By Allen Bjergo, President, Tonia Bloom, Secretary, Roy Meyer, Treasurer
Dear County Commissioners,
In 2009, we wrote to you about our concerns regarding pedestrian and bicycle safety at the Woodside Bridge. Four years, at least one accident, and countless near misses later our concern has only increased. The lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure at Woodside continues to be among the most serious safety issues in the county transportation system. The bridge was not designed for and has not kept up with the changes resulting from growth – in this case, a higher volume of fast-paced motorized traffic, an increased amount of non-motorized traffic, and greater recreational use of the Bitterroot River access site.
As we noted in our previous letter to you, the Woodside Bridge is among the most heavily travelled bridges in the valley. It is the only river crossing between Hamilton and Victor and is an essential part of the primary east-west artery of the Corvallis community. The narrow span is crossed by school buses, large trucks and hundreds of cars every day. The Woodside Bridge fishing access is also a heavily used recreation site – a destination for people of all ages. With the recent completion of pathways along Highway 93 south into Hamilton and north to Victor, the Woodside Bridge is crossed by every pedestrian or bicyclist travelling to and from Corvallis and the Highway 93 paths.
Corvallis residents have been aware for decades of the hazardous situation at the Woodside Bridge and have talked among themselves about the risks to children and adults who venture onto the bridge on foot or bicycle. “When are they going to do something about the bridge?” is a refrain heard frequently from motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike. The Woodside Bridge is a prime example of an older piece of infrastructure that is no longer adequate to meet the needs of or guarantee safety for a growing population.
The Corvallis Civic Club believes it is well past time to move from talk to action. We urge the Ravalli County Commission, as the elected officials responsible for health and safety in the unincorporated Corvallis community, to give the highest priority to creating a safe bridge crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists. We urge the commission to work with the state and federal governments on upgrading the bridge to meet current needs.
The issue of safety at the Woodside Bridge is not going to go away. We sincerely hope that action is not delayed until after a foreseeable and preventable tragedy takes place. We urge Ravalli County to be proactive in developing and implementing a solution to this serious problem.