Lars Larson on Bridges Falling Down

Hey, here’s a crazy idea. How about we just close all the bridges in Oregon that are failing instead of actually fixing them?

I know, a lot of crazy ideas come out of Multnomah County. It is the home of liberals in Oregon. But, here’s one of the craziest ones I’ve ever seen. A Multnomah County Commissioner who’s decided she will no longer drive across a bridge known as the Sellwood Bridge. It goes from one of the fanciest neighborhoods in Portland to another of the fanciest neighborhoods in Portland and it carries about 30,000 travelers every single day.

The problem is, it’s busted down, in fact, it is rated as a “2”. It’s a bridge in very bad shape. This County Commissioner said since we can’t find the money to fix it because we’re spending most of it on Light Rail and crazy other things, why don’t we just close the bridge altogether.

Hey, let’s apply that to the rest of the state. Let’s just take most of the failing bridges in Oregon and just close them down. Let’s see how that works out for the taxpayers who have already paid the bill.

“For more Lars click here”

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 09:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 21 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post

    I hope they do close it, I’ve seen so much money wasted on light rail, trolleys, trams and downtown urban renewal, that I’m sick of anything associated with downtown.

    70% of the bridge travelers aren’t even Mult. county residents.

  • Liberal reasoning

    Using liberal logic, let us close down government because it is crumbling, broken down and dangerous.

  • Anonymous

    “70% of the bridge travelers aren’t even Mult. county residents.”

    99.9% of the Stat ewill never use or benefit from the upcoming Milwaukie light rail and bridge next the Sellwood Bridge.
    Yet the Oregon Legislature decided to spend $250 million in lottery backed bonds for this light rail expansion.

    We’ll soon be witnessing the construction of a new light rail bridge while the traffic bridge next door falls down.
    Next to close? The Ross Island bridge.

  • RinoWatch

    Rojo is a Yo-Yo. Let her swim….

  • Joanne Rigutto

    I grew up in that part of SE Portland, and am very familiar with the Sellwood bridge. That bridge has been in bad shape for as long as I can remember. I’m 45, so that’s been a while.

    One of the reasons I’ll never go back to Portland to live is the deplorable way that Portland and Multnomah county take care of the various infrastructure components under their respective jurisdictions. It’s outrageous that Multnomah county has let the Sellwood bridge get to this point. Irregardless of how many Multnomah county residents and people not living in Multnomah county use the bridge, that bridge serves a significant portion of the city and the area between it and the 205 bridge in Oregon City, their residents and businesses. As much as Portland and Multnomah county would like to pretend that light rail can fix all the transportation and congestion woes of the area, “It ain’t gonna happen”. People like my father, who lives in that part of town, will continue to use their cars to get around. Those people and others use the Sellwood bridge because it provides a route across the river that is closest to where they want to go. Close the Sellwood bridge and don’t replace it with another bridge to carry passenger and commercial vehicles and that load will be shunted over onto the Ross Island bridge to the north and the 205 bridge in Oregon City to the south. That retouting will add thousands of miles per year of extra vehicular traffic in the Portland Metro area.

    Is that really what Maria Rojo de Steffey wants? Because that’s what she’s going to get….

  • Jerry

    She doesn’t care what happens – it doesn’t effect her. Typical lib nonsense.

  • devietro

    The bridge has massive issues and it should have been fixed 10yrs ago or more. But in true government style they waited and waited and now we have a mess. I would just like to say that for what the tram cost we could have had 1/2 a new sellwood bridge. (Tram cost 157million, they estimate 400million for a new bridge)

  • dean

    “True government style” is inadequate funding for infrastructure across the board, which is why projects are on long waiting lists. one month’s funding of the Iraq war would go a long way to start repairing and expanding infrastructure in the United States.

    Interelated issues. If you rebuild the Sellwood Bridge as a 4 lane you negatively impact the Sellwood neighborhood AND overload Macadam Avenue. If you rebuild it as 2 lanes you do nothing to improve traffic unless you build the Milwaukee light rail line. And without more money overall going into transportation infrastructure regionally AND nationally we just fall further into gridlock, regardless if our spending is on transit or highways or both.

    • Joanne Rigutto

      Dean, I’d like to know how much of the traffic using the Sellwood bridge is going to any point on the Milwaukie light rail line. Rebuilding the Sellwood bridge as a two lane bridge will allow it to handle the same ammount of traffic that it does now, as well as the heavy traffic that was restricted due to the poor condition of the bridge. People from the Sellwood/Moreland neighborhood that use the bridge now aren’t going to Milwaukie, they’re going the other way. I doubt that many people using the Sellwood bridge to get from the west side of the river to the east side are going to Milwaukie. I wonder, if one were to use the bus and then light rail from, say, Lake Oswego, how long it would take to go from there to any point of the Milwaukie light rail line vs. how long it would take to drive there, even in congestion.

      There is a real need for vehicular traffic to be able to cross the river at the point of the Sellwood bridge. No ammount of light rail in Milwaukie, or even a line crossing the river at that point, will be able to replace the use of private and commercial vehicles. At best it would replace some riders using the bus and a very small percent who are currently driving. The vast majority who are currently driving will continue to do so and you’ll just shunt the load onto the other bridges/roads and add driving miles to everyone’s trip by elimnating a crossing point that was closer to where they want to go.

      The only ways to reduce or eliminate gridlock is to increase the transportation infrastructure such that it can handle the increase in private and commercial transportation needs sufficiently to handle the projected increase in growth in the area or you can eliminate the growth in the area in the first place, neither of which the government is willing to do or even able to do.

      As a side note, the Sellwood bridge exists for the sole purpose of enabling vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians to cross the river. A light rail line in Milwaukie will not do that. It’s in the wrong location and it’s going the wrong way…. Besides, I didn’t think the point of rebuilding the Sellwood bridge was to improve the traffic situation other than to make it safer by enabling people to drive/walk/bike across a bridge that isn’t about to fall down.

      • dean

        Joanne…I’m not an expert on transportation, but did live in Sellwood for 15 years so have some direct experience in that area. Plus I now live farther out in Clackamas County, making me part of the problem or solution depending on how one looks at it.

        I would guess a fair amount of the Sellwood Bridge traffic is going to or through Milwaukie, which is the terminus of the proposed rail line. If one lives in or near Milwaukie one could opt for light rail rather than driving, assuming one’s destination were along that line or easily linked to somewhere else. If Portland eventually extends the trolley from South Waterfront to Lake O, then that would make a convenient connection there, but downtown Lake O does not have much employment as a destination. More than 1 transfer tends to make transit very inconvenient.

        You are right that folks living in Sellwood-Moreland generally are not headed to Milwaukie. Like everyone else in the Portland area, they probably head in a lot of different directions day to day, but the bulk of employment is either in the central city area or west of the hills: Lake O (Kruse way) or the Silicon forest of Hillsboro-Beaverton.

        No question a bridge is needed at Sellwood and if the existing one is not replaced gridlock is going to get a lot worse, especialy for Clackamas County residents. Sellwood residents have good options other than driving. The new OMSI-springwater bike path makes it a 10-15 minute bicycle ride to the central city. There are also good bus options, though busses get stuck in the same traffic as the cars.

        There is another way to reduce or eliminate gridlock, which is to get people to drive less. Allow or encourage more employment and shopping options nearer to where people live, and design communities that are easy to get around in without a car. Older Portland neighborhoods have these advantages, as do some of the new suburban neighborhoods like Fairview Village, Villebois, and Orenco Station. Downtown Lake O is being redeveloped along these lines as well, as downtown Gresham.

        I’m agnostic on the Milwaukie Light rail by the way, neither an advocate nor a critic. The point of the Sellwood Bridge replacement is that the existing bridge is simply falling apart. If it was in good shape I don’t think there would be any discussion about replacement, since as far as I can tell the bridge planners are not doing much of anything to increase its vehicle capacity (other than re-opening it to trucks and buses).

        The bigger picture, it seems to me, is that with light rail downtown Milwaukie is expected to become a higher density area with its own amenities. It is all part of the bigger regional plan that envisions a series of small to medium sized “centers” connected by high capacity mixed use transit (frequent bus or light rail) corridors. Love it or hate it (most readers of this site say they hate it and anyone who likes it,) that is the Portland area plan to accomodate many, many new people and companies while avoiding “sprawl.”

        • Joanne Rigutto

          Dean, I have a hard time believing that people drive around the Portland metro area just for something to do. If we will accept that premise, then I would think that the logical conclussion is that people drive around the Portland metro area because they need to get somewhere, and they’re doing it in a passenger vehicle because it’s more convenient and/or it takes less time than the bus or light rail, especially if one has more than one destination in one’s trip, and those destinations are not all on the same bus or light rail line. Remember, in order to conserve fuel and be more ecologically responsible we are supposed to combine trips.

          That being the case, the only way you’re going to reduce congestion in vehicular traffic is to either make it illegal or cost prohibitive to drive, both of which will have profound impacts on trades people who have to drive, and low income people who can’t afford either the surcharge for driving, or the time it takes to take mass transit to work as well as companies that deliver goods to various locations in Portland. I lived just 2 or 3 miles from Cleveland Highschool when I was going there. It took me 45 minutes on the bus, 45 minutes on foot, or less than 10 minutes by passenger vehicle to go between the school and my home. Unless you can make mass transit, be it by bus. light rail, trolley etc. faster, easier, and cheaper than driving or walking, people are going to continue to use their passenger vehicles. People working in the trades and delivering goods will have to drive no matter what, which means that any trip surcharge will just be passed on to the consumer anyway from the contractor/delivery service, and those employees who can’t afford to pay a trip surcharge will have to quit their jobs, making wages go up eventually, which the consumer will pay as well…..

          I still say, that if Portland is unwilling to increase the vehicle transportation infrastructure, then they are going to have to halt growth. Period. If congestion gets too bad, Portland is going to stop growing anyway. People and businesses will move to outlying areas.

          • dean

            Joanne…I don’t disagree with you. But as a practical matter, what would “making it easier to drive” in Portland mean? Especially if we accept the premise of 1 million more residents in a few decades?

            Widening roads, or building new roads, impacts properties and people on those routes. People living in Portland don’t want their neighborhoods to become throughways for suburban commuters, which is why the Mt Hood Freeway was killed many years ago, and is why the Sellwood Bridge replacement will be only 2 lanes.

            It is a practical option to build or modify neighborhoods that allow people to drive less. When I lived in Sellwood I walked to the grocery store enarly every day, and I bicycled to my studio in downtown Portland. I rarely used my car. Many Portlander’s live this way today. For others, like tradesmen, salesmen, consultants, and so forth, driving is the only practical option in most cases. It benefits them to have people walking and cycling and riding transit because it makes more space available. It is not either/or in my opinion. We need to have options.

            There is not enough money allocated through the gas tax to pay for a transportation infrastructure that can keep up with expected Portland area growth, and it does not matter if one spends the available funds on roads, rail, bicycle lanes, or a combination of these. Its a fact. And no one has the authority to tell people they can’t move here. Also a fact. If driving freely is the most important part of life to someone, there are plenty of empty spaces in the United States, but Portland is not one of them.

            Rupert (below)…have you ridden a Max train? Do you really believe “no one” rides them?

          • Joanne Rigutto

            “There is not enough money allocated through the gas tax to pay for a transportation infrastructure that can keep up with expected Portland area growth, and it does not matter if one spends the available funds on roads, rail, bicycle lanes, or a combination of these. Its a fact. And no one has the authority to tell people they can’t move here. Also a fact. If driving freely is the most important part of life to someone, there are plenty of empty spaces in the United States, but Portland is not one of them.”

            I agree with you Dean. The problem that Portland and it’s immediate neighbors (cities) face, is the projected growth that the area is facing in the next 50 years. As I see it there is no solution. Portland and Metro want more compact growth which will bring more transportation and sociological problems. The transportation problems will come from a lack of will and in fact a lack of the ability to expand the transportation infrastructure, the sociological problems will come from other factors that I’d rather not delve into in this thread, but they will happen as they have been happening.

            There is, ultimately, no solution to Portland’s transportation problems, at least not one which the leadership in Portland is willing to embrace, which is why I live in Mulino and only do work in Portland, especially the core area, when I have to.

          • dean

            Joanne…what “sociological problems” do you believe will result from more compact growth?

            On your journeys to the Portland area, I encourage you to take a side trip to downtown Lake Oswego the new Villebois neighborhood in Wilsonville, and SE Belmont Street in Portland. These 3 are all examples of more compact, mixed use development that make it easier to live one’s life with less reliance on a car. They all appear to be succesful to me, and I don’t see “sociological problems,” if by that we mean increased crime related to poverty in these areas. Quite the opposite.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Ever notice that no matter what the issue, the standard response one hears from people that love all this inane planning is “well, the real problem is this or that program isn’t fully funded”.

    Some advocate finding this funding through elimination of “waste fraud and abuse” as if that were a line item in the budget. Others do so through inane comparisons to how much the project costs in terms of the Iraq war ( The Defense department is the only item in any government budget the left will ever say is fully funded, well, except for veterans benefits and even then, only if a Republican is president ).

    The neat thing in this situation is funding for the bridge is easy.

    If one cant recognize that transportation is fully funded in this state, by evidence of being able to spend something like $100 million per mile on choo choos that no one rides, well, that person is blind. “$100 million a mile” is as close to a line item in the budget labeled “waste fraud and abuse” as one can get.

  • Anonymous

    Dean you canard machine.

    Rebuilding the Sellwood Bridge as a 4 lane would not negatively impact the Sellwood neighborhood or Macadam at all.
    That’s anti-car BS.
    It would help Tacoma be returned to the thoroughfare it was recently and keep traffic on Tacoma and not the side streets of the Sellwood Neighborhood.
    Macadam backs up right now because the bridge can’t handle the traffic. Why are you so damn dumb.

    Milwaukee light rail line won’t improve traffic at all. That’s yet another one of your delusions.
    And with more wasted money on rail transit we just fall further into gridlock.
    But that’s by design as planners at Metro and TriMet believe the congestion misery they are creating will reduce congestion. And that helping traffic increases it.
    They are insane.
    That’s why they and their friends like you are blocking every other road expansion in sight.
    That “bigger regional plan that envisions” is nothing but more delusion. It neither reduces car use or accomodates many new people and companies.
    It’s another lie like Global Warming.

    You buy them all don’t you.

    • dean

      Oy with the name calling from anonymous cowards.

      Correction: I have not blocked or attempted to block a single road project. Nor have I actively supported a single light rail project.

      The good people of Sellwood made their choice on Tacoma several years ago, which was to quiet it back down to its historic role as a 2 lane neighborhood collector from its morphed role as a 4 lane arterial, badly matched to the homes and businesses that line it. So a 4 lane bridge feeding a 2 lane street is a political non-starter. If you don’t like it, move to Sellwood and try and change the minds of the people who live there.

      Yes…everyone but you apparently is insane, delusional, dumb, and so forth. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ted Kennedy’s Liver

    That “2” rating on the Sellwood bridge is 2 out of 100.

    Why is it still open? I guess impending fiscal disasters are not the only impending disasters to which the fools running the city and county are blind.

    I just hope the collapse occurs in the middle of the night when there are few cars on it – but it won’t. It will hapen during rush hour and then the taxpayers will be on the hook for billions of dollars in lawsuits.

    Now would be the to start researching the criminal liability of the bureaucrats who chose light rail (aainst the will of the voters) over infrastructure repair.

  • Anonymous


    Your continued deceit and misrepresentations are far worse than the any justifiable lables attached to you.

    Your dishonesty surpasses all. There is no question that your Metro propaganda does indeed block road projects and advance the light rail high density agenda. You can’t even be honest about that.

    No Dean you are not an expert on Transportation and neither is the Metro council.

    Your take on Sellwood and the bridge is as lacking as your BS on Orenco and Villebois. Of which you know little more than the bromide propaganda and theories ushering along those policies.
    On implementation and results you are pathetic.

    The Sellwood Bridge is an important thoroughfare and intregal part of the system needed to make the area function. I am very familiar with the history of Tacoma and Sellwood. I saw the reduced lanes many years ago as I drove side streets to get around the gridlock. Improvements were made and for years traffic moved better. Then along came the anti-car agenda and CoP commish Charlie Hales to stick in traffic calming bubble curbs and lane reductions. An absurd move but Hales stated that people will just have to find another way. Now here we are with the long neglected bridge issue and people like you insist it match Hales’ anti-car insanity of ignoring it’s vital need to be an efficient thoroughfare.
    A bridge is needed at Sellwood and gridlock is going to get a lot worse even with it. So we can’t allow any more insanity of reducing vehicle thoroughfares. Especially since no new ones will be coming any time ever.
    It doesn’t matter if a few Sellwood residents use bikes or transit. That doesn’t reduce traffic at all.
    Your suggestions that it will are dishonest.

    Nothing about your suggestions reduce or eliminate gridlock. You come here with the endless echo chamber of policies that only work in theory and fail over and over again to actual get people to drive less. By “encouraging” you really mean massive subsidies for development presented as the means to get around without a car but result in more gridlock and the auto oriented chaos found at Fairview Village, Villebois, and Orenco Station with no measurable benefit to congestion at all. Little pockets of downtowns like Lake O and Gresham don’t work to reduce congestion either, having little or no effect on rush hour when congestion happens.

    Claiming you are “agnostic” on the Milwaukie Light rail is laughable. Everything about your posts show you are a big Transit Oriented development advocate. So get real for once.
    The anti-car planners are doing everything possible to avoid having the Sellwood Bridge and Tacoma act as an efficient thorough. Despite it’s vital role in the area.

    Their “bigger picture” that “seems to you” it to expand light rail, then spend massive public sums to subsidize more higher density chaos, while completely ignoring traffic as they have over and over again.

    Of course it’s all part of the bigger regional unworkable fantasy that ignores growth and increasing traffic while insiting a series of small to medium sized “centers” connected by light rail corridors will suffice. There’s not a center around that has provided any genuine substitute for well reasoned planning and traffic engineering.
    You and this bigger picture are nothing but fraud.
    It’s not a matter of loving it or hating it.
    It’s that the Portland area plan will NOT accommodate the many new people, companies and vehicles at all.
    That’s the point.
    I charge that all of you dishonest advocates of this plan know very like the plan won’t be accommodating growth. But your fanatic agenda OKs any means or outcomes if it stops your imaginary evil sprawl.
    The crippling public cost and dysfunctional region encourages a better way?

    • dean

      And you are a name-calling coward who hides behind anonymity. Not worth responding to any longer. Buh bye now.

  • Anonymous

    Good and take your Metro con job with you.

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)