French Prairie Bridge ProjectCity Council selects alignment for proposed French Prairie ‘Bike-Ped-Emergency’ Bridge over the Willamette River

WILSONVILLE, OR — On June 4, 2018, the Wilsonville City Council conducted a public hearing and selected a preferred alignment to locate the proposed French Prairie Bridge over the Willamette River that would serve as both an emergency incident response route for I-5 and daily use by bicyclists and pedestrians.

Working in partnership with Clackamas County, the City Council acted on a unanimous recommendation from a 21-member citizen task force empaneled to review and recommend an alignment and design for the bike-ped-emergency bridge. Working in partnership with Clackamas County, the City Council acted on a unanimous recommendation from a 21-member citizen task force empaneled to review and recommend an alignment and design for the bike-ped-emergency bridge. The Clackamas Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution supporting the Alignment W1 recommendation on May 24.

City Councilor Charlotte Lehan, co-chair of task force, said, “This is a great step forward in linking Wilsonville residents on both sides of the river, and in connecting the greater Portland metro area with the Willamette Valley. The French Prairie Bridge could be a regionally significant tool for economic development, tourism, outdoor recreation and emergency incident response on I-5.”

The Council selected the recommended alignment referred to as “W1” that is located adjacent to the Portland and Western Railroad facility at the far west edge of the project area. The north end of the bridge connects to the west shoulder of SW Boones Ferry Road in the City’s Boones Ferry Park. The south end of the bridge connects to NE Butteville Road opposite the Clackamas County Boones Ferry Boat Launch parking lot.

The proposed French Prairie Bridge fills a critical gap in local and regional multi-modal transportation infrastructure, connecting the Portland metro area Tonquin Ice Age Trail and the northern portion of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bike Route. Currently, the only bridge crossing in a 30-mile stretch of the Willamette River in the south Portland metro area is the heavily trafficked I-5 Boone Bridge. Four-foot-wide shoulders of the seven-lane Boone Bridge serve as the only accessible bridge crossing by foot or bike.

This frequently congested bridge carries over 120,000 vehicles every day—nearly a third of which are large trucks—and provides cyclists and pedestrians with no separation from traffic. In instances where there is an accident or other traffic disruption, back-ups on I-5 can impact emergency response time and secondary responders working to clear the road can have difficulty getting to the accident site. The proposed French Prairie Bridge would provide both a safe route for cyclsts and pedestrians to cross the Willamette River and provide an I-5 incident response option for emergency responders.

The next steps for the project include bridge design, environmental review and obtaining construction funding. The Wilsonville City Council and the Clackamas County Board of County Commissioners plan to decide on a bridge design this fall following public input.

Those interested in staying up to date on the project and learning about future events can sign up for project mailings at FrenchPrairieBridgeproject.org. For more information, contact Project Manager Zach Weigel, P.E., at 503-570-1565; weigel@ci.wilsonville.or.us.