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Agencies consider car-free river crossing between West Linn and Oregon City

COURTESY PHOTO: ODOT ONLINE OPEN HOUSE - ODOT and partner agencies have proposed five possible alignments for a bike and pedestrian bridge spanning the Willamette River between West Linn and Oregon City. The Oregon Department of Transportation wants to hear from residents about where to build a bike and pedestrian bridge over the Willamette River between West Linn and Oregon City.

Working with Metro, Clackamas County and the cities of West Linn and Oregon City, ODOT has narrowed its options to five possible alignments for the bridge.

One option, labeled by ODOT as 1c, would start on Mill Street in West Linn, span the river and end on 4th Street in Oregon City. Another option, 2b, would start farther east on Mill Street, cross the river and end on 5th Street in Oregon City. A third option, 4a, would begin farther to the east on Mill Street, next to the Arch Bridge, run parallel to the bridge and end on Main Street in downtown Oregon City.

The last two options, labeled 6 and 7a, are between the Arch Bridge and Abernethy Bridge, both beginning at the same spot along Highway 43 on the West Linn side of the river. One of the bridges runs to 9th Street in Oregon City. The fifth would be slightly longer and run from Highway 43 to 10th Street.

The proposed bridge is supposed to make it easier for all commuters to cross the river, whether by foot, bike, scooter or wheelchair, according to ODOT's online open house.

Currently, walkers, joggers and bikers must use the Arch Bridge, which has no dedicated bike lane. The Arch Bridge currently has sidewalks, though they do not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act parameters.

ODOT and its partner agencies hope the bridge project, if it moves forward, coincides with other initiatives in the vicinity like the I-205 widening project, West Linn's Willamette Falls Drive and Highway 43 improvements, and the Willamette Falls Legacy Project in Oregon City.

ODOT has begun analyzing the five remaining bridge alignments based on criteria like equity, demand, safety, user experience, expected use, cost and design feasibility.

According to ODOT, 4a, the bridge running parallel to the Arch Bridge, scored poorly in terms of equity and design feasibility.

The scoring chart shows that this option was viewed negatively by "key groups of social, cultural and economic priority," particularly Indigenous people, while the fourth and fifth options were viewed positively. Bridges 1c and 2b had neutral scores in the "equity" category.

Equity scoring was based on studies, interviews and reports about how the bridge would impact cultural and historical resources in the area as well as key groups living in the study area, including the potential for displacement or destabilization of those communities, according to an ODOT memo.

Bridge 4a also scored poorly in the design feasibility category, meaning there are significant concerns with the design and whether it would meet ADA criteria.

ODOT is hosting a virtual public meeting about the bridge at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6. The meeting includes an opportunity for attendees to ask questions of planners.

ODOT's survey on the bridge options is open until April 13.

"We want as many people as possible to see the open house and take the survey," said Don Hamilton, a public information officer for ODOT.

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