Delta Ponds Bike & Ped Bridge Dedication

Lee Imonen's sculpture frames the Delta Pods Bridge

What is it about a bridge? I can ride for miles along the riverfront, but I never stop to soak in the scenery and contemplate my place in the world until I am crossing a bridge.

Though it won’t be officially open until November, the community got to have a sneak preview of the Delta Ponds Bike & Ped Bridge during the dedication ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. And it wasn’t just the bike community that turned out–the neighborhood was there, complete with kids and dogs and contagious enthusiasm.

While the official speeches thanked the partnerships that made the bridge possible, pointed out how many jobs were created from the project, and stressed the importance of this safe passage over the Delta Highway to pedestrians, especially to kids going to and from school; while all these good, practical points were being made, we were basking in the fun of going back and forth over this new structure. Like cats rubbing their cheeks against the furniture, we were instantly working on making it our own.

Take the jump for more from Katura, Seager’s comments on the funding controversy, and multiple slideshows!

Why? The Delta Ponds Bike & Ped Bridge is lovely. It has whimsical curves on the west side of the crossing; it has bright red cables fanning out to support the structure; and it passes over a beautiful section of wetland at the edge of the Delta Ponds as well as over the noisy traffic of the Delta Highway. I instantly regretted not bringing binoculars, because the birdwatching from the bridge is going to be such fun. It has beautiful public art that  not only makes a fun visual pun with the angles of the bridge, but that sparkles when the light hits it right.

Mayor Kitty Piercy Addresses the Crowd

The dedication event was a good party, with stunt bmx riders, Elvis impersonators, and a delightful marching band. The real party, however, will happen when the bridge opens and becomes a regular dance-floor for the people of Eugene.

Seager’s Addition:

There has been a bit of controversy surrounding the city’s decision to use the “left over” money from the federal stimulus grant on public art and other improvements.  Much of this controversy stems from people’s interpretation of a September 10th article in the Register-Guard about Imonen’s sculpture.  This generated several letters to the editor which, combined with earlier letters to the editor claiming that the bridge was a waste of money which “should have been used to fix the roads for cars,” have made this bridge a little controversial.

As reported previously by WeBikeEugene here and here, the bridge was paid for with federal stimulus money which could not be used for local road projects like filling potholes. As for the left over money, the majority of it still went back to the state.  The city was nice enough to explain the funding fully:  (emphasis mine)

The stimulus funds originally available for the bridge were $2,225,000.00 (one of three federal funding sources for the bridge). The availability of this grant was a game changer for the bridge. Until we were supported with this stimulus funding, the marching orders were to design the bridge and then put the plans and specifications on a shelf and wait for funding.

The same economic collapse that ultimately resulted in stimulus funding, also resulted in a favorable bidding environment. The original bid amount for construction was for $3,438,410.50, which was 23.8% below the engineer’s estimate of $4,513,171.25.

Truly this was a silver lining on the bad economy. The stimulus funding needed to build the no-frills bridge (the one we thought was all we could afford) was only $800,000±. Many things were removed from the project due to perceived lack of funding, and many were never considered in the first place.

ODOT and the FHWA allowed us to apply for additions to the bridge project to use some of the “left-over” stimulus funds. One of those items was the powder coating for the rails, a $51,000 item that had been removed from the project when we did not think we had the funds available. Powder coated rails are in use on other pedestrian/bicycle bridges in the community, look great, and provide additional coating against weather.

The other items added to the bridge project was the sculpture “Bountiful”, the pedestrian refuge island on Goodpasture Island Road (and the traffic revisions that entailed), and the enhanced LED lighting.

Even with these authorized additions ($420,000 worth), about $1M went back to the State.

Certain things like the pedestrian island and powder coated rails will save the City money on maintenance and safety in the long run.  Powder coated rails won’t need repainting as soon, and the ped island was a necessity.  The sculpture cost only $100,000.  10 times that much money was returned to the state, and the sculpture was only 2.9% the total budget of the bridge.

To put these dollar amounts into perspective, one mile of urban freeway costs about $60 million dollars, roughly 17 times as much as the total Delta Ponds bridge and 600 time as much as the sculpture.  This is the same cost as Portland’s ENTIRE 300 miles of urban bike infrastructure, including paths, lanes, and bike boulevards.   It’s fun to think that for the cost of just 2 miles of urban freeway, Eugene could leave Portland in the dust!

Slideshow below courtesy of Hans Kuhn.

WeBikeEugene’s Slideshow:

Author: Katura Reynolds