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May 2012 Open House

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Project Background

photo of bridge

The Carver Bridge was built in 1955 and carries and average of 7,200 vehicles per day.

Clackamas County has been working with the community and project partners since 2006 to develop plans for a replacement bridge over the Clackamas River at Carver, a crossing that has seen increasing congestion and safety concerns.

Any Carver Bridge solution must achieve a number of project goals, including: improve traffic flow and safety, reduce congestion, provide sufficient capacity to support several decades of growth, minimize impacts to residences and businesses, and protect or restore Clackamas River habitat.

The topography and land use around the crossing site have made designing a replacement bridge both difficult and complex.

The current crossing requires very sharp turns on narrow lanes, while on one side, the road is sandwiched between a steep bluff and the river. Concerns for geologic stability, potential displacements of homes and businesses, and costs have driven the development and selection of alternatives.

Initial Studies and Alternatives Development

Formal project activities began in January 2006, with a project kick-off and field survey and data collection. Analysis of field data and preliminary design work were done in the spring of 2006, and meetings with key stakeholders were held throughout 2006 and into 2007. As a result of these studies, three project alternatives, each specifying a location for the new crossing, were proposed for further study:
  • Upstream from the current bridge (to include Highway 224 intersection improvements)
  • Downstream from the current bridge
  • At the current bridge location

Public Input
Following the identification of these three proposed alternatives, a public open house was held on Wednesday, January 31, 2007, with one hundred eighteen people attending. As people entered, they were asked to examine a list of nine issues associated with replacing the Carver Bridge and select what they considered the three most important issues, in priority order. The cumulative results showed the top three issues of public concern, in order of importance, to be:

  1. Minimizing Traffic Congestion
  2. Improving Traffic Safety
  3. Minimizing Impacts on Businesses

Other issues, in priority order, were: Preserving Historic Structures, Protecting and Restoring Habitat, Minimizing Project Costs, Providing Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities, Minimizing Impacts on Carver Park, and Integrating with Future Carver Plans.

Attendees were also asked to rank the proposed alternatives and to respond to open-ended questions. Please see Alignment Alternatives for information presented at the January 2007 open house. This and other information can be found in the Project Library at left.

After further study, the Downstream Alternative was eliminated due to public concerns and projected impacts, including increased traffic on Clackamas River Drive, displacements of homes and businesses, costs associated with potential erosion problems and the physical configuration of the site. The Upstream Alternative was also eliminated, due to the lack of funding required for intersection improvements to Highway 224 associated with this alternative.

As a result, the project team chose the current bridge site as the most feasible and cost-effective location for the replacement bridge. Building a new bridge at the current bridge location will accomplish the following:

  • Provide the funds to include sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of the bridge.
  • Give the County and its partners (the City of Damascus and the Oregon Department of Transportation) time to explore and obtain funding for future transportation improvements in the area, including improvements to the Highway 224 intersection.

On Wednesday, May 21, 2008, a second project open house was held. At the open house, project staff explained that the County would be building the replacement for the Carver Bridge at its current location. The meeting was also an opportunity to get community feedback on other important bridge considerations, including:

  • bridge structure alternatives
  • construction staging alternatives
  • bridge aesthetics

Please see Structure Alternatives, Construction Staging Alternatives, and Aesthetic Styles for information presented at the May 2008 open house.

Following the May open house, a concrete bridge with a single pier in the river was selected as the replacement bridge type, similar to the two span, spliced pre-cast concrete girder option as presented at the open house. The replacement bridge will be constructed using the detour construction staging alternative.

On Thursday, May 10, 2012, a third and final project open house was held. At the open house, project staff discussed the project's construction schedule, the design of the new bridge, and efforts made to reduce noise and disruptions for area residents and businesses. Please see the Project Library for materials from the meeting.

The Region and its History

Clackamas River and its Environs
The Clackamas River originates on the western slope of the Cascade Mountains and flows in a northwesterly direction through the Willamette Valley until it discharges into the Willamette River at Oregon City. The River is a part of the National Wild and Scenic River system. The river is free flowing, fed by rainfall and snow melt off the southwest side of Mt. Hood. Vegetation in the river corridor near the bridge consists of Douglas fir, western red cedar, vine maple, red alder, hazelnut, salal, Oregon grape, orchard grass, tall fescue, and bracken fern. Non-native, invasive species in the area include Himalayan blackberry, scotch broom, and reed canarygrass. The basalt rock formations in the area are between three and eight million years old.

Baker, Stone, and Carver
Horace and Jane Baker traveled west from Illinois in 1846. The Bakers chose the area for their 640-acre Donation Land Claim due to a basalt rock formation. Horace Baker was a stone mason by trade and, being a very enterprising man, envisioned this area as one of great promise. The quarry became a thriving business. At that time the area was known as “Baker’s Quarry”. Horace also ran a slack-line ferry across the Clackamas River where the bridge is now located.

In the area which is now the Carver Boat Ramp the quarried rock was loaded onto barges and during the spring floods was floated six miles down the Clackamas River to Oregon City and distributed from there. Rock from the quarry provided the materials to build the Oregon City Locks, the Tillamook Lighthouse, Portland’s Pioneer Post Office, the Portland Hotel, and more.

Later the area of the Baker land claim became known as “Stone”. It was not named after the quarry, but after Livingstone Stone, who was the first superintendent of a fish hatchery located near the confluence of Clear Creek and the Clackamas River. This was only the second fish hatchery in the nation, and the first in Oregon.

The area of “Stone” was renamed “Carver” after Steven Carver who platted the first development in the area and built a railway to service the town. The current bridge was built in 1955. In 2004, the community of Carver was incorporated into the City of Damascus. The north side of the river is now inside the Metro urban growth boundary.