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Cities work with Clackamas County, Metro and ODOT on feasibility and public engagement process

As West Linn, Oregon City and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde plan development on both sides of the Willamette River, a new connection across the river also may be in the cards.

PMG FILE PHOTO - West Linn, Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro and ODOT are exploring the feasibility of a bike/pedestrian bridge across the Willamette River. These agencies, along with Clackamas County, Metro and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), plan to consider the feasibility of a car-free bridge across the water, connecting West Linn and Oregon City.

The cities' current link, the Arch Bridge, has two narrow traffic lanes and sidewalks, but no designated bike lanes.

According to ODOT Public Information Officer Don Hamilton, the idea of a bike and pedestrian bridge in this area has been discussed for a while, but hasn't seen much traction until recently.

"We're just getting started on this. We're going to get the public's take in January, and over the course of next year, we'll start looking at alignment options, an analysis to see what conditions are like; we'll start to look at cost," Hamilton said.

West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod said he's long been pushing to expand the city's bicycle community network and the bike/pedestrian bridge would be a big step in that direction. He said it also would align with the city's plans for cycle tracks along Highway 43 and Willamette Falls Drive.

As part of the feasibility study, the participating agencies say they will take into account the cultural and historical significance of the area and look at crossing options that would have the least impact on natural and cultural resources.

Currently, plans for development on both sides of the river include pathways for cyclists and pedestrians to take in the river and surrounding area.

On the Oregon City side, the Willamette Falls Legacy Project group is working on a riverwalk between downtown Oregon City and the falls.

On the West Linn side, community members have expressed an interest in a variety of developments including shops and businesses, but also an emphasis on open spaces with walkways and appreciation for the area's native history. Though there currently are no concrete plans as for what the city will do with its waterfront area.

"With the right plan and the right connections with the community, we feel that this can be a real asset to both sides of the river as they try to better develop access to the river," Hamilton said.

Hamilton also mentioned ODOT's desire to have strong community engagement in the preliminary planning stages.

"This is a very exciting prospect for the community, and we want to make sure we engage everybody — the electeds and the community members — so that they are participants as the process moves forward," he said.

ODOT has allocated $350,000 for the preliminary studies and community engagement process.

The agencies aim to complete plans for the bridge, as well as a cost estimate for the entire project, in the spring, at which point they will begin to determine how to fund it.


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