Untolled Bridge Looks Unlikely at Canby Ferry Location

16,000. That’s how many cars an untolled bridge at the Canby Ferry would see daily within 10 years, according to a traffic analysis shared by Clackamas County transportation staff at a meeting with the Board of Commissioners Tuesday afternoon. By comparison, the ferry currently carries about 200 cars a day.

This study is probably the end of the road for the idea of building an untolled bridge at that location, as no one at the county is interested in funneling that much traffic onto the rural roads in Canby and West Linn. A tolled bridge is still a possibility, however, as adding a toll does reduce those estimates dramatically.

On the plus side, county staff say a bridge at that location would decrease commute time by about 20 minutes a day for the 65 percent of Canby residents who work in the Portland area. They also believe the $3 million a year generated by tolls would cover the costs of construction, bond payments, operations and maintenance.

On the negative side, residents in the area don’t want a bridge, or the increased traffic that would come with it. This is something they have made very clear throughout this process, including at a public meeting at the Canby Public Library this summer attended by an estimated 250 people.

Although commissioners are nowhere near to making an official decision, a few of them did share their current thinking. One looming factor in their decision is the fact that, if ferry service is continued, the vessel will have to replaced in 15 to 20 years, at an estimated cost of $2 to 3 million. Commissioner Paul Savas said he would be very reluctant to support such an expense. Meanwhile, Commissioner Martha Schrader said the county may consider asking the city of Canby to join in subsidizing the ferry, which currently costs about $400,000 more than the revenue it brings in each year.

The county now expects to finish the feasibility study in January. The findings will be detailed at a public meeting, then a public hearing will be scheduled for residents to voice their opinions before the Board of Commissioners.

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