Planning for pedestrian-cyclist bridge over I-5 ramps up
With a major hurdle — purchasing the east-side bridge landing property — behind it, the City of Wilsonville is moving forward on a project to add a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-5.
During a meeting Wednesday, Nov. 13, City staff updated the Wilsonville Planning Commission on where the project stands and steps moving forward.
The purpose of the project is to provide a safer connection across town for pedestrians and bicyclists than Wilsonville Road or Boeckman Road. It also would provide better access to transit for those who work in Town Center and a better connection to the commercial area for those who live in Villebois.
The bridge is one of the flagship projects of the Town Center Plan, a strategy for creating a more attractive Town Center with more mixed uses and easier mobility. The bridge project has yet to be funded, but the City plans to develop a funding strategy in 2020.
"I do think it is a smart thing to do this bridge early as an incentive for development over there (Town Center)," Planning Commissioner Jerry Greenfield said at the meeting.
The City will begin engaging the public on the project in early 2020 and will release a design that is 30% complete in the summer.
"That includes lighting, landscaping, railings, really the aesthetics of how that bridge will look. It will culminate with a City picnic," City of Wilsonville Capital Projects Engineering Manager Zach Weigel said at the meeting.
The City is in a hurry to complete design work because a grant from the Metro regional government is set to expire in 2021. It expects to complete the design by the fall of 2021.
One factor the City hasn't yet determined is exactly where the bridge will land on the west side of town or if the City would need to purchase property to make the landing work. Planning Commissioner Jerry Greenfield suggested at the meeting that one difficulty might be making the bridge ADA accessible and available to bicyclists. ODOT requires the bridge to stand at least 18 feet over I-5.
"(With) ADA, the slope needs to be less than 5% so it's quite a distance to get up to that elevation," Weigel replied.
And a potential long span could impact local property. Weigel said the Rite Aid Distribution Center building and a vacant building on the west side could be impacted. He also said the location of Peyton Lane currently is a challenge.
"One of the key issues with that is Peyton Lane is in the wrong spot for the bridge. We need to look at 'Do we need a bridge over that road or can we do some kind of circular landing?'" Weigel said.
Although the City purchased the east-side bridge landing property in May, Regal Cinemas still hasn't signed off on allowing the zoning of the property to be changed, which is required for the bridge to be built.
The City has offered concessions to incentivise them to do so, such as considering Regal to be in conformity with parking code even though it's technically a few spots under the standard requirement. Assistant City Attorney Amanda Guile-Hinman said talks with Regal Cinemas began again recently after being put on the back burner.
The City is confident the theater chain will acquiesce.
"They didn't object to the bridge per se," City of Wilsonville Planning Director Miranda Bateschell said at the meeting. "It was just about if that portion of the parking is impacted in any way, that we would work with them to correct any of those impacts."
Weigel also said that the City would ask the Oregon Department of Transportation if it could put a pier in the I-5 median, which Weigel said could make design and construction easier.
"We'll be pushing hard for that," Weigel said. "It's a very long span otherwise."
The City also must decide what type of bridge will be most suitable.
"We need to determine what some of the design requirements from ODOT are before we know which bridge type will fit best," Weigel
Another factor will be the layout of the plaza, which will be located near the east-side bridge landing.
Planning Commissioner Simon Springall also brought up the City improving connectivity to Wilsonville Transit Center as part of the project and said Boones Ferry Road and Barbur Street are unsafe for bicyclists.
"That's not part of the scope of the work for the bridge. It's really about connecting to the existing infrastructure on Barbur and Boones Ferry right now. There could be a future phase of looking at how to better get to that destination," Weigel said.
The City's public outreach also will include asking citizens what they would like public art for the project to entail. That could include engaging local artists, hiring an architect or other options.
Greenfield thought that a project similar to Beauty and the Bridge, where local students created murals to complement the construction of the current 8-lane I-5 interchange, could be a way to spur momentum behind the project.
"It seems to me that would not only increase the public awareness of the bridge but the investment of those young people in using it," he said.
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