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The city approves a tied-arch design for bicycle and pedestrian bridge that would cross I-5

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF WILSONVILLE - Wilsonville City Council chose a tied-arch bridge design for the I-5 bicycle and pedestrian bridge during a meeting Monday, Oct. 5.

In selecting between structural impressiveness and artistic panache for a new bicycle and pedestrian over I-5, the Wilsonville City Council unanimously chose the former during a meeting Monday, Oct. 5.

The council selected a tied-arch bridge option, which consists of two looping structures over the bridge roadway. The other two options presented included "modern artistic," a simpler structure with art to attract onlookers and a cable-stayed option, which is a towering structure with cables attached to a single pillar in the middle of the bridgeway. The Wilsonville Planning Commission and participants in online surveys and virtual open houses generally preferred the tied-arch option.

"It's an iconic and historic kind of shape. It certainly harks back to the old bridge at Oregon City and other arched bridges. I feel like it tied it together with that historic element and looks very graceful," Wilsonville City Councilor Charlotte Lehan said during the meeting.

Wilsonville City Councilor Ben West, however, said he actually preferred the modern artistic option and many participants in public input processes also gave a high rating to that design. West liked the proposed art for this design, which would resemble a river running across the freeway. He said he also liked the tied-arch option.

"I think the river brings unique artistic lighting opportunities that's not only creative but will allow the driver, the walker and residents around it to enjoy those opportunities," he said.

However, consultant Alex Dupey said community members were more polarized about the modern artistic option, with some enthusiastically endorsing and others disapproving.

The tied-arch bridge could be the most expensive of the three proposals and is projected to range in price from $8.5 million to $10.4 million, compared to $6.9 million to $8.6 million for the modern artistic design and about $8 million for the cable-stayed option.

However, consultants explained that the tied-arch bridge price tag could end up being cheaper than anticipated because it likely wouldn't require as much maintenance and material replacement as the modern-artistic option.

"[In] both the tied-arch and cable-stayed, the strength of the design is the form itself instead of ornamentation that would be added or need to be replaced over time. I wonder about the ongoing maintenance," Council President Kristin Akervall said.

The City Council also agreed to prioritize lighting for visual appeal and fencing and other buffers from I-5.

Lastly, the council agreed with the planning commission to combine "river oxbow and drops and ripples" design elements for the gateway plaza in Town Center that would reside next to the bridge. This hybrid could include multiple smaller gatherings spaces rather than one large space as well as an extensive tree canopy and art installations.

Now that these decisions have been made, the city will work on a design for the project that is 30% complete.

Frog Pond West tweak

The council also approved a tweak to the development code for the Frog Pond West neighborhood during the meeting. The code change stipulates that developers won't be required to waive their remonstrance (meaning objection) rights for the formation of a Local Improvement District (where property owners pay for infrastructure improvements) once the developers pay the required supplemental infrastructure fee. This means that an LID would likely not be formed because homeowners would not be obligated to pay into the district, Planning Manager Dan Pauly told Pamplin Media Group.

As Community Development Director Chris Neamtzu explained it during the meeting, the possibility of an LID forming in the neighborhood provided uncertainties (including the cost of such a district) for potential homebuyers, leading some to be more reticent to buy a home there. The city forwarded this resolution after Frog Pond Ridge subdivision developer West Hills Development raised concerns about the code.

"It (an LID) represents a continuing and uncertain obligation on the lot," Neamtzu said.

City Councilor Joann Linville thought the city should think about applying this policy more broadly. However, Neamtzu noted that an LID hasn't been formed in Wilsonville in many years.

"It's important to note that this developer has probably brought to our attention the need to rethink some of our current code and how the waiver of remonstrance might function in the future or be part of some update to our current code," Linville said.

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