Saying that there were too many financial unknowns about an already expensive nearly 300 foot hiking and biking bridge over a ravine south of NE Port, the Lincoln City City Council Monday night decided to withdraw their interest in getting ODOT’s help in building it. Public Works Director Lila Bradley had said that she would be willing to try to negotiate with ODOT to see how far she might get, since the project has been supported by ODOT for the last four years. The council wasn’t convinced. They said the city’s share of the “million dollar-plus” bridge was already at $160,000, and there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t go up from there. A last minute realization that the city may have to also cover the cost of designing the bridge, along with long term maintenance, caused the council to choke. Although councilors Gary Ellingson and Alex Ward voted to continue exploring the issue with ODOT, to try to work a better deal for the city, the rest of the council voted to walk away from it. The vote was 5 to 2.
The bridge would have provided a direct connection on the Head to Bay Trail from NE 21st south to NE 19th, a connection that would have maintained the rural ambiance of the trail. The city’s parks board supported building the bridge, saying that hikers and bikers would be more inclined to use the trail if it passed through a green belt rather than being routed through three blocks of city streets, streets that don’t even have bike lanes. But Mayor Dick Anderson said that a a quick bike lane striping job could take care of that. And besides, he said, the city would be able to apply its $160,000 to some other recreation or parks project.
Bradley said she would take the council’s comments back to the parks board and get their thoughts on it and report back to the council.