Tualatin River bridge will link cities

People will soon be able to walk and bicycle over the water between Tigard, Tualatin and Durham
by: Jaime Valdez, VIEW OF A BRIDGE — The view from Tualatin Community Park shows how fast construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge is occurring over the Tualatin River.

Birds that call the Tualatin River home must be curious about the behemoth now under construction between Tualatin and Durham.

Birds can fly over the river, but people need bridges or boats, so by the end of this year, joggers, bicyclists and just plain walkers will be able to cross the Tualatin River over a new bike/pedestrian bridge.

'Construction is well underway,' Tualatin Community Services Director Paul Hennon told the Tigard City Council recently. 'The bridge will connect the north end of Tualatin Community Park with the south end of Durham City Park and also (Tigard's) Cook Park via a trail. All the materials are available, and the project is on schedule. The grand opening will be sometime in 2007.'

Hennon showed the council some photos he had taken recently of the construction site near the Portland and Western Railroad bridge, which some people use to cross the river despite the danger of meeting up with an oncoming train.

The Oregon Department of Transportation awarded the contract to build the bridge to Capital Concrete Construction Inc. in April.

A temporary platform has been constructed over the river from which a crane used to build the bridge is stationed.

While the route across the river is straight, the path to the completed project has taken a few twists and turns.

It has been in the works for several years, and for a while, funding was an issue. But the partners in the process - the cities of Tualatin, Tigard and Durham, plus the state, utilizing federal funds, and Clean Water Services - have worked cooperatively together to keep the project on target.

The $2.9 million project is partially federally funded, with the state contributing nearly $1.3 million, Tigard paying $593,000, Tualatin contributing $412,000 and Durham paying nearly $26,000.

Tualatin is providing the administrative management for the project, and all the partners welcomed Clean Water Services coming on board.

The agency asked to buy into the project so its water pipes could be hung from the bridge, and it is contributing $600,000.

The addition of CWS to the project lowered all the other partners' contributions, which in times of tight budgets was a welcome bonus.

Tigard City Engineer Gus Duenas told the council that the city's trail to the bridge had to be realigned, which eliminated steps to the bridge as well as a double-back section. The concrete trail, which will be 1,400 feet long and 8 feet wide, will cost nearly $100,000.

According to Hennon, the trail will ultimately connect to the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge southwest of Tigard off Pacific Highway.

'I'm looking forward to the grand opening and riding my bike across the bridge,' said Mayor Craig Dirksen. 'But I'll have to go buy a bike.

'The bridge will link all three city parks together and connect what are probably the largest greenspace recreation areas in the southwest Portland area.'