Time to reboot the Sellwood Bridge?

A re-evaluation of the whole Sellwood Bridge project, in light of the recent funding defeat in Clackamas County

This defeat this past week by Clackamas County voters of the proposed $5 license fee to help pay for the Sellwood Bridge replacement project has Multnomah County scrambling to decide what to do next. While decisions have not been made, I have a sneaking suspicion that what will happen is certain design elements will be removed, and the bridge will be built without Clackamas County’s contribution. (And despite calls from some quarters for the bridge to be tolled for non-Multnomah County motorists, I suspect that won’t happen). There are well-known reasons that this is likely to occur–too many people in positions of power have too much invested in the current approach.

But given that I’m a blogger, not an elected official, and am thus unconstrained by the reality of public project inertia, I’m going to view the enterprise de novo: If we assume that the Sellwood Bridge wasn’t there (or was no longer open to motor vehicles), and we had $200 million or so to spend on a new Willamette River crossing–what would we do?

Purpose and need

It’s a dirty secret of public project management that by controlling the “purpose and need statement”, a document which describes the overall scope of the project, one can often dictate the final outcome–any idea which lies outside the “purpose and need” statement is considered out of scope, and discarded. The P&N statement for the CRC, for example, effectively rules out many of the sensible design options proposed other than the big hairy multimodal bridge and freeway rebuild that has been selected.

The Sellwood Bridge project’s purpose and need statement says the following:

The purpose of the project, as approved by the project’s Policy Advisory Group, is to “rehabilitate or replace the Sellwood Bridge within its existing east-west corridor to provide a structurally safe bridge and connections that accommodate multi-modal mobility needs.”

The following four major issues define the need for the Sellwood Bridge project:

  • Inadequate structural integrity to safely accommodate various vehicle types (including transit vehicles, trucks, and emergency vehicles) and to withstand moderate seismic events
  • Substandard and unsafe roadway design
  • Substandard pedestrian and bicycle facilities across the river
  • Existing and future travel demands between origins and destinations served by the Sellwood Bridge exceed available capacity

This statement was the result of careful negotiations among stakeholders, so it likely contains numerous political compromises. However, it’s worth unpacking. Some of the stated clauses are obvious items that probably aren’t in dispute (safety, modern design, and sufficient capacity); but two important design criteria are effectively constrained by the purpose and need statement: the what (a multimodal bridge), and the where (“within its existing east-west corridor”, which has been interpreted to mean “must connect to SE Tacoma Street”). In addition, the fact that this project is being run by Multnomah County implicitly constrains the “who”–Multnomah County is effectively chartered to design, build, operate, and maintain the bridge–and as we saw this past week, that has significant implications.

Assuming that these three parameters are variable in our hypothetical reboot, it’s good then to turn to the more important underyling question:

Why?

Why are we considering building a bridge, and does the reason justify the cost(s) involved? Beyond the obvious why-does-the-chicken-cross-the-road answer, we need to understand what the bridge is for–which means, first and foremost, understanding who the bridge is for.

Is it primarily for residents of Portland neighborhoods near the bridgehead–Sellwood, Westmoreland, Sellwood, Burlingame, and Dunthorpe? Is it for Clackamas County commuters trying to avoid congestion on OR99E? Should be it be a major east-west thoroughfare capable of rivaling the downtown bridges and the Abernathy (I-205) bridge for capacity and throughput? And what modes should it serve, and to what extent? High-speed auto traffic? Local traffic only (including mixed-traffic busses)? Rapid transit? Bikes and pedestrians?

These questions need to be answered before pondering the next level of questions–and the subsequent design and management choices ought to support the stated purpose of the project. My main objection to the current project is that this goal is not met: The project is declared to be of regional importance and assumes significant amounts of regional traffic; this state of affairs is used to justify the unusual funding technique of taxing residents of a neighboring county. Yet the project is being run by Multnomah County, not by Metro or ODOT or any other agency with a broader scope, and the current design–a two-lane bridge which extends Tacoma Street–is incompatible with these regional aspirations. Of course, this is pretty much a description of the existing bridge (other than the fact that its paid for), but decisions made a century ago need not constrain decisions which will be affecting the region a century hence.

At any rate, once the project’s purpose is given due consideration, then its on to the next three questions:

Who runs the project, and who pays for it

As noted, Multnomah County owns and operates the current bridge, and is running the replacement project. The county owns and operates five other Willamette River crossings–the Sauvie Island, Broadway, Burnside, Morrison, and Hawthorne bridges, and has ample expertise in bridge construction and maintenance.

The other bridge operators in the Portland metro area are ODOT (who own and operate the Boone, OC/West Linn, Abernathy, Ross Island, Marquam, Fremont, and St. Johns) and the UP (Steel Bridge, LO rail bridge) and BNSF (N. Portland rail bridge, Wilsonville rail bridge) railroads.

Both county and state ownership pose issues for a multimodal connector of regional importance. Multnomah County has difficulty with self-funding of projects of this sort–as witnessed by its attempt to pass the hat to its southern neighbors; and may not adequately represent the interests of non-county users. ODOT has its own institutional problems–the agency is fundamentally a highway-building agency; and if a highway is not the intended solution, ODOT’s involvement may be counterproductive. There are many complaints about ODOT’s insistence on an expensive interchange on the current project, and about its involvement with the CRC.

Two other possibilities that have been suggested are Metro and TriMet. Metro, as the regional MPO, has a scope of jurisdiction appropriate for this sort of project, and has a more multimodal culture than does ODOT. On the other hand, ownership and operation of capital projects is something which the agency presently does not do. TriMet does have this sort of expertise in house, and will own and operate the new Caruthers crossing once it is built. TriMet has successfully completed other major civil engineering projects such as the Robertson Tunnel, and numerous smaller viaducts and bridges along the MAX line. However, operation of a bridge which isn’t primarily used for transit operations may be outside of its purview.

Where does it go?

The location of the bridge is another important consideration. The current project was pretty much constrained from the get-go to be a replacement for the existing bridge. In some ways, that makes sense–established traffic patterns will be maintained, Sellwood residents won’t be angered by losing “their” bridge, and NIMBY objections will be minimized. But the location of the present bridge is a major liability for regional mobility, due to the character of SE Tacoma Street–a two-through-lane neighborhood street with low speeds and numerous pedestrian traffic; an inappropriate corridor for high-volume regional traffic or rapid transit.

Unfortunately, the existing geography and land use of the river basin limits the opportunities for crossing. Wildlife refuges on Ross Island and at Oaks Bottom make a crossing to the north problematic. Immediately south of the Sellwood neighborhood one finds a golf course on the eastern shore. South of that, downtown Milwaukie is on the riverfront, but opposite Elk Rock/Dunthorpe and some of the most expensive and exclusive real estate in the metro area. A crossing between Lake Oswego and Oak Grove would be possible, but would be too far south to handle OR224 traffic.

Any crossing would be further hampered by the fact that the Tualatin Mountains hug the west bank of the river, limiting connectivity further west. (South of Lake Oswego/Oak Grove, the Oatfield Ridge limits east/west connectivity on BOTH sides). South of Taylors Ferry Road, the next major east-west thoroughfare which crosses OR43 is Country Club Road/A Avenue in Lake Oswego. And no matter where a bridge is built, there is the issue of OR43 passing through the Macadam neighborhood, a traffic bottleneck.

What should it look like

Finally, there is the question of what the bridge ought to look like. This is probably the easiest question to answer–it will probably look like the proposed current design, with 2 general purpose lanes, the ability so support mixed-traffic rail, and ample pedestrian/bike facilities. A highway-only bridge is politically out of the question. A “green bridge” might arise out of a future transit project, possibly in the LO/Milwaukie area, but a standalone bridge without support for auto traffic is probably a non-starter.

Discussion

Given all of that–if the existing project constraints were mostly removed, and the region had $200 million to build a southern crossing wherever it liked–where would you put it, how would you fund it, who would run it, and what would it look like? To make this interesting, feel free to imagine other connecting infrastructure projects in the future, if you like.

And if you think that the $200 million ought to be spent elsewhere entirely, or pocketed–with no more vehicular crossing of the Willamette between Oregon City and downtown after the existing bridge reaches the end of its useful life, feel free to say that as well.

53 Comments

53 Responses to Time to reboot the Sellwood Bridge?

  1. t.a. barnhart
    May 27, 2011 at 12:28 am Link

    that’s an interesting idea: tear down the bridge & don’t replace it. save $200M. use that for other transportation purposes: streets & sidewalks in East County. it’s not like the bridge is that great a convenience: you cross the river & hit a T; you still have to drive a long way to get anywhere. so let people do that driving on the east side. if people in Clack Co really want that crossing, they have to pay for it. otherwise, we should take our bridge (our $200M) & go home.

    i like that.

  2. EngineerScotty
    May 27, 2011 at 12:52 am Link

    T.A.

    I doubt the bridge would be torn down if it’s not being replaced–it is approaching structural obsolescence as a bridge for motor vehicles, but as a bridge for bikes and pedestrians only (and perhaps the occasional cop car) it could last a long time. Removing bridges costs money, after all.

    My wild-and-crazy idea, which regular readers here have probably seen before–which probably won’t fly for numerous reasons, and which would cost well in excess of $200 million:

    * Build a new railspur across 99E connecting the UPRR line with the industrial area immediately west of the highway, presently served by the Samtrak line. Abandon/bank the Samtrak (it might make a good Streetcar line, except for the fact that it serves nothing useful between OMSI and Oaks Park, and its largely redundant with Milwaukie MAX).

    * Build a new bridge, essentially immediately north of the golf course, and south of all them houseboats and such. Ideally a configuration with 2 general purpose lanes (one in each direction), and 1-2 mixed-use transit lanes (rails in concrete, similar to the Caruthers bridge).

    * Build a new roadway from the east end of the new bridge, along the following alignment: Existing Samtrak ROW through Golf Junction, with signallized intersections at 9th and 17th; proceeding along Ochoco Street with an interchange at 99E, then crossing over the UPRR tracks, turning north and then running parallel to the springwater corridor, and then becoming Johnson Creek Boulevard at SE Harney.

    * Convert the existing Sellwood Bridge to pike/ped use.

    * And in the future–build a tunnel from the west end of the bridge, through the west hills, ending around Burlingame. :)

    Like I said, it’s a wild and crazy idea, and unlikely to fly in the real world. (Which is why I put it here in the comments and not in the article).

  3. Ron Swaren
    May 27, 2011 at 5:48 am Link

    Since I’ve crossed the Sellwood bridge thousands of times I have never had the fear that it would “fall in the river.” Ever since the I-35 bridge collapsed (which had been extended to double its intended capacity and was also laden with construction materials at the time) this has been a popular refrain. I’m not disputing that there is truth in the criticisms and complaints of the Sellwood Bridge. But I simply don’t see how we can keep spending the sums that are now being proposed for this—and other—- transportation projects. I really don’t disagree with most ideas around here, in principle (the CRC being one project which, in principle, is wrong) but when costs rise as high as they have it is appropriate to consider alternative solutions that would cost less.

    Someone with some actual construction knowledge needs to advise our local planners. According to the standard line of reasoning pertaining to the Sellwood Bridge such American icons as the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn bridge would be nearing the end of their lifespans, too. If the doubters would take a little deeper look they would discover that the numbers cited for the viability of the bridge don’t mean a whole lot:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2008/03/the_good_news_about_sellwood_b.html
    The Sellwood’s ratings? Its deck and superstructure also are in “poor” or “serious” condition, but its substructure, including supports under the roadway, are rated “fair,” one notch higher than poor.
    The latest load ratings on the Sellwood show the bridge can handle more weight than the 10-ton limit the county imposed in 2004, said Ian Cannon, county bridge engineer. The county went with the 10-ton limit anyway, to ensure the span’s longevity. Even if the county had all the money it needed to pay for a replacement bridge today, it could take six years to finish the planning and construction.
    The Sellwood has had several load rating studies performed through the years, and those prompted weight restrictions since the 1980s.

    There’s the factor of neighborhood politics going on with the Sellwood Bridge…which is why it will inevitably remain a two-laner, even as traffic increases. Realistically, there should be an entire revision of strategy of what to do with that traffic, combined with how to get a good share of any plan paid for with federal money. But that plan would have to be accomplished within an economy where public expenditures are being closely scrutinized.

    The Sellwood Bridge could never be upgraded to further serviceability in the way that other Portland bridges have been. (I don’t think any of the other projects have exceeded $40 million.) But with an estimate of $300 million in the current proposal it’s no wonder it’s raised criticism. Commissioner Kafoury has come out with questions about the expense of the Lake Oswego Streetcar; I hope she and the other MultCo. commissioners could also see a problem with the Sellwood bridge plan, too.

    My solution would be: Reconstruct Sellwood bridge and replace the top sidewalk with a suspended walkway or one underneath, as Jim Howell has suggested. Replace heavy, concrete components with lighter, metal ones to reduce overall mass and install seismic bearings. Include streetcar on Tacoma and the Bridge to get some federal funding. Put a tunnel under Tacoma street (for less than one mile) to get through-traffic out of the neighborhood. Modify western interchange for transit stop and better traffic flow, and elevate any Westshore-LO street car line near the bridge so the connector from Milwaukie could meet it aasily. I think all four of these would still be less than the current proposal.

    Two other crossing points of the Willamette worth considering:
    Oak Grove Bv. to Foothills Dr. in Lake Oswego. A very short crossing, that would reduce VMT and that also has easy connections to other routes.

    And a Holgate Bridge connecting to a junction with I-5 (which is already partly there)? But with the MLR bridge I doubt this would ever happen.

  4. Chris I
    May 27, 2011 at 7:06 am Link

    A 1-mile tunnel through Sellwood? Cut and cover? Deep bore? How would this save money? Tunnels are very expensive, particularly in densely developed areas like that stretch of Tacoma St.

    Tacoma and the bridge are only a problem during peak commute hours. The problem is too much SOV thru-traffic, I don’t think we need to accommodate them with an expensive tunnel.

  5. EngineerScotty
    May 27, 2011 at 10:29 am Link

    Ron,

    The official opinions on the state of the current Sellwood Bridge are based on inspections of said bridge by qualified bridge inspectors. Just because other contemporary bridges located elsewhere are not in the same state of repair, has nothing to do with the Sellwood.

    I don’t know whether repairing the bridge, rather than replacing it, is a viable option. I’m not a civil engineer and do not have an informed opinion on that topic. Were it a practical option, it is certainly something that ought to be considered, particularly if the bridge can be rehabilitated so that heavy vehicles can use it.

  6. billb
    May 27, 2011 at 10:37 am Link

    Nice article E Scotty!
    I think with the Clack and the PPSchool vote one can see
    the Will of the People.
    Turn the existing bridge into a Ped/Bike Crossing
    and walk away.
    Spend that money in any of the many places we need it.
    It is embarrassing when our kids don’t graduate High School.

  7. cedr
    May 27, 2011 at 11:12 am Link

    Maybe… widen tiny Sellwood Ave, extend it through the north edge of Sellwood Park, and route SE Bybee traffic directly over the river to Taylor’s Ferry Rd. I’m sure the environmental impact and neighborhood objections would be minimal ;)

  8. EngineerScotty
    May 27, 2011 at 11:54 am Link

    Actually, Bill, kids not graduating high school is not a new thing. What’s new is that those who don’t no longer can find good work in the local factory, because the factory isn’t local (and those that remain local generally have little need for unskilled labor beyond pushing brooms and cleaning toilets).

  9. ws
    May 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm Link

    The bigger issues with schools are its one size fits all mentality. Bring back trade schools. I’ll take a high school dropout who can weld any day of the week vs. a high school graduate with mad Quiznos skillz.

    I still don’t get why replacing this bridge is so complicated.

  10. AL M
    May 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm Link

    I got to hand it to you Scott, you do some damn good research on your posts!

    ?? ? ??

  11. EngineerScotty
    May 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm Link

    At the risk of venturing too far off topic–trade schools, apprenticeships, and other ways of training skilled craftspeople still exist. It’s just that the number of jobs available for such work is a lot less than their used to be.

    There’s also been a shift in cultural attitudes. In the past, dropping out of school to work in a trade or on the farm was considered a perfectly acceptable career path; today, its widely considered a signifier of low intelligence and/or personal irresponsibility. (This cultural attitude is unfortunate–as there are many legitimate reasons why people would discontinue or postpone their education beyond a desire to get stoned and play videogames all day, but it’s there nonetheless).

    The intersection of these two cultural factors is that likeitornot, entry into the trades generally requires a high school diploma (or equivalent) at a minimum; dropouts need not apply.

    When society loudly insists that professional basketball players pursue a college education (even if for only one year–scratch that, for a semester-and-a-half, until March Madness is over); what chance do you think that uncredentialed professional spotwelders have?

  12. dan w
    May 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm Link

    Getting rid of the proposed interchange at the bridge’s west end would probably make the price tag more palatable…. to be sure, the current intersection is pretty subpar, but a slight tweaking coupled with a well-timed traffic light would greatly help traffic flow.

    I’d still like to see the new bridge built, if for no other reason than to have it once again accessible to busses.

  13. Jim Howell
    May 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm Link

    I recommended to Maria Rojo DeSteffey, Multnomah County Commissioner back in 2004 not to pursue federal funding that would require an exhaustive time consuming NEPA process to fix the Sellwood Bridge. The federal share ($20 million) for their involvement has still not been secured.

    The job would have been done by now if she had following my advice. I suspect that the following (Published in the Portland Tribune 5-25-04) could have been done for far less than $100 million.

    To the Editor,

    Does the Sellwood Bridge really have to be replaced? Why can’t it be fixed for far less than the $90 million replacement cost? “Busy Old Bridge is a span without a plan” (May 4, 04)

    The Sellwood Bridge is actually three separate structures. The structure over the river is a continuous steel truss supported by piers in the river and the two approaches, built over dry land, are beam and girder structures built with reinforced concrete. These are the structures that are in a serious state of deterioration and need replacing, not the main bridge span over the river.

    The roadway on the main span, which is also deteriorated, could be replaced and widened to accommodate two 13 foot travel lanes, the approach structures could be rebuilt and a separate bike and pedestrian deck could be constructed between the lower chords of the existing trusses. This would protect pedestrians and bicyclists from traffic and the elements.

    This all could be accomplished quicker, cheaper and with less environmental damage than constructing a new bridge.

  14. Aaron
    May 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm Link

    pursue federal funding that would require an exhaustive time consuming NEPA process

    Gotta say, it seems like FEISs kinda suck. I don’t see it helping the environment much. If I got to be enviroczar, I wouldn’t let them build the CRC or a whole lot of other things. Why does due diligence need to take so damned long? The alternatives often seem contrived, and good ones go unexplored. What the hell is it good for?

  15. Jim Lee
    May 28, 2011 at 11:50 am Link

    The Mercury published a letter this week bemoaning the dreadful cost ($290 million–marked down from $330 million!) of the ODOT/MultCo/PDX replacement plan for the Sellwood. It was attributed to “Skinny Bridge Fixer.”

    I first heard of a skinny bridge option from the recently departed and much missed Robert Liberty. Always it has seemed to me a good idea, promising all the functionality of the outrageous current proposal at a small fraction of the cost.

    Very much good stuff on this post and thread. Keep it coming!

  16. Garlynn Woodsong
    May 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm Link

    Jim Howell’s proposal does seem to make the most sense.

    If, however, the politicians are hell-bent on building a new bridge for whatever reason, why not make it a toll facility and bond against toll collections to pay for the cost?

    If tolls won’t ever pay for the cost, no matter what the term of the bond… then you have to question the need for building a new bridge in the first place, and return to Jim Howell’s proposal.

  17. Steve S.
    May 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm Link

    Why don’t any of the contraints to building the Sellwood bridge appear with or apply to Milwaukie Light Rail?

    It doesn’t matter how much MLR costs, that it’s not fully funded, or where the money is taken from.

    34,000 vehicles cross the Sellwood bridge daily.
    The project is moving forward through final design towards construction begining next year with completetion n 2016.

    It’s not going to be closed to traffic ever.
    It’s not going to be tolled.
    It’s not going to be torn down and not replaced.

    It’s estimated to cost $290 million because of the design and the non-bridge elements included in the budget.

    The preferred design expands the current width of 28 feet to 61 feet with no additional traffic lanes or capacity.

    Take out all the unnecessary elements and it is probably $200 million.

    The only reason it is yet to be fully funded is the persistent refusal to make it the priority for funding that it should be.

    No one involved wants to raise the question, “What else are we funding that can wait or is less important”?

  18. Ron Swaren
    May 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm Link

    The official opinions on the state of the current Sellwood Bridge are based on inspections of said bridge by qualified bridge inspectors. Just because other contemporary bridges located elsewhere are not in the same state of repair, has nothing to do with the Sellwood.

    I did hear testimony from an ODOT bridge inspector who said the bridge could be rebuilt. As a disclaimer, he did not submit any engineering studies or documents; it was his opinion.

    The approaches, as noted above, are inadequate and must be replaced. However as I have stated before, there is a lot of structural metal in the main span, considering that this bridge has only two lanes.

    A 1-mile tunnel through Sellwood? Cut and cover? Deep bore? How would this save money? Tunnels are very expensive, particularly in densely developed areas like that stretch of Tacoma St.

    No doubt it would be a b—– of a project. However, if streetcar proponents succeed with a connecting line on Tacoma St. the traffic backups will be phenomenal. I know that the neighborhood association won’t budge from restricting Tacoma to two lanes. So what’s the answer?

    One answer would be some Willamette River crossings in other spots.

  19. EngineerScotty
    May 29, 2011 at 8:15 am Link

    Why don’t any of the contraints to building the Sellwood bridge appear with or apply to Milwaukie Light Rail?

    Design constraints, or financial ones?

    It’s not going to be closed to traffic ever.

    Could happen, but I doubt it, for reasons explained why.

    It’s not going to be tolled.

    Probably not–too impractical. For tolls to be an effective means at gathering revenue or managing congestion, they have to be implemented comprehensively (i.e. tolls cannot be avoided by using an alternate route). And even CPI is known to be onboard with congestion pricing, albeit as a replacement revenue source for road construction.

    It’s not going to be torn down and not replaced.

    I think we’re in agreement that this would be a rather dumb idea.

    The only reason it is yet to be fully funded is the persistent refusal to make it the priority for funding that it should be.

    The same can be said of MLR–you frequently assert that its precarious funding state is evidence of the project’s alleged unsuitability and undesirability. But here, you suggest that the tenuous funding for Sellwood is the result of misplaced priorities? I grok that you like one project and not the other, but you’re arguing from both sides of your mouth here. I might suggest that the difficulty of putting together funding packages of public works projects is more likely the result of the difficulty of politics in general, magnified by voter aversion to additional taxes in present times; rather than commentary on the merits of the project.

    Besides. Sellwood was funded into Clackamas County voters decided they didn’t want to chip in. Which is their right–but if they don’t help pay for the project, then their concerns become far less relevant in determining the design. This is the big reason a reboot is practical: a key group of stakeholders have effectively abandoned the project; this is what’s known in project management as a “material change”. While as stated in the lede, I don’t expect overly drastic changes to the project to occur–I expect a new bridge will be built in more or less the same spot–the changes that you seem to be implicitly suggesting (scaling back of the non-auto design elements, such as bike lanes and environmental mitigation) aren’t likely to be the changes which are made.

  20. Jim Lee
    May 29, 2011 at 11:05 am Link

    If Jeff Cogen runs for Mayor he will have to cut the Gordian knot to release the Sellwood albatross from about his neck. (I worked on that mixed metaphor for a while.)

    Over the years that I have been bird-dogging this ill-starred project I have discovered that all roads lead to Mike Pullen, MultCo’s public relations chief. Ask Deborah Kafoury’s office for information and one gets slammed back to MP. Ask the Auditor’s office for cost figures and…ditto. Done both of these twice just to be sure.

    In my salad days in rocket science we joked about airplanes designed by architects. Everyone knows that committees design camels instead of horses. At Sellwood it appears we have a bridge designed by a PR whiz.

    And a whiz he is, no doubt about it. I admire Mike for the brilliance he has brought to fronting the project for ODOT. As Scotty has remarked, it is the “Purpose and Needs Statement” that straightjackets both Sellwood and CRC to what the highway lobby wants to promote. Sellwood has flown under the radar so long because Mike has so competently fashioned its image and suppressed its critics. At the first public meeting he told me to sit down and shut up, most politely, which is nothing compared to what the fine folk of Sellwood have suffered.

    Advice to Jeff Cogen:

    1. Call Mike into your office and sack him, with decent severance pay.

    2. Call Matt Garrett at ODOT’s (temporary) office and tell him to go fly a kite.

    3. Call Ian Cannon and David Goodyear into your office and tell them they have $100 million to replace the bridge at Sellwood.

  21. Steve S.
    May 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm Link

    EngineerScotty,

    “Why don’t any of the constraints to building the Sellwood bridge appear with or apply to Milwaukie Light Rail?

    Design constraints, or financial ones?”

    Take your pick. Any and all constraints. When it comes to MLR there are none.

    Good now we agree.

    It’s not going to be closed to traffic ever.

    It’s not going to be tolled.

    It’s not going to be torn down and not replaced.

    But unfortunately those notions will persist.

    “The only reason it is yet to be fully funded is the persistent refusal to make it the priority for funding that it should be.

    The same can be said of MLR–you frequently assert that its precarious funding state is evidence of the project’s alleged unsuitability and undesirability.”

    That’s a twist. The two primary reasons MLR is not funded is the grotesque cost and because the financing scheme that seeks to avoid voters, fails miserably to identify genuine funding sources for the financing.

    Without any new funding source from any bond measure etc. the pilfering of existing revenue sources has it’s limits.

    But it’s full steam ahead anyway.

    Of course the tenuous funding for Sellwood is the result of misplaced priorities. It’s not a new project like the MLR. It should have and could have been funded and built long ago.

    How can anyone dispute that when the bridge has not even been on JPACT’s radar?

    You have yet to address either that absence or the prioritizing of MLR ahead of the Sellwood bridge and all other infrastructure.

    While I’m not at all arguing from both sides of my mouth you’re dancing away from the realities both projects face.

    There’s been no difficulty with the politics. All the one sided political scheming has failed to put together what they want funded and has diverting funding from what must be funded.

    Your pat excuses like difficulty of politics in general and voter aversion to additional taxes is your denial that the public does not want the MLR based on it’s total lack of merits.

    Why don’t you admit it if you support the avoiding of voters because they are too stupid?

    No the Sellwood was NOT funded. It had a shady financing scheme that had a $20 hole even with the Clackamas County share.

    Clackamas voters overwhelmingly rejected part of the scheme.

    Their design concerns never were and never would be relevant. Claiming that is only the case now is a trumped up reaction.

    There is no chance that any “reboot” with “a key group of stakeholders” will produce anything that is not heavily hindered by the same bias and agenda that approved the current preferred design.

    Even the funding priorities remain off limits.

    The Sellwood bridge is, and was always, moving forward as designed despite all yes campaign lies and the current rhetoric by officials is simply filler while they raid another coffer instead of adapting the design and re-allocating..

    The MLR is also moving forward with ginned up urgency and a much more egregious looking financing scheme that has enormous gaps in actual funding.

    Do you think anyone should be able to vote on any of it?

  22. Aaron Hall
    May 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm Link

    [I]Do you think anyone should be able to vote on any of it?[/I]

    Actually no, if every individual infrastructure project had to go up for a vote, NOTHING would get built. There are always a vocal group of anti-tax activists who will kick and scream and throw tantrums anytime a new project comes along, regardless of the merits of the project. If the interstate highways were subjected to local votes throughout the country, we wouldn’t have an interstate highway system now. People are almost ALWAYS are going to vote against expensive projects, no matter how beneficial they are.

  23. AL M
    May 29, 2011 at 11:59 pm Link

    Actually no, if every individual infrastructure project had to go up for a vote, NOTHING would get built. There are always a vocal group of anti-tax activists who will kick and scream and throw tantrums anytime a new project comes along, regardless of the merits of the project.

    ~~~> There are only two options as far as I am concerned, a resource based economy (Zeitgeist)
    or a true libertarian free market economy without any government (Free Domain Radio), there are no other options.

    The current system is the path to total destruction of humanity.

  24. Bob R.
    May 30, 2011 at 12:43 am Link

    There are only two options

    There are only two kinds of people in this world, those who make bold, sweeping generalizations, and those who don’t.

  25. EngineerScotty
    May 30, 2011 at 7:42 am Link

    There are only 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary arithmetic, and those who don’t.

  26. R A Fontes
    May 30, 2011 at 7:54 am Link

    Your two bits worth, Scotty?

  27. Juke
    May 30, 2011 at 8:38 am Link

    There are only 11 types of people in the world, those who understand binary arithmetic, those who don’t, and those who try to tell the “10 types of people joke” out loud.

  28. EngineerScotty
    May 30, 2011 at 8:45 am Link

    Steve: “Why don’t any of the constraints to building the Sellwood bridge appear with or apply to Milwaukie Light Rail?

    Me: Design constraints, or financial ones?”

    Steve: Take your pick. Any and all constraints. When it comes to MLR there are none.

    Oh, nonsense. The project has already been de-scoped for budgetary reasons in quite a few significant and annoying ways. If you want an example of a project where they really are getting to shake the money tree, look north, not south of downtown.

    Steve: Good now we agree. It’s not going to be closed to traffic ever. It’s not going to be tolled. It’s not going to be torn down and not replaced.

    Me: I agree, but not as absolutes. MCC itself isn’t going to shut down the project. I could see other ways the project bites it, however–Multnomah County voters might decide to reject THEIR proposed tax increase as well, or make it conditional on Clackamas County voters changing its mind. Sam Adams might decided to withdraw the City’s contribution (which, at $100 million, dwarfs the chump change that Clackamas County was going to provide)–or in the alternative, insist on design changes that Clackamas County motorists might not like. Or, the steering committee might just not find agreement on what a de-scoped bridge looks like.

    Actually, I’m surprised that Sam Adams hasn’t made any public maneuvers to further influence the project. Given the city of Portland’s share, he’d be well within his rights to demand a reboot, given that the previous compromise has fallen apart.

    Steve: “The only reason it is yet to be fully funded is the persistent refusal to make it the priority for funding that it should be.

    Me: The same can be said of MLR–you frequently assert that its precarious funding state is evidence of the project’s alleged unsuitability and undesirability.”

    Steve: That’s a twist. The two primary reasons MLR is not funded is the grotesque cost and because the financing scheme that seeks to avoid voters, fails miserably to identify genuine funding sources for the financing.

    I’ll concede that the higher cost makes funding more difficult. The rest of what you have to say is non-sequitur. And “genuine funding sources” have been identified for the vast majority of the project budget.

    Steve: Without any new funding source from any bond measure etc. the pilfering of existing revenue sources has it’s limits.

    An issue which plagues pretty much any public project.

    Steve: Of course the tenuous funding for Sellwood is the result of misplaced priorities. It’s not a new project like the MLR. It should have and could have been funded and built long ago. How can anyone dispute that when the bridge has not even been on JPACT’s radar?

    Let me ask you a question. Suppose there were no bridge crossing the Willamette at Sellwood. You were the local transportation czar, and had $200 million to spend any way you like. Would you put a bridge in that particular spot, or would you find some other way of improving the lot of Clackamas County motorists–such as getting rid of traffic lights on 99E, connecting McLoughlin to I-5 near the Marquam, or improving the Ross Island Bridge?

    Steve: You have yet to address either that absence or the prioritizing of MLR ahead of the Sellwood bridge and all other infrastructure.

    As I don’t sit on JPACT, I can’t adequately address their choices or rationale. Myself, I could think of better ways to spend $200 million than on a two-lane river crossing in that location.

    Steve: While I’m not at all arguing from both sides of my mouth you’re dancing away from the realities both projects face. There’s been no difficulty with the politics. All the one sided political scheming has failed to put together what they want funded and has diverting funding from what must be funded.

    So says you.

    Steve: Your pat excuses like difficulty of politics in general and voter aversion to additional taxes is your denial that the public does not want the MLR based on it’s total lack of merits. Why don’t you admit it if you support the avoiding of voters because they are too stupid?

    I’ll agree that a significant chunk, possibly a majority, of Clackamas County voters probably don’t want to pay for the project; in some cases due to a dislike of public transit; in others due to a simple aversion to additional taxes. “Merits” haven’t much to do with it.

    Steve: No the Sellwood was NOT funded. It had a shady financing scheme that had a $20 hole even with the Clackamas County share.

    Then by your logic, the project is a bad idea, one which “the public does not want based on it’s total lack of merits.” If it had merit, after all, the wise and noble voters of Clackamas County would have embraced it with open arms.

    You, speaking for county voters, seem to want the bridge built. You want it built to your specifications (get rid of the oversize bike lanes), and seem to think that Tacoma Street ought to be widened so it looks like SE Powell, to boot. Yet you don’t want to help pay for it.

    Those who don’t pay the piper, Steve, don’t get to call the tune.

    Steve: Clackamas voters overwhelmingly rejected part of the scheme. Their design concerns never were and never would be relevant. Claiming that is only the case now is a trumped up reaction.
    There is no chance that any “reboot” with “a key group of stakeholders” will produce anything that is not heavily hindered by the same bias and agenda that approved the current preferred design.

    Especially if Clackamas County isn’t at the table.

    I’ll give you a hint. The only way that the bridge YOU want to see built is gonna get built–a highway bridge providing convenient auto access between OR99E and OR43, not necessarily in the same place–is if ODOT gets involved and takes over the project. Neither Multnomah County nor the city of Portland are going to build what you want to see built, plain and simple. The current proposal is a compromise design–one that neither you or I really care much for, it seems. Without Clackamas County dollars, though, the result will likely be even less amenable to Clackamas County motorists.

    Really, Steve, you’re trying to be the tail that wags the dog here.

    Steve: The Sellwood bridge is, and was always, moving forward as designed despite all yes campaign lies and the current rhetoric by officials is simply filler while they raid another coffer instead of adapting the design and re-allocating.

    It will probably move forward, though design changes will happen as a result of Clackamas County voting no. In case you haven’t figured it out, I don’t consider this the most desirable outcome–hence this entire thread.

    Steve: The MLR is also moving forward with ginned up urgency and a much more egregious looking financing scheme that has enormous gaps in actual funding. Do you think anyone should be able to vote on any of it?

    If voters want to vote on it, they have the right to do so. You know that already; and we both expect Clackamas County to have referendums on project-related funding in the future.

    Should every infrastructure project be referred to the voters? Assuming that the voters retain the right of referendum, no. There have been hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars spent on regional highway projects over the past decade–both on maintenance projects and on capacity improvements. The Oregon Legislature, flush with stimulus dollars in 2009 (and a tax increase), fast-tracked a whole pile of highway projects, including the first phase of the Pinot-Casino highway, and various Clackamas County projects like the Jughandle and the Sunrise JTA. Yet I don’t recall any of this highway largesse being put up for a public vote, either. (The tax increase itself was put up for a public vote, and passed–the vote on measures 66 and 67 last year were decoupled from any consideration of what the proceeds would be spent on).

  29. EngineerScotty
    May 30, 2011 at 8:54 am Link

    Taking the arithmetic jokes to their logical extreme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfCJgC2zezw

  30. Jim Lee
    May 30, 2011 at 11:24 am Link

    In the 2008 primary I received 1111 votes for Mayor.

    Base not specified.

  31. Bob R.
    May 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm Link

    I will end this geekery now:

    Two strings walk into a bar. The first string says “I’ll have a beer please.3248has00abnnapfh-90cvknxz##fjklw9-3U329-983THASA!UFGzzx$”. The second string says, “You’ll have to excuse my friend — He’s not null-terminated.”

  32. jimkarlock
    May 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm Link

    Why not make this a demonstration project for the road diet theory.

    Simply remove the bridge and watch the neighborhood improve without all those cars.

    We could do the same for Tacoma st and a couple others in the area and watch a new era of prosperity as the locals prove they don’t need any cars!

    Think of all the money they will save by using transit and bikes to go everywhere!

    Thanks
    JK

  33. Bob R.
    May 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm Link

    watch a new era of prosperity as the locals prove they don’t need any cars!

    False premise. “Road Diet” != Total Removal of Road. “Road Diet” also != getting rid of all cars.

    Similarly, when a person goes on a diet, that doesn’t mean they are cutting off a limb and it doesn’t mean they don’t need any food at all.

    Sheesh.

  34. Steve
    May 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm Link

    Scotty,

    Why do you call an improved 4 lane Sellwood bridge and 5 lane Tacoma boulevard a highway?

    Are all the other 4 lane bridges and lsatreers connecting them highways?

    You can’t imagaine any reason the Sellwood bridge
    has not been on any JPACT list because you’re not on JPACT?
    Wow.

    “Should every infrastructure project be referred to the voters?”

    How is that a response to whether some should?

    Really Scotty, that is so lame.

    Some projects and/or funding certainly should.
    For many reasons.

    The CC comissioners, having gotten a huge dose of opostion, should have put the fee on the ballot themselves instead of forcing citizens to gather signatures.

    There is also huge oppotion to MLR,CRC/light rail and LO streetcar.

    All should be voted on in some fashion.

    The MLR raid on existing revenue streams provides additional reasons.

    But if all of these can’t get any voter approved funding they should not be built.

  35. Bob R.
    May 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm Link

    But if all of these can’t get any voter approved funding they should not be built.

    Sounds like you’re now arguing that the Sellwood replacement shouldn’t be built, and yet you’ve also decried it’s lack of being (your opinion) a priority.

  36. EngineerScotty
    May 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm Link

    A “road diet” refers to removing auto lanes, but not to zero. Tacoma Street already got one of sorts ten years ago, when it went from a four-lane configuration (two full-time travel lanes, two part-time travel, part-time parking lanes) to the current configuration with two travel lanes, bike lanes, the occasionally turning refuge, and full-time parking. I say “of sorts” because most of the pavement is still used for cars (as opposed to being used for transit), but the number of through lanes has been reduced.

    Many streets in Portland have undergone similar conversions, where a four-lane configuration (with no dedicated turn lanes) are replaced with two through lanes accompanied by turning refuges. By getting turning vehicles out of the mainline traffic flow, this configuration actually improves traffic throughput, despite the loss of through lanes. (And by having only one through lane in each direction, it limits if not prevents passing maneuvers which pose significant dangers to pedestrians, and discourages leadfoots who think anything with four lanes is a highway).

    Speaking of which…

    Why do you call an improved 4 lane Sellwood bridge and 5 lane Tacoma boulevard a highway?

    Technically, its not–though the term “highway” legally refers (in Oregon) to a roadway maintained by ODOT, as opposed to a particular traffic configuration. Ignoring the technical definition, and instead using the more commonplace definition of a road designed for higher-speed through traffic–it would be close.

    Certainly, a four-lane configuration would attract more through traffic–its way more capacity than needed to handle neighborhood uses. The bridge and Tacoma Street get 33k crossings per day as is, many of which are non-local trips; and if you make the street more attractive for out-of-area motorists, then you’ll attract more. And as noted above–if you provide two through lanes in each direction, it encourages passing and higher-speed driving (even if the posted speed is 25; many motorists will go significantly faster). Removing on-street parking will also encourage faster speeds, as parked cars have a demonstrated calming effect. A turning refuge or raised median will boost speeds further still. Powell Boulevard has a similar configuration (4-5 lanes, no parking) for much of its length between the Ross Island Bridge and I-205, and traffic moves quite fast on it; it is a major hazard for pedestrians, despite numerous signalized crossings and excellent transit service.

    So yes, a 4-5 lane Tacoma Street feeding to a 4-lane bridge would likely come to resemble a highway. And the configuration which you propose is essentially the same configuration that MLK Jr. (north of Broadway) used to have a decade or so ago. Since then, the raised median has been removed, various traffic calming strategies imposed, and the livability of the neighborhood has vastly improved. I’m not claiming cause-and-effect, as many factors have led to the improvements along NE MLK, but nobody wants to live in close proximity to a road that functions as an expressway.

    As far as what projects “ought to be referred to the voters”; the voters are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves when their elected officials are stepping out of line.

    There is also huge oppotion to MLR,CRC/light rail and LO streetcar.

    There is also huge opposition to CRC/freeway, the Pinot Casino highway, and the Sunrise Corridor.

    But if all of these can’t get any voter approved funding they should not be built.

    Do let me know when they’ll be on the ballot.

  37. Douglas K.
    May 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm Link

    Jumping in late:

    There are only 10 types of people in the world, those who understand trinary, those who don’t, and those who think this is a binary joke.

  38. Steve S.
    May 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm Link

    I donl;t have any problem with any votes

    I’d like to see the Sellwood bridge and Milwaukie Light Rail on the same regionwide ballot and see which one gets the current funding.

    That being Metro flex funds, lottery profits, odot or whatever else is being misspent.

  39. some body
    May 30, 2011 at 9:08 pm Link

    “That being Metro flex funds, lottery profits, odot or whatever else is being misspent.”

    I thought that if those were really road monies, they were required to go to roads? I mean aren’t road users supposed to be paying for roads?

  40. EngineerScotty
    May 30, 2011 at 9:54 pm Link

    Metro flex funds, lottery proceeds, and other appropriations from state and municipal general funds are not dedicated to any particular mode. TriMet payroll taxes, excise taxes on gasoline, and project-specific grants, OTOH, are limited where they can be spent.

  41. Mike Pullen
    May 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm Link

    This blog entry revisits some interesting issues that the Sellwood Bridge project looked at during the planning phase.

    Alternate corridors for a new bridge were studied in Multnomah and Clackamas counties. We checked the findings of Metro’s South Willamette River Crossing Study (1999), which studied possible locations for a new bridge to the south. We came to the same conclusion as the Metro study: the best investment was to repair or replace the Sellwood Bridge, because the transportation infrastructure and land use development are already in place to support a bridge there.

    Keeping the bridge in its current location keeps the cost low compared to other locations.

    As for who should be responsible for the project, Multnomah County owns and maintains the current bridge, so the County ended up with the responsibility to replace it.

    The difficulty in funding the Sellwood project does show that the current funding model for large local agency capital projects is out of date.

  42. EngineerScotty
    May 31, 2011 at 5:46 pm Link

    Thanks, Mike. (Mike works in the public affairs office for Multnomah County). The study Mike refers to is here, and recommends replacing the Sellwood Bridge with a modernized 2-lane crossing in or about the same place, with enhanced pedestrian/bike facilities, and various traffic mitigation strategies around the region–essentially, the current project. The study recommends against:

    * A four-lane bridge
    * Possible alternate crossings in three other locations, including Milwaukie-Dunthorpe, Courtney Road-Lake Oswego, or Concord Road-Marylhurst
    * Closing the Sellwood Bridge to vehicular traffic without replacement.

    That said, I have a few questions–both for Mike, and for the general audience:

    Have planners considered a crossing parallel with Ochoco Street/Golf Junction, possibly using the “Samtrak” right of way–thus permitting traffic to bypass the core of the Sellwood neighborhood, but still within the general corridor (and thus supportive of current regional traffic patterns?)

    And more importantly, has much thought been given to wider east-west movements? Despite the fact that bridge runs east-west, most of the discussion seems to be centered around north-south traffic movements, particularly between Clackamas County and Portland. A big part of that is that there are other geographic and political obstacles to east-west movements besides the river–the West Hills, wildlife refuges along the river north of Sellwood, the Oatfield Ridge, Tyron Creek State Park, exclusive real estate along much of the western shore, and the golf course south of Sellwood–thus, many traffic patterns have oriented themselves in a north/south direction. And there is plenty of N/S infrastructure (I-5, OR99W, OR99E, OR43, surface street, and MLR coming in the future).

    But many E/W corridors converge within the Sellwood Bridge project area–OR224, SE King, SE Johnson Creek, and SE Woodstock/SE Bybee on the east side; SW Beaverton/Hillsdale, SW Multnomah, SW Taylors Ferry and SW Country Club on the west; but through traffic on these is difficult by car or bike, and presently impossible on transit.

    Metro has done some examination of a rapid transit crossing near the vicinity of Lake Oswego, as part of the HCT Plan. But has the river crossing issue been considered in the context of a broader effort to address regional E/W mobility?

  43. EngineerScotty
    May 31, 2011 at 5:53 pm Link

    Further clarification concerning Mike’s role: He is the project spokesman, and operates his own blog on the project here.

  44. Ron Swaren
    May 31, 2011 at 7:09 pm Link

    A big part of that is that there are other geographic and political obstacles to east-west movements besides the river-……………..But many E/W corridors converge within the Sellwood Bridge project area–OR224, SE King, SE Johnson Creek, and SE Woodstock/SE Bybee on the east side; SW Beaverton/Hillsdale, SW Multnomah, SW Taylors Ferry and SW Country Club on the west;

    The least number of natural obstacles to E/W movement would also be in the Oak Grove-Lake Oswego area, although this is not in Multnomah County and would not be in Pullen’s bailiwick. And this is also where several routes converge: McVey Ave., Terwiliger Extension, A Ave. to Boones Fy. Rd. and Hwy 43 north and south. On the east side, via Oak Grove Bv., you can tie in to a number of routes. The distance across the Willamette is also very short. I am dismayed that this route was not considered further in the 1999 study.

    In every respect, whatever your chosen mode of transport, it makes sense and would significantly reduce the VMT of a number of trips. There would likely also be a positive economic effect to both communities. METRO should be looking into this.

  45. R A Fontes
    May 31, 2011 at 9:18 pm Link

    Milwaukie to Lake Oswego, as part of a Clackamas to Tigard/Tualatin route, is still in the HCT plan, but not at the highest priority. All is not lost.

  46. Steve S.
    June 1, 2011 at 8:19 am Link

    “The difficulty in funding the Sellwood project does show that the current funding model for large local agency capital projects is out of date.”

    I disagree. We have regional, state and federal revenue streams that are available for these projects. The only thing missing is the proper priorities.
    The Sellwood bridge has been a stepchild to the Transit Mall, MAX Green Line, Interstate MAX, Milwaukie Light Rail and other choices.

    “The study recommends against:
    * A four-lane bridge

    That study relies upon the flawed and biased travel forecasting by none other than the even more biased Lynn Peterson.
    Her work at Metro is what ginned up the whole Sellwood bridge use by Clackamas County dispute, called for the 2 lane bridge and Milwaukie Light Rail for the McLoughlin corridor.
    A case of a study crafted to fit a predetermined outcome if there ever was one.

  47. Jim Lee
    June 1, 2011 at 9:39 am Link

    I do not want this to become an ad hominem on Mike Pullen, who is a genuinely nice guy and very competent in his field, which is public relations. I almost feel sorry for his being placed in an impossible position by the powers that be.

    He is much more than just the “…project spokesman…” Scotty, as I adverted in a previous post here. Perhaps, if the Sellwood soap opera were on TV, he would be called the “show runner.” The project has been structured so that no public concern can get past him: the “bomb shelter” theory.

    In contrast, TriMet structured its bridge project about a completely open committee under Vera Katz. She required everyone attending to identify themselves and state their interest. Rob Barnard, an architect with TriMet, represented his agency; Seymon Tregyr, TriMet’s engineering consultant, would address any technical concerns. Any request for information received prompt response.

    Remember when the first proposal, the “wave-frame” design, was being promoted? From my knowledge of the theory of structures I saw that something about it was fishy, so I asked Rob if any technical information was available; next morning the initial design study was in my email in box–in German and metric engineering units. A few days of calculations revealed that it was overweight by a factor of three, barely capable of supporting its own weight. At a subsequent meeting Vera gave me ten minutes to explain that. Seymon later confirmed to me that the wave-frame could not have been built.

    Such openness was impossible with Multnomah County for the project at Sellwood. After months of asking for a single technical number, the weight of the proposed design per foot of span, I was granted an interview with Ian Cannon, the county’s bridge engineer, with Mike and Maria Rojo deSteffy’s chief of staff sitting in. We all talked past each other. They did not give me the number. Three years later I still do not have the number. My reason was simple: I wanted to compare their design with one recommended by David Goodyear in a technical paper on bridges for the conditions obtaining at Sellwood.

    Cannon and Goodyear are the engineering brains for Sellwood. Goodyear is the finest bridge engineer in this country, but he is completely shielded from access to the public. If HE were to represent the project to us I believe that the miasma wafting over all aspects of the project would dissipate. But it is apparent that the powers at ODOT/MultCo/PDX, with their personal agenda, will not let the ultimate professional, whom we are most fortunate to have, do his job properly.

    Mike Pullen is no substitute for David Goodyear. Given the travails of replacing the bridge a Sellwood Mike is not doing his career any favors by being associated with it.

  48. Steve S.
    June 1, 2011 at 10:19 am Link

    Along those same lines is the absense of cost added width.

    I suspect the 37 feet for ped bike traffic is an outrageous and unecesary expense yet to be available or reported.

    Exactly how much would the bridge cost be if that ped/bike width were cut in half?
    Knocking off 18.5 feet of bridge width from the 61 total width has to mean many 10s of millions.

    $50-60 million?

  49. Bob R.
    June 1, 2011 at 10:48 am Link

    Personally I’m OK with a narrower bridge, as I suspect are a lot of people in Portland / Multnomah County.

    But that would create a small deck which would forever preclude the desire of some to have 4 lanes for automobiles, which I though was something us overreaching enviro-types would support, so I’m surprised that Steve supports a narrower Sellwood bridge as well.

    Strange bedfellows.

  50. EngineerScotty
    June 1, 2011 at 10:53 am Link

    There is no chance that any “reboot” with “a key group of stakeholders” will produce anything that is not heavily hindered by the same bias and agenda that approved the current preferred design.

    That study relies upon the flawed and biased travel forecasting by none other than the even more biased Lynn Peterson.

    A case of a study crafted to fit a predetermined outcome if there ever was one.

    I especially reject the idea that [Cascade Policy Institute] has any bias or agenda.

    It’s bias and agenda that led to the preferred design of the replacement bridge. Sacrificing common sense entirely.

    The expansive Lake Oswego Streetcar opposition is not agenda or bias driven.
    Neither is the CRC/Light Rail opposition.

    Of course CPI is not without preferences and leanings but they are essentially objective in their research and reports. I think you may be so accustomed to what the grossly biased TriMet produces that you have difficulty recognizing their CPI’s objectivity.

    The current plan ignores everything, worsens the choke points, worsens the overflow, and keeps Tacoma (which needs a bulldozer) as an eye sore in perpetuity. This is tremendous example of a heavily biased agenda.

    Now that’s severe bias at work.

    Steve, Steve, Steve. Please–nay, pretty please. With sugar on top. Can you find it within yourself to deploy a more substantive line of argument than “pro-transit authorities are all biased; pro-highway ones are infallable and objective” as a response to every fracking thing?

    Its the online equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and telling us that “I can’t HEAR you!”

    There are substantive arguments to be made in support of the pro-automobile position. I’ve seen plenty of them, especially on other blogs. Even JK regularly attempts to ground his arguments in substance.

    But with you, it’s as if the superiority of the automobile is manifest and pre-ordained, and the actual merits of transit need no discussion. Cars are good and trains are bad and all else flows from these fundamental axioms–and all that’s left is to point which officials and commentators have strayed from the one true path.

    For the sake of your own credibility, I implore you–quit making arguments whose central tenet is painting transit supporters as “biased”. It’s a really dumb argument, coming from someone who is a fairly well-known political activist. Plus, it makes you look bad–Matthew 7:1-5 and all that.

  51. Dave H
    June 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm Link

    I’ll start this off by mentioning I’ve recently relocated to Sellwood. I’ve only been here for a few weeks regularly, but the traffic I see at 5:30 PM on Tacoma St is just driving through. Some people stop at New Seasons, but other than that it doesn’t seem like many commuters actually spend any money here.

    I have a hard time believing that many people really use it for anything other than getting home a tiny bit faster. For the price, since there’s no financing in place and Clackamas voters just said they don’t want a replacement I’m fine with making it bikes/pedestrians only until we find a way to build something we can afford.

    If it’s going to be replaced, how about a cheaper connection closer in design to the one for US-30 at the St. Johns Bridge? Why do we need more than 12 foot lanes and a twelve or fifteen foot pedestrian deck?

  52. ws
    June 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm Link

    Am I crazy to think that automobiles and transit can coexist, and in fact can coexist very well together? I’m a fan of all modes of transportation.

    Personally, I think those at the helm of both end of the spectrum really don’t care much about transportation or mobility, it’s more about the advancement of their mode and nothing more.

  53. Douglas K.
    June 4, 2011 at 6:01 am Link

    Why do we need more than 12 foot lanes and a twelve or fifteen foot pedestrian deck?

    Because a sensibly-scaled bridge couldn’t be expanded to four lanes in the future. Building the new bridge as an actual two-lane bridge would save money today with a narrow bridge, and tomorrow by preventing future expansion projects.

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