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BikePortland.org article about the French Prairie Bridge

posted Apr 3, 2012, 6:14 PM by Patrick Croasdaile
This past February I attended the Wilsonville Bike Tourism Workshop. The event was put on by a number of regional stakeholders: Travel Oregon, Ride Oregon, Clackamas County, the City of Wilsonville, the Wilsonville Area Chamber of Commerce, and others. With the go-ahead from BikePortland.org's venerable editor-in-chief, Jonathan Maus, I wrote a synopsis of the workshop's discussion of the need to build the French Prairie Bridge. The article drew a lot of attention, both on BikePortland.org, and elsewhere. In response to the outpouring of commentary surrounding the article's discussion of the French Prairie Bridge, the Wilsonville Area Chamber of Commerce released an official response to the BikePortland.org article. 


The Chamber's press release sought to clarify some of the information portrayed in the article. As I could interpret it, these clarifications were directed at the comments made by Mayor Tim Knapp concerning the Chamber's stance on the bridge's construction.

From the initial BikePortland.org article: 
[Knapp believed] that the South Metro Chamber of Commerce was standing in the way. Regarding their combined opposition to the bridge he said, "They're looking at the $20 million price tag and that's all they see. Right now, if we voted on it, it would fail. This is really unfortunate because the bridge would benefit everyone. The Chamber ought to be very interested in bike tourism, and this bridge is one of the keys to making it a reality. There's not enough recognition that the bridge and connectivity are what we need, nor are there enough people talking about it and supporting it."

In their response, the Chamber had this to say in their press release:
"There have been statements that simply do not reflect the chamber's position on the issue."
"When it comes to the French Prairie bicycle bridge, the city has not brought the chamber the most recent proposals, cost estimates or environmental feasibility. We are more than willing to support the city in its endeavors to improve the of life of Wilsonville, but we can't take an official position until we know the facts. City officials are more than welcome to present the facts of this bridge and start it through our endorsement process." 

Hopefully increased discussion about the importance of this river-crossing will garner an endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce, and most importantly, the City Council. Pick your angle and there's a win to be generated from building this bridge. While the Chamber of Commerce referred to the French Prairie Bridge as merely a "bicycle bridge" this is far from its only function and only adds to the disjointed dialogue surrounding decisions to fund it in the first place.

In addition to bicycle and pedestrian traffic, the bridge will handle emergency vehicles when traffic on the Boone Bridge prevents access across the river on I-5. For the residents of Charbonneau, the French Prairie Bridge could mean the difference between life and death in these instances. When the Boone Bridge is in virtual lock-down during rush-hour, or the event that there's been a major accident on the bridge, the French Prairie Bridge will be the only expedient transportation route across the river. As such, the French Prairie Bridge gains greater importance as the City of Wilsonville grows. 

Let's get the 'facts' out there and include as many stakeholders as we can on this initiative. 

Patrick H. Croasdaile
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