Pressured by community, city votes against Foothills bridge

The Lake Oswego City Council voted 5-2 at its Nov. 5 meeting to withdraw the city from any future involvement with the proposed Oak Grove-Lake Oswego pedestrian/bike bridge. The decision came after weeks of heated debate amongst community members about the proposal’s worth and potential impact.

The bridge was initially planned to be constructed at or near Foothills Park in Lake Oswego, connecting the unincorporated community of Oak Grove with the Foothills neighborhood. Early designs for the bridge showed that it would likely only be built for pedestrians and bicyclists, with the potential for a lane of traffic for emergency vehicles in the event of a natural disaster.

Proponents of the bridge argued that it would increase connectivity between Lake Oswego and communities across the Willamette River, all the while promoting environmentally friendly means of transportation. Several members of the community who supported the construction of the bridge, including a handful of high school students, spoke at the meeting to demonstrate their support. Ultimately, though, the opposition at the meeting outnumbered the supporters.

Opponents of the bridge argued that it would disrupt and damage Foothills Park because of the installments on the shore that would be needed to support the bridge’s weight. Additionally, opponents believed that the bridge would not be utilized by large amounts of the community, stating that the bridge did not connect two high traffic areas, nor did either side of the bridge have public transportation options – like buses – available.

The bridge project has been in the works for several years, with Metro and Clackamas County and Lake Oswego collaborating on and off. The vote on Nov. 5 was not a direct vote against the bridge’s construction; instead, the city council voted to not participate in any further feasibility studies. It has yet to be seen whether Metro and the county will look for alternative partners moving forward.