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Sellwood Bridge committee has last meeting

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - The Sellwood Bridge CAC members meet for one final time, at SMILE Station at S.E. 13th at Tenino Street, on February 11th.The remaining members of the Sellwood Bridge Project Community Advisory Committee (CAC) convened for the final time at SMILE Station on Monday evening, February 11.

The committee’s work began on June 26, 2006, at the Sellwood Baptist Church, when the first Community Task Force – the group that became the CAC – met to kick off the process of designing a replacement to the Sellwood Bridge.

The CAC ended its work with seven of the original twenty members still participating, more than six years later.

Multnomah County Sellwood Bridge Replacement Project Program Manager Ian Cannon gave THE BEE a brief update on the project, from his own standpoint, before the meeting got underway.

“The bridge move went well,” Cannon commented. “This positioned us to get into the actual construction of the [replacement bridge] project. The west side landslide stabilization project is still underway; we expect it to conclude within the next few months. Then, we’ll be starting on retaining walls on the west side.”

After the concrete bridge piers which formerly supported the Sellwood Bridge are removed, the project will be starting in-river foundation work this spring, he added. “Some of the work we’re expecting to do is very low-impact in the river, which is why it can be done outside the ‘in-water work window’.”

Instead of being served the usual pizza supper, CAC members were treated to a Thai food banquet for their last gathering, before Vaughn Brown of JLA Public Involvement brought the meeting to order.

Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury thanked the committee members for their years of volunteer service to advance the project.

“The citizen advisory committee for the Sellwood Bridge project succeeded where many other task forces have not,” Kafoury said.

“These volunteers worked together, despite different points of view, to find consensus and make the best decisions they could for their community as a whole. They deserve our thanks for their collective wisdom, leadership, and their ability to come together to find a solution to a decades-old problem.”

With no public comment period this time, Brown asked CAC members if they themselves had any questions or comments.

Sellwood representative Heather Koch asked about the proposed traffic signals to be installed at S.E. Tacoma at 6th Avenue – specifically wondering about this part of the project not yet being “under contract”. She also expressed concerns about the red/green timing of that signal.

“We're working with city representatives, the county and SMILE”, Cannon replied.

Another issue Koch brought up was that the reduction of funding coming from the City of Portland, based on a modified Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) approved in December, would also reduce the amount of funding available for public art.

That’s because, under the new IGA, the city’s contribution is capped at $86 million, reduced from $100 million – and the Sellwood Bridge Public Art Project is being funded using the “2% for Art” formula based on the city’s contribution. Therefore, the amount available would be lower.

“We have yet to see the exact impact, but hopefully it won't be a significant cut, and the public art will be able successfully to adjust [to the reduced amount of funding],” Koch later remarked to THE BEE.