Molalla Pioneer: PSU Capstone project Bear Creek Byway to break ground
Author: Peggy Savage
Posted: July 21, 2014

Read the original article in the Molalla Pioneer here.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Bear Creek Byway was held Saturday, July 19 in Molalla. As of June, the bridge project organizers have found most of its funding and builders, said John Flavin, a member of the group organizing the project. So far, Flavin said, Molalla Community Builders raised approximately $42,440 in cash and pledges for both cash and in-kind materials. Of that total, actual cash received is approximately $20,940.

Portland State University used the project as a senior “capstone” class for eight of its engineering students, he said.

The PSU students visited the site, and conducted extensive research and analysis on the soil, hydrology, bridge materials, path design and more. Under the supervision of their instructor, they then designed the bridge and path, and created drawings to illustrate the various dimensions and elements of the project.

“Overall, I would estimate somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 people have been actively involved over the last year in helping raise money, and in completing work to prepare the project site for this month’s ground-breaking,” Flavin said.

Major donors so far include: Portland State University, Clackamas County, The Ford Family Foundation, Molalla Communications, Molalla Redi Mix and Rancho Tres Potrillos.

“As for the importance of the project, I think the broad support it has received from citizens all around Clackamas County and the Portland metro area is a testament to how people believe the project will provide an important and needed benefit to the Molalla community,” Flavin said.

Currently, the community has only one supermarket, and that supermarket is at the farthest eastern edge of town. Thus, those people who can’t drive to do their grocery shopping currently have only two routes to get the market: one along Highway 211, and one along Highway 213.

Both of these roads are not safe for pedestrians or bicyclists because they have sections of about a quarter mile or more with no highway shoulders, and with deep trenches at the edge of the roadway. People have been seen both day and night walking on the same part of the highway used by cars.

“Our Molalla Community Builders members have personally seen or heard reports of people pushing strollers in the roadway, and riding motorized wheelchairs in the roadway,” Flavin said.

The GROW Healthy Kids and Communities program of the Oregon State University Extension Service has identified the condition of these highways as impediments to many Molalla residents to access to healthy foods.

“The purpose of the ground-breaking and additional promotion is to try to bring the community back in to our project,” Flavin said. “We had a long hiatus while waiting for our plans to be completed. The plans are now almost done, and we are in serious need of volunteers and labor to work on the actual building of the bridge and path throughout this summer.”

Skilled trades people (such as contractors, carpenters, excavators, welders) who are willing to volunteer their labor and equipment are especially needed and appreciated, he said.