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2010 - Union Street Railroad Bridge Wins National Award 
 

  
  (L to R)  Charles R. Goodman, Peter Fernandez,
  Mayor Taylor and James Cheatham.
  Photo courtesy U.S. DOT
 
Sun., Jul. 11, 2010 - Salem, Ore. - Salem's historic Union Street Railroad-Bridge recently received 2010 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards in both the Livability/Sustainability category and the Public Involvement and Outreach category from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration.  Salem's bridge project was selected from 80 nominations from across the nation.  The award highlights the collaborative and innovative efforts of the City of Salem, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the Salem community.

"It was my honor to accept this award on behalf of the City of Salem for the renovation of our bike and pedestrian bridge.  The Federal Highway Administration was impressed by the recreational and commuting opportunities it created to cross the Willamette River" said Mayor Janet Taylor, who accepted the award, along with Peter Fernandez, Public Works Director, on behalf of the City of Salem at the Transportation Research Board's Joint Summer Meeting in Minneapolis, MN last week.    

Salem's historic Union Street Railroad Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge officially opened to the public on May 15, 2010.  The new pedestrian and bicycle bridge provides a critical half-mile link in the bicycle and pedestrian circulation systems for the community, the region, and the state.  Two urban-area parks: Wallace Marine (114 acres) and Riverfront (23 acres), book-end this bridge and the conversion connects their trail systems into a single, safe, and family-friendly network.  The project improves bicycle and pedestrian safety and accessibility in Salem, encourages the use of alternative transportation modes, and promotes healthy forms of exercise (like running, cycling, skating, and wheelchairing) for both local and out-of-town users.

The Union Street Railroad Bridge was built across the Willamette River in 1912-13 by Southern Pacific Railway to connect Salem to the West Willamette Valley.  The bridge was acquired by Union Pacific Railroad in 1996 and was purchased by the City of Salem for one dollar in 2004.  The bridge was put on the National Register of Historic Places in January of 2006.

For more information on the Union Street Railroad Bridge or Friends of Two Bridges (a grassroots group dedicated to the Minto Island Bridge and Union Street Railroad Bridge), please refer to www.cityofsalem.net/unionbridge or contact Todd Klocke, Project Coordinator, Urban Development Department at 503-588-6178 or tklocke@cityofsalem.net.

The Friends of Two Bridges is a non-profit grassroots group dedicated to the design and construction of the Minto Island Bridge and the Union Street Railroad Bridge. In addition to gathering support for conversion of the Union Street Railroad Bridge, the group worked on its ribbon cutting ceremony and an interpretive display.  The group is also gathering support for funding the Minto Island to Riverfront Park bridge connection.

For more information on the award and the award process visit: Federal Highway Administration - Transportation Planning Excellence Awards.

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