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Bike/pedestrian bridge would provide route across the Willamette River for emergency crews

SUBMITTED PHOTO: CITY OF WILSONVILLE  - The French Prairie Bridge Task Force identified Boones Ferry Road as the optimal location for the bridge across the Willamette River. The French Prairie Bridge Task Force, which includes an amalgam of constituencies in and outside of Wilsonville to help guide the planning process for the development of a bike-pedestrian bridge across the Willamette River near Wilsonville, has decided its preferred bridge location.

The bridge would connect the Portland metro area with the French Prairie region and provide an alternative to the I-5 Boone Bridge for crossing the Willamette River for bikers and pedestrians as well as emergency crews.

Among three options, the task force chose the proposed bridge be placed along Boones Ferry Road as opposed to alignments that would funnel the bridge toward Tauchmann Street and another that would reside near the Wilsonville Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the east of the other two options. All three of the alignments are located between the I-5 Boone Bridge and the Western railroad bridge.

Based on scores first produced by the French Prairie Bridge Project Technical Advisory Committee and then adjusted and approved by the Task Force, the bridge along Boones Ferry graded out better than the other two bridge options in five of six categories — connectivity and safety, emergency access, compatibility with recreational goals, compatibility with existing and built, and cost and economic impact. The alignment to Tauchmann Street graded out better in terms of environmental impact and better overall than the third alignment near the treatment

plant.

The task force is expected to present its recommendation to Wilsonville City Council — which will then put forth a resolution to determine the bridge location. The task force is also expected to recommend a bridge type and a thorough environmental assessment is slated for later this year.

Wilsonville Planning Commision member Simon Springall said the bridge will complement Wilsonville's plans for the Ice Age Tonquin Trail, which would connect natural areas in Wilsonville, with Boones Ferry Road.

"I think it's a very positive thing for the city and regional connectivity and to be able to add this bridge just adds to it," he said.

"I think it's amazing and I think it's something to consider, especially eventually having a regional trail that can connect different communities. You can't go wrong," Wilsonville resident and task force member Leann Scotch said.

The task force determined that all three options would impact the Old Town neighborhood to a similar degree. While the Boones Ferry alignment would affect residents on Boones Ferry Road most and the Tauchmann Street alignment would affect residents on Tauchmann Street, project staff determined that the

third alignment would require the most navigation

through the Old Town neighborhood.

"It's concerning. It's frightening and we hope you think about that as you plan this project because it's going to impact this neighborhood and not in a good way," Old Town resident Michelle Dempsey said during the public comment portion of the meeting.

The task force agreed that the first two alignments would provide more trail and park connectivity than the third option and therefore would lead to greater tourism and economic benefit.

"The team saw the first two alignments generally connecting to Wilsonville and providing a fairly high level of economic benefit. The tourism goes up if more people use it," project staff member Bob Goodrich said.

They also determined that the Boones Ferry Bridge alignment provides a good view and river bank access.

The preferred alignment to Boones Ferry Road would be about 1,200 feet long and connect directly to the existing bike lane on the west shoulder of Boones Ferry Road, but there aren't existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the south side of the bridge. While the eastern alignment resides near the I-5 Boone Bridge and would be noisy, the Boones Ferry Road alignment is further away and would be less noisy.

Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member Steve Benson expressed support for the Boones Ferry Road bridge alignment but hopes the task force will consider Boones Ferry Park when determining the bridge's exact location.

"Not only would I recommend alignment one but recommend we move it as far west as feasible because if you move it east on Boones Ferry Road it starts splitting Boones

Ferry Park into two parks," he said.

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