The Best Comments from the Canby Ferry Open House

Clackamas County is trying to figure out what to do with the Canby Ferry. The ferry is a piece of Canby’s history, with a legacy that dates back to 1914, when the first Canby ferryman, Clem Dollar, began shuttling passengers across the Willamette for a grand salary of $120 a year.

The ferry has been in almost-continuous operation since then, with the exception of a seven-year period between 1946 and 1953, and is today one of only three remaining ferries on the Willamette River. The problems, however, are several: the ferry can’t run when the river level gets above 70 feet and during other inclement weather, can carry only six cars at a time, costs motorists $5 per vehicle for a one-way trip and costs the county hundreds of thousands of dollars more to operate than it receives in revenue.

The county’s transportation department has proposed six options going forward: 

  1. Leave things the way they are.
  2. Discontinue ferry service.
  3. Build a bridge (no toll) and continue ferry service.
  4. Build a bridge (no toll) and discontinue ferry service.
  5. Build a toll bridge and continue ferry service.
  6. Build a toll bridge and discontinue ferry service.

Country transportation staff are currently working on a feasibility study to study these options and make a recommendation to the County Board of Commissioners, which is expected in late November. Their report will include projected costs, traffic impacts and other issues related to the six alternatives.

As part of the feasibility study, Clackamas County held an open house with local residents this summer to collect public comment on what they think the county should do. More than 250 people attended, with no clear consensus emerging. 

Here are some of the best comments from that meeting:

  • This is absurd! Leave the ferry. The traffic would be horrible. Roads in this area are not equipped to handle the traffic that would result without major renovation and expense. Turn the ferry over to private ownership — leave some element of history and culture — or make a museum out of it. Do NOT put a bridge at the end of Mountain Road. Close down the  feasibility study. The cost of the feasibility study could be put toward the cost of the ferry.
  • I feel that the ferry not only supplies a route from Canby, but also an identity for our community. Building a bridge would negatively impact the small town rural character of our town. The feasibility of using a bridge with the crowded roads in Canby is negative. Canby could not withstand the impact.
  • Keep the ferry!! Bridge at an alternate location that would carve out MORE I-205 traffic. It appears you are only addressing local traffic.
  • Remove the ferry. Too few people use it. Don’t build a bridge when the ridership and roads don’t justify it. A bridge makes no sense based on the cost and the fact that it is not needed. If you want to eliminate the cost — take out the ferry. People will get over it. A bridge is the worst of all of the possibilities. Totally illogical.
  • If the ferry loses $450,000 per year and carries 100-200 cars per day, why would you consider a $40 million-plus bridge that you will keep tolls high on to limit ridership? The toll will not cover the cost of this bridge not to mention the interest on the bonds, etc. Take the ferry out. The reason I am hearing is you don’t want to take it out due to nostalgia, yet you’ll take it out to build a $40 million bridge? We all lose on THAT! Take it out or leave it — but no BRIDGE!!
  • How will this effect our property values? Traffic problems, recreational – biking, jogging, etc. We do not want a bridge. We like our community the way it is.
  • I travel by auto several times per week, sometimes more than once per day to visit family in Wilsonville and to shop along I-5. The congestion at Wilsonville is awful. I would choose to go across the river near the ferry if there were a bridge. I support having a toll road. We have to pay for what we want.
  • You will be throwing away a way of life. Keep as a tourist draw. This area on Canby side has been designated rural. With trucks and traffic and re-drawing lay of land it will forever change the area. You have other losses for things that count. Why not save the ferry?
  • I live in Canby, work downtown Portland. I never take the ferry. In 10 years I took it once, to show my grandson the ferry. If we had a bridge at that location, I would take it every day. I-5 traffic to enter into Wilsonville is really challenging and I believe a bridge at that location would be a good solution.
  • Dumbest idea ever! A bridge would overwhelm Canby with unwanted traffic. The roads to and from would never be maintained. The ferry is part of Canby history which needs to be saved. With the cost of the bridge, you could run the ferry for YEARS!
  • Our family moved to Mountain Rd. We are worried about the traffic as we have many farm animals and dogs. Cars already travel way above the limit and even use it as a drag strip. A bridge would increase traffic and hurt our farm and property value. We are against a bridge.
  • Why is Marion County able to run the Wheatland Ferry for $2/car or $1/pedestrian — also only 1 operator? Is Marion County better with management or operations than Clackamas County? Hard to believe!! Very much hate to lose a Canby icon!!
  • Please leave our ferry alone and go to Portland to use bridges.
  • Can you sell the ferry to a private party? Your number is 30 million. Sellwood was 350 million. You cannot build this for 30 million. We need updated numbers. Keep rural/country roads preserved. A highway scenario on Mountain Rd is a death sentence to cars, peds and animals. People will die trying to get their share.
  • The ferry is a living piece of history. It should not have to “pay for itself.” It should not be removed to speed up traffic, and ultimately, to enable development. The public deserves a public hearing!!

See here for full results from the survey and a complete list of comments.

Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!