Clackamas County is considering building a new bridge solely for pedestrians and cyclists to connect the riverside communities of Oak Grove and Lake Oswego.
Currently, those in the area who want to cross the Willamette River by foot or by bike have to make a 5-mile trek. The nearest junctions are Portland’s Sellwood Bridge to the north and Oregon City’s “Arch” Bridge to the south.
“These locations are important, highly dense communities that we felt would naturally need to be connected,” said Stephen Williams, the county’s principal transportation planner who is overseeing the project.
Williams said the county has zoned in on a half-mile area midway between the two bridges, where they’ve identified 10 possible alignments for the bridge. In Oak Grove, they’re looking at an area stretching from Rivervilla Park to the Oak Grove boat ramp. In Lake Oswego, the zone stretches from Tryon Creek Park to just south of Roehr Park.
All alignments would connect with existing bike and pedestrian routes, while allowing boats to navigate below.
A survey offered by the county earlier this year showed few would rely on the bridge for day-to-day use. Of the survey’s roughly 540 respondents, only 3% said they’d use the bridge every day. A third said they’d use it a few times per month. Another third said they’d never go on it.
Williams stressed not to read too much into their non-scientific survey.
“Although we had a fair number of responses, we don’t really think those are valid for the population of the two communities,” Williams said.
While the bridge is intended partially for commuters, Williams predicts that, if built, it would become a hotspot for Portlanders looking for a panoramic view of the city.
Oregon Metro is now funding a study to determine construction costs, which Williams said should wrap up next month. A public meeting will be held soon after, where the county will showcase designs for three potential bridge locations.