Yet another delay for the Red Electric Trail Bridge
Southwest Portland walkers, runners and bicyclists who've been waiting for a new elevated bridge across the ravine that separates Capitol Highway and Beaverton Hillsdale Highway are being told yet again they will have to wait at least another year.
Plans to start construction on the Red Electric Trail Bridge at a spot across the street from Verde Cocina and Sasquatch Brewing, just west of Hillsdale Shopping Center, have been pushed back from the spring of 2020 to late 2020. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is now saying "construction will not be completed until spring of 2021."
Don Baack of the pedestrian advocacy group SW Trails has been lobbying PBOT to build the bridge for years. This isn't the first time the bureau has announced a delay.
"The history of this bridge has been one of delay, delay. Every delay results in the cost of the key element of the bridge to go up due to construction cost inflation. The city response has been to reduce the scope of the project and delay again," Baack said regarding the latest announced delay.
He told the SW Connection that sidewalks and speed bumps already have been trimmed from the project and, with inflation, more pedestrian safety features will have to be abandoned.
The proposed bridge would be 500 feet long and 14 feet wide and would rise 14 feet above the ravine. People can see where it's to be built from the unimproved parking lot across Capitol Highway from Sasquatch Pub. A trail connection would extend the Red Electric Trail to Southwest Bertha, where it continues at Beaverton Hillsdale Highway.
The budget to build the bridge was $3.9 million as of last February.
Nicole Pierce, the Transportation Bureau's capital projects manager, shared this vision of the bridge with the Portland Tribune in November 2018, two delays ago: "There's a look, if you're looking straight at the front of the bridge, that you're in the tree canopy level. It will very much feel like you're in the trees, in the air."
Baack said he figures construction of the Red Electric Trail Bridge in the Hillsdale neighborhood has now been postponed four times. Volunteers from SW Trails already have done a lot to clear the path for a bridge. He once said in a SW Trails video, "An example of a key project that's underway and will be completed in 2015 is the bicycle and pedestrian bridge at the west end of Hillsdale."
The latest delay, according to a Transportation Bureau news release, goes back to the last delay in February. At that time, the bridge bids were more than the bureau budgeted for the project. The plan was "to redesign some elements of the project and rebid in hopes of getting a better price."
That redesign took longer than expected so new bids won't be solicited until the summer of 2020, with construction possible in late 2020, unless there's another delay.
In January 2019, Glenn Bridger , a retired highway engineer who volunteers with the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association, told the SW Connection that he wasn't sure how the cost can be reduced enough to get the project on track.
"I don't think that they're going to make enough in savings to make this delay worthwhile. I interpret this delay as PBOT saying they're going to be able to save money by redesigning some of the footings without changing the scale of the project. I have difficulty believing that," Bridger said.
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