New Effort Emerges to Save Willamette River Bike/Ped Bridge between Lake Oswego and Oak Grove

A new community-led coalition is attempting to preserve support for a proposed bike/pedestrian Willamette River crossing between Lake Oswego and Oak Grove, in advance of a critical vote on the project that is expected Friday.

The project, which would be built in a 10-mile stretch of the Willamette that currently has no river crossing, has been on Clackamas County’s Transportation System Plan since 2013.

But in a hearing last week, commissioners said public support has soured in the wake of an attempt by Metro to introduce light rail to the project, which would double its cost and bring new motor vehicle traffic that local residents didn’t want. Commissioners also voiced concerns that the bridge could jeopardize funding for other transportation projects they value more highly.

The Oak Grove/Lake Oswego bridge is at a critical juncture as the policy committee heading up the project is scheduled to meet Friday and determine whether its future is viable enough to pursue.

The committee is made up of one elected official from each of the four jurisdictions involved: Commissioner Paul Savas (Clackamas County), Councilor Jackie Manz (Lake Oswego), Mayor Mark Gamba (Milwaukie) and Councilor Christine Lewis (Metro).

Following last week’s hearing, and a thorough write-up on the meeting by the popular independent media outlet BikePortland, a new effort to save the OGLO bridge has emerged.

They call themselves the Willamette River Crossing Coalition and say the bridge “will support healthier lifestyles, a healthier environment and provide important transport choices for emergency and fire vehicles.”

“A new crossing creates a transportation connection for the future that reduces commute times for workers, supports safer routes for walking and bicycling and provides important connections for emergency vehicles between the east and west sides of the river,” they say on their website. “Together, we can make our communities safer and healthier, mitigate congestion, provide new economic opportunities and take action on climate change.”

An active petition on their website is soliciting input to present to the policy committee at Friday’s meeting. The committee is scheduled to meet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, in room 115 of the county Development Services Building, 150 Beavercreek Road in Oregon City.

For more information about the new group, visit willametterivercrossingcoalition.com. For the county’s website on the project, see clackamas.us/transportation/oglo.

Photo from the Willamette River Crossing Coalition website.

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