Clackamas County to ‘Seriously Consider’ Nixing Bridge Proposal at Canby Ferry Location

The chairman of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners believes he and his colleagues should “seriously consider” nixing the idea of a bridge, tolled or untolled, at the current location of the Canby Ferry. 

A bridge was one of the primary options analyzed during the county’s study into the Canby Ferry and the feasibility of various alternatives. The study’s findings were revealed at a public meeting held Jan. 15 at Canby Foursquare Church, and the toll bridge seemed like it might be the early favorite for the county leaders who will ultimately make the decision. 

In short, the toll bridge was the only proposal that broke even financially (even ending ferry service would cost an estimated $2 million). Also, the toll bridge seemed to balance commissioners’ desires to use road funds more efficiently (operating the ferry costs approximately $400,000 more a year than it brings in, while the feasibility study indicated a toll bridge would pay for itself) while still limiting traffic in the rural surrounding areas.

A high toll would carry an estimated 2,000 drivers over the bridge each day — which is still 10 times what the Ferry sees, on average — but it’s significantly less than the 16,000 cars predicted to use the bridge if it had no toll at all.

The main problem is that the rural residents in the area don’t want a bridge, believing it would significantly disrupt their way of life, and many  community members agree with them. They fear the potential safety impacts and costs of funneling over 2,000 cars a day onto rural roads that currently see closer to 200. 

During the Board of Commissioners’ business meeting earlier today, Chair Jim Bernard said that message was received, loud and clear. In his words, there is “no support” in the community for the bridge proposal.

Those who were against the bridge idea will certainly be relieved to hear this, but it still leaves open the question of what to do with the Canby Ferry. In addition to comments opposing the bridge, a number of citizens at the Jan. 15 meeting offered ways they believe the ferry could be run more profitably, and Bernard says he thinks many of these ideas have merit and should be explored further.

The commissioners’ next discussion of the Canby Ferry will be 9:30 a.m. Jan. 30 at the Board Hearing Room in Oregon City. No public comment will be taken on this day, but the meeting is open to the public.

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