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West side finally has a voice at City Hall

On the Town

Let me be the first to congratulate city Commissioner Sam Adams for pushing through that $5.5 million bike and pedestrian bridge that would link the West Hills and the Pearl District.

It's not often those two neighborhoods get the sort of attention they deserve down at City Hall, so this is a special moment indeed.

At last, a politician has come along to speak for them and champion their causes - which, in this particular instance, obviously includes a bridge where Northwest Flanders Street meets Interstate 405.

Never mind, of course, that Adams' bridge - which he's planning to lug from its present location at Sauvie Island and plop down over I-405 - will end up costing about $1.5 million more than a reasonable alternative.

Never mind, either, that the bridge isn't needed in the first place. There are already quite usable bridges across I-405 at Everett and Glisan, a block north and south of the one that's being proposed.

Clearly, as Adams seems to be saying, there's something more important here than mere monetary considerations:

After all these years of neglect, we've got a chance to show these folks - and, of course, the real estate developers who're behind the bridge project as well - that we still care about them.

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The word at City Hall is that Adams finally has put together the three votes he needs to get his bridge proposal through the City Council.

Probably, the ideal time to bring the measure up again will be in a week or so when Mayor Tom Potter is away on a sister-city trip to China.

As you may recall, Potter was one of the two votes against the bridge when it came up last week. The way he saw it, the money could be much better spent on sidewalks in the Northeast Portland neighborhood of Cully.

For Potter, who obviously hasn't spent enough time talking to Adams and the pro-bridge crowd from Northwest, it seemed more important to build sidewalks so the children there wouldn't have to walk to school in the streets.

It was, in fact, just one of the projects on the city transportation office's own to-do list of safety upgrades for the city.

Another, if you're into bikes, is a bike boulevard out on at Northeast Killingsworth. Or if it's walking that turns you on, there's a pedestrian overpass at 122nd Avenue and Southeast Morrison Street on the list.

Needless to say, the rest of the council was unwilling to support such extravagances in these particular neighborhoods.

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The other vote against the bridge project was cast by Commissioner Dan Saltzman. As Saltzman explained at the time, he couldn't in good conscience vote for a $5.5 million sole-source contract.

Well, it's still a sole-source contract - but, as Saltzman's office confirms, he's decided to change his vote, thereby giving Adams a majority when this comes up again.

Just why Saltzman is switching sides, no one seems sure. Some City Hall sources suggest he may even have done some horse-trading with Adams, who apparently considers the bridge some sort of personal monument.

My guess, though, is that Adams just sat down with Saltzman, as he must have already with Randy Leonard, and appealed to his sense of fair play for the poor folks in the West Hills and the Pearl District.

After all, isn't it about time they get their turn?

Contact Phil Stanford by phone, 503-546-5166, or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .