Good news today for those considering serving on a Multnomah County advisory committee: your input matters.
As we explained last week, after six years of public process led to a well-vetted and well-liked Sellwood Bridge design, Multnomah County proposed a new, considerably different one just weeks before the Public Stakeholder Committee (PSC)* was asked to vote on a final design. The new proposal came with very few details — for example, this was the only drawing staffers shared of the design for the west end of the bridge:
The reason for the last-minute change? A supposed savings of $2 million. However, in the face of tough questions from Mayor Adams about the roughly $70 million “swing” of cuts plus new spending, that reasoning became difficult to justify.
After testimony from the Sellwood Bridge Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and public comment from the Multnomah County Bike and Pedestrian Committee, community members, and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, it became clear that nobody was pleased with the last-minute nature of these changes.
In the BTA’s testimony, we offered the PSC two potential courses of action:
Option 1: Delay today’s vote and require Multnomah County to set a reasonable timeline for seeking input from stakeholders on their new design.
After hearing tough questions from the public and PSC members, particularly Mayor Adams and Metro Councilor Collette, the county put the original community-supported, balanced bridge design back on the table. The motion to recommend that plan carried unanimously. County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the PSC’s recommendation this Thursday.
*The Public Stakeholders Committee is made up of Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen, County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Milwaukie Mayor Jeremy Ferguson, Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, State Senator Diane Rosenbaum, State Rep. Carolyn Tomei, ODOT Region 1 Manager Jason Tell, and Federal Highway Administration representative Phillip Ditzler.