Mayor calls new price tag of Sellwood Bridge 'very frustrating'

Mayor calls new price tag of Sellwood Bridge 'very frustrating'

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The price of the new Sellwood Bridge just went up and Portland Mayor Sam Adams is not happy about it.

The new cost is $30 million more than the original price tag. The city will have to pay for part of that.

"The fact that, you know, they're coming to us, asking for $11 million more dollars means I will have to make budget cuts in the Portland Bureau of Transportation," Adams said. "Very disappointing. Very frustrating."

But what made the price jump to nearly $300 million? And what will have to be cut to make that work.

Multnomah County officials are running the project and they said it's not wise to do expensive studies to put together estimates at the beginning because it's not clear if the project will even go through.

Now is the time officials do the in-depth and more costly studies. Those studies are now revealing new facts about building the new bridge.

Bike riders complain about how scary the bridge is due to the cracks in it and its general need of repair. But repairs won't fix everything. The bridge needs to be replaced, complete with a new, higher price.

"That will affect basic maintenance and basic safety work for the city and our streets and roads," Adams said.

County officials said there are a number of reasons for the price hike. First, the hillside on Highway 43 is a problem. County workers must cut into the hillside to make the bridge. Officials said neighbors originally wanted a natural look and no retaining wall. Now, county officials said they found the hillside is not enough without some sort of support. All of that will cost $3-4 million.

Then there's the dirt under Highway 43. It's contaminated after years of railroad and car traffic. County officials said they found more contaminated dirt than expected. They have to get rid of it and can't just send it to a landfill. That process will cost another $3-4 million.

And finally, materials -- such as the steel for the new bridge, along with fuel. Before, county officials got estimates. Now, they're getting actual bids and the actual costs of materials is higher.

All this is frustrating for Adams. But some bike riders said the cost is less important than a new, safe bridge.

Adams hasn't announced what kind of budget cuts will have to take place in order to pay the higher cost. On Thursday, Multnomah County officials will vote on the final design for the new bridge.