On November 13, City Council voted to create a task force to find ways to alleviate traffic congestion around the Marion and Center Street Bridges. It will consist of four City Council members who will develop a list of short to long-term recommendations.
At the council meeting, Mayor Bennett said, "We know there is an ongoing congestion problem downtown and that traffic flow is not working."
For the past 10 years, regional transportation experts, City Staff, and the community have considered options and alternatives to a new Willamette River crossing. This process will produce a Final Environmental Impact Statement for a potential new crossing, but not the bridge itself. There is no timeline for completion of a Final Environmental Impact Statement, and it could take another 10 years beyond completion to fund, design, and begin construction of a new bridge.
In light of that fact, Council recognizes that current congestion must be reduced as soon as possible. "We need to make some real progress on that now," said Ward 6 Councilor Chris Hoy.
The task force will examine the results of studies and projects from the past 20 years, as well as current and projected traffic data to inform their recommendations. Any potential solutions they develop will be independent of any decisions related to a new bridge.
"I think that this proposal really has nothing to do with any environmental impact statement," said Tom Andersen, Ward 2 Councilor. "I think what we're doing here is a separate project that needs to happen right now because the goal here is to improve the traffic flow and to decrease congestion on both sides of the river."
The task force will hold several meetings from January 2018 through June 2018. They will primarily focus on finding better ways for motor vehicles to get around on and near the bridges while keeping in mind other forms of transportation such as walking, biking, and public transit.
Residents may attend the task force meetings and will have the opportunity to review and comment on recommendations when they are proposed for inclusion in the Capital Improvement Program. Meeting dates will be available on the City website.
Learn more about the background and scope of the task force.