In late 2020 and early 2021, we asked for your thoughts on the recommended Preferred Alternative plan. With the recommendation from the Community Task Force and over 88 percent support from a community survey and robust engagement process, the Replacement Long Span was identified as the best option to move forward since it is best for seismic resiliency, has the lowest cost, and least environmental impacts. Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners approved the Replacement Long Span in October 2020.
In spring 2021, additional engineering and cost estimating work raised concerns among County leaders about the project’s cost. 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, County leaders asked the project team to analyze ways to reduce the cost so 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, including:
- 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.
- High level of support and preference for the bascule movable span over the lift option to preserve views and save cost.
- General support for the Girder bridge type on the west approach to preserve views of historic downtown and save cost.
- Mix of support, neutral support and no support for the reduced 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 people expressed concern about traffic, safety and emergency response with the lane reduction. Some 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, they wanted to express their desire and preference for the wider bridge should funding be available, citing the following reasons:
- Maintaining a fifth lane to minimize traffic impacts
- Having more space for bike/ped facilities
- Having more space for emergency response needs following the earthquake
On March 3, 2022 the project’s Policy Group recommended the package of three cost-saving measures move forward.
On March 17, 2022, the Board of County Commissioners approved the three cost-saving refinements to the Preferred Alternative.
On April 29, 2022, a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) documenting the findings of the Preferred Alternative refinements was published for public review along with 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.