. … I think the concept of the bridge is a wonderful thing but in this current situation and with the way this has been launched, I just don't have the passion to continue on this committee and on this project," Manz said. "I will continue to work on connectivity as it relates to Lake Oswego and our west side of the bank — and my work on the Willamette Falls heritage area and Willamette Falls — and hope that the passion for this project, that there's someone up here or out there to carry this forward and see what the future will bring."

The two councilors who wanted to carry the project forward were Theresa Kohlhoff and Daniel Nguyen. Both said they wanted more information.

Kohlhoff said there needed to be a harder look at the location, the design of the bridge and the cost. She said the details of the bridge were vague and there was a lack of communication and coordination, which is why she supported more study of the bridge.

LaMotte's concerns with the bridge included usage, cost and the physical impacts of installing a bridge. He said Metro's survey didn't show a strong need for the bridge or that it would take a considerable amount of cars off the road — some people said they would drive and park at the base of the bridge to cross it — and the survey was done prior to the community fully understanding the cost and impacts of the bridge.

"We are struggling with congestion on Stafford, McVey, (Highway) 43 (and) when they're (cars) idling, that's sending bad stuff up into our climate and that's climate change. It should be addressed before we really say a few people using the bridge is going to knock down our climate impact," LaMotte said. "I would love to get some of this traffic loosened up so we would really have a chance to drive and do the right thing for climate change."

In response to what LaMotte has heard regarding the importance of a bridge for emergency vehicles if a natural disaster like an earthquake occurs, he said he would rather invest the money into existing bridges instead of building a new one.

Mayor Kent Studebaker said he didn't see a reason to continue with the project after hearing the amount of Lake Oswegans who oppose the OGLO bridge.

"It's a waste of money, (a) waste of time," he said.

North Anchor ramps up

The Lake Oswego City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency Board (LORA), reviewed draft solicitation for developers during the Nov. 5 meeting and approved the draft with minor revisions.

The proposal deadline was extended from early January to Feb. 7 and the sample schedule proposed for the project includes a pre-bid meeting to allow for more community outreach Dec. 4.

The revisions to the draft made the language more clear so developers know exactly what the city is looking for with the North Anchor project.

The approved draft of the Request for Proposal with revisions will be advertised Tuesday, Nov. 12.

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