$5 to save the Sellwood Bridge

By Gerik Kransky of Portland, Oregon. Gerik is the advocacy director for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. In 2006, he contributed "It ain't just about picking up trash"

Is the Sellwood Bridge is going to fall into the Willamette River? According to Multnomah County’s website, sellwoodbridge.org:

The I-35 bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis had a sufficiency rating of 50 while the Sellwood Bridge has a sufficiency rating of only 2 on a scale of 100.

That’s bad. We don’t know if the bridge will fall into the Willamette River, but we do know the bridge is not sufficient, it’s not safe, and it’s not accessible for people walking and biking. According to this video with former Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, we have some serious challenges associated with replacing the deficient bridge. Smartly, we have decided to replace the bridge before it becomes a catastrophe like I-35.

So what’s standing in our way? Well, about five dollars. Clackamas County has proposed a $5 per year vehicle registration fee to help fund their share of the bridge (about 7% of the total cost) but there is a group of anti-tax activists that thinks $5 a year is too much to spend on a new bridge.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) supports the idea that local residents should help pay to improve safety and accessibility of this ailing bridge. Right now the bridge is practically inaccessible to people on bikes. Riding on the narrow sidewalk is very difficult (not to mention illegal) and the busy traffic lanes are too narrow to allow cars to pass bikes safely. The closest alternative route is more than three miles away. As one of only two local connections across the Willlamette River for Clackamas County, the bridge is an important connection for all local residents – not just bicyclists – and we believe $5 per year is a small price for a safer, better bridge.

So what is the solution? Send an email right now. Do it. It will open up an email ready for you to send to Clackamas County’s Board of Commissioners in support of their vote for a new five-dollar vehicle registration fee to fund the bridge.

In one hand we have a five-dollar bill. In the other, an aging and potentially failing bridge. The choice is clear. Don’t let a vocal group of anti-tax residents speak on your behalf when they claim that safety and accessibility are not priorities for Clackamas County residents.

Take time to attend this week’s public hearing and tell the Commissioners that five dollars is a good price for a new bridge. The hearing on is December 8th at 5:30 pm at the Clackamas County Public Services Building (2051 Kaen Road, Oregon City). The Clackamas Commissioners will vote on the proposal on December 9, at 10:00 am. Show up at either event and ask them to please vote yes.

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    Can we stop trying to improve the lives of Clackamas residents and let them live in the Ayn Rand wasteland they all hope to bring about through their perennial anti-tax nonsense.

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    Absence makes the heart grow fonder- why not close the bridge until Clackamas drivers come around?

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    I understand that people who walk or bike to work make the city a better place. But are any of the funds for the new bridge coming from bikers that use the bridge? It looks like all the funding is from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of Clackamas County residents who don't use the bridge, but they will all pay the extra $5. So it seems fair that maybe bikers who use the bridge could find a way to chip in on the costs. Maybe send in a petition to County and attach $5 for each of the signators.

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    Rob, so you are contending if a person owns a bicycle they don't own an auto. I think that is a terribly generalized assumption at best. Finally, as a resident of Clackamas county let me assure our neighbors and friends to the north that a loud sub group of Clackamas residents who are supporters of Americans for Prosperity are my no means a majority. Yes, they are loud and obnoxious but not a majority!

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