Friday, April 15, 2011

the Nature of Milwaukie: Kellogg Lake Light Rail Bridge

TriMet's Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project will extend MAX service across a much-discussed new bridge over the Willamette River, and into Milwaukie, along SE McLoughlin Boulevard.  After traveling through downtown Milwaukie, the line will be elevated to cross over River Road.  I'm a big fan of public transportation and light rail in general, but as the project gets revved up, some Milwaukie and Oak Grove residents are rightfully concerned about the environmental impacts of this less talked about bridge.

The area adjacent to the planned bridge includes Kellogg Lake - an old mill pond that the city of Milwaukie has long planned to improve, by removing the dam and restoring the lake to wetland habitat.

Courtesy of TriMet: A rendering of TriMet's light-rail bridge over Kellogg Lake
 It sounds like TriMet has done a pretty good job of helping that vision come closer to reality.  The bridge design was revised to remove a support that would have been constructed in the lake, and TriMet has proposed to help restore the wetlands as part of the project.  Construction of the bridge will take place at a time least likely to disturb migratory fish,  and some old pilings in the lake will be removed.

That's all great, but some citizen's still have reservations about the design of the bridge itself.  An article in the Clackamas Review says it all in the headline - Ugliest Bridge in America?  In the article, by Raymond Rendleman, Oak Grove resident Les Poole is quoted as saying, "It's bound to be an inaccessible eyesore," referring to the 30-foot height of the steel and concrete structure.  Milwaukie City Councilor Dave Hedges said, “Somebody succeeded in producing for Milwaukie a bridge that would probably win the ugliest bridge in America contest.  That’s a beautiful part of Milwaukie, and you’ve destroyed it, and I’m somebody who thinks that light rail in a very broad sense is a good idea.”  Hedges urged TriMet to find ways to make the bridge blend in better with the environment, and I hope they can.  TriMet will be seeking public comment on the design throughout the year, so hopefully they can come up with some innovative ways to make everyone - residents, engineers, politicians, and wildlife - happy.  If these wetlands are restored, it will be a great compliment to the Johnson Creek - Willamette Confluence Project, happening just on the other side of downtown Milwaukie.

You can read the whole story over at Clackamas Review.


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