The historic Oregon City/West Linn Arch Bridge spanning the Willamette River has been a source of community pride since its opening in December 1922. After more than 85 years, this famous old bridge is in need of repairs.
This work includes repair and replacement of the deck, joints, lighting, and protective coatings. For safety, the narrow bridge must be closed for approximately two years. Vehicles will detour over the nearby I-205 Abernethy Bridge. Due to safety concerns in the crowded work zone, the current plan is to close access to bicycles and pedestrians throughout the construction period. Free shuttle services will be provided with schedules and routes yet to be determined. Other options are still being investigated.
Work on the bridge will begin sometime late in 2009 and is expected to be completed in 2012.
What does Clackamas County Have to Say about the Situation?
Clackamas County has been working with ODOT regarding the upcoming closure of the Arch Bridge. The historic bridge designed by Conde B. McCollough was first opened in 1922 and is a historically significant bridge. The bridge is in dire need of major maintenance and rehabilitation work which will start later this year. Because of the extent of the work to be done, full closure of the bridge is necessary for approximately two years. Public agency groups discussing the bridge work has included ODOT, the Cities of Oregon City and West Linn, Clackamas County and TriMet. The big challenge that we have been discussing is pedestrian and bicycle access across the bridge and how to provide access during the two year construction time period. Cyclists have concerns about how they will get across the river. Our partners have done quite a bit of brainstorming and, thus far, the best option seems to be using TriMet buses with possible supplemental shuttles at certain times of the day to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle demand. During recent meetings, discussions have been around getting outreach to the cycling community to both make them aware of the project and get their ideas/feedback on the current proposal to address bicycle and pedestrian access. The organization, BikePortland, has an article on their web page to get public outreach going.
April 21, 2009 Arch Bridge Meeting
A public agency meeting was held to discuss the Arch Bridge closure with representatives from ODOT, Clackamas County, Oregon City and West Linn. This summary is largely focused on bicycle and pedestrian issues on and near the bridge during construction. ODOT summarized the needed work and updates to the bridge work. Changes to the rehabilitation efforts include full removal of the gunnite covering on the arch above and below water line. This will necessitate the use of barges in the river anchored to the bank. Gunnite removal will be accomplished using high pressure water jets. This method was verified recently at a test location on the bridge. Also new is the need to remove railings and sidewalk over Highway 99E. In order to accomplish this work along with the gunnite removal, most of the parking along the Oregon City side of the river will need to be eliminated for up to six months and the two access roads next to the bridge between Main Street and Highway 99E will also need to be closed. ODOT was provided information about the garbage provider to discuss garbage access to local buildings. In addition, there will be parking removed for the work as well. ODOT will be getting property contacts from Oregon City.
This work will also require the elimination of the at grade signalized crossing across Highway 99E for the duration of the work. ODOT will be making an effort to make the people that fish in this area aware of the changes. Bicycle, pedestrian and auto traffic will be eliminated from the bridge during the work. ODOT does not believe that it is safe or cost effective to allow any bicycle or pedestrian access due to the constrained work environment and the level of work that needs to be done to the bridge. They are still proposing that cyclists and pedestrians get across the Willamette River using TriMet and some other sort of shuttle system, not yet defined. We discussed other options such as a temp pedestrian/bike bridge (too expensive), possible local ferry, service from under the Abernethy Bridge to the transient boat dock just down river (too long, many logistical issues such as permits, safety and access on the West Linn side). Also discussed at length was the possibility of placing a GM barrier along 1-205 in each direction and to create a separate path for bicycles.
There is concern about this due to the already constrained conditions across the Abernethy Bridge for motorized vehicles. Lane narrowing would be required. We discussed doing some outreach to the cycling community using BikePortland.org.
BikePortland.org, ODOT, and Oregon City are expected to work together to address concerns from the bicycle community. There was also discussion about whether TriMet will be allowed to resume operations across the bridge once the work is completed. Dialog on this matter needs to occur with TriMet.