The Oregon Department of Transportation has decided to delay the closure of the Oregon City-West Linn Arch Bridge. The decision was made after a federal review provided engineers with eight recommendations to improve the project.
Built in 1922, the Arch Bridge is one of a kind. It links Highway 43 and West Linn to a downtown Oregon city that's on the precipice of change.
"It's like I would imagine the Pearl District was before it was the Pearl District. There's a lot of potential here," says Rob Crocker, owner of Funnelbox Motion Picture Studios. Crocker has a lot on the line. He owns his business and several neighboring buildings along Main Street, including the property that houses Mi Famiglia Wood Oven Pizzeria. Patty Eddy, Mi Famiglia's owner was relieved to hear the bridge closure was delayed.
"I felt that we would get hit at first," explains Eddy.
Open just two years, Mi Famiglia was part of a downtown revolution. Run down buildings on Main Street were slowly being revitalized by locally owned businesses reliant on a constant customer flow.
"We need to fill it up. We need to fill it up a couple times a day and that's the only way we're going to stay in business," Eddy said.
The two-year bridge closure designed to repair the aging arch was viewed by many as a dagger to the heart of downtown momentum.
"Every month that we can delay a bridge closure that would really put a choke hold on downtown is another month to get these programs up and running," explained Lloyd Purdy, Director of Downtown Oregon City.
While ODOT recognizes the difficulty a two year closure may cause to businesses, it feels the work must be done.
"If there's any way we can shorten that time, we will but we can't make a promise on that because that would be disingenuous, we don't know," said spokesman Dave Thompson.
Even business owners conceded that repairs were needed, however they cringed at the timing and duration of the project.
In reviewing the federal recommendations, ODOT could now delay the closure until very late next year or early 2011.