In late 2020 and early 2021, Multnomah County asked the community for input on the recommended Preferred Alternative. The project team conducted a community survey and robust engagement process. More than 88 percent of those surveyed supported the Replacement Long Span. The Community Task Force expressed its support for that option as well. The Replacement Long Span was identified as the best option for its seismic resiliency, lowest cost, and least environmental impacts. The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners approved the Replacement Long Span in October 2020.
In spring 2021, Multnomah County leaders raised concerns about the project's costs. Recognizing rising costs due to current economic conditions, failure of the Regional Transportation Bond Measure and competition for funds from other large projects in the region, Multnomah County leaders asked the project team to analyze ways to reduce the cost to ensure the project is more likely to be funded and built. After further cost analysis, environmental and permitting analysis and input from stakeholders the project team identified three key cost-saving refinements to the Preferred Alternative for the community to consider:
- Bascule bridge type for the movable span ($25-$35M)
- Refined Girder bridge type for the west approach ($20-$40M savings)
- Reduced bridge width, including the removal of a vehicle lane ($140-$165M savings)
Thank you to all who weighed in on the Preferred Alternative Refinements during the public comment period in late 2021.
A comprehensive summary of community outreach and input.
- The community expressed a high level of support and preference for the bascule movable span over the lift option to preserve views and save costs.
- There was general support for the Girder bridge type on the west approach to preserve views of historic downtown and save costs.
- There was mixed support for reducing the bridge width. People who supported the reduced width cited the importance of cost savings to ensure a resilient Burnside Bridge can be funded and built. Some expressed concerns about traffic, safety and emergency response with the lane reduction. Some expressed interest in preserving bike/ped spaces, with other suggestions to reduce it in favor of retaining a fifth vehicle lane.
On January 24, 2022, the Community Task Force met and endorsed the refinements. While the CTF supported the recommendations moving forward, the group wanted to express its desire and preference for the wider bridge if funding is available. The CTF cited these reasons for a wider bridge:
- Maintaining a fifth lane would help minimize traffic impacts.
- The wider bridge would allow more space for bike/ped facilities.
- The wider bridge would allow more space for emergency response needs following the earthquake.
On March 3, 2022 the project’s Policy Group recommended those three cost-saving measures to move forward with the project.
On March 17, 2022, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners approved the three cost-saving refinements to the Preferred Alternative.
On April 29, 2022, the project team published a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) which documents the findings of the Preferred Alternative refinements. The SDEIS was published for public review during a 45-day comment period. The SDEIS is a formal document required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is overseen by the Federal Highway Administration.