Neighbors celebrate new ‘122nd Ave. Bridge’

Here’s why Pleasant Valley neighborhood folks turned out to celebrate this new outer East Portland bridge …

Neighbors and City of Portland officials gather for the dedication of the 122nd Avenue Bridge.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although the new “122nd Avenue Bridge”, near Leach Botanical Garden, opened to pedestrians and vehicle traffic on March 19, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) didn’t follow with an official dedication of the crossing until the morning of May 9.

>> To follow the closing and demolition of the old bridge, to the rebuilding and quiet opening of the new one, CLICK HERE see our story, “New ‘Leach Garden Bridge’ finally open”.

“John Leach would have been positively impressed with this new bridge,” smiles Pleasant Valley neighbor Ann Kracke.

The fact there wasn’t any punch or a celebratory cake was okay with Pleasant Valley neighbors, said Ann Kracke: “We’re just so glad the bridge is open. I’ve lived here since 1967, just up on the hill, and the 3+ years of detouring has been a burden.

“The bridge is beautiful; I love the natural pattern on the walls; the bridge is lovely,” Kracke told East Portland News.

Having gotten to know John Leach over the years, Kracke conjectured, “If John were still alive, no doubt he would have been out here by the gate to the garden – commenting, giving directions, supervising – and smiling and waving, like he did do to many people who went by over the years.

“I think Mr. Leach would’ve been very impressed – positively impressed – with the final result,” Kracke added.

Pleasant Valley Neighborhood Association Chair Dale Shetler honors neighborhood activist Paul Grosjean – for his prodding of officials to speed up the project’s timetable.

Noting that the Pleasant Valley Neighborhood Association (PVNA) area is large, bounding on the southern edges of the Powellhurst-Gilbert and Centennial neighborhoods, the new bridge is very important to many who live and work in the area, remarked PVNA Chair Dale Shetler at the ceremony.

“In most parts of our neighborhood, emergency response time went from six minutes up to about 15 minutes – even longer, in inclement weather – when the bridge was out, So yes, this bridge is very important to us,” Shetler commented to East Portland News. “It’s all pretty amazing that it got done, because there were several different agencies gathering funds to pay for the bridge.

“Originally the project wasn’t scheduled even to start until least 2020,” Shetler said. “It was Paul Grosjean (1944 – 2018), our neighbor, and an effective a neighborhood activist for 17 years, who really helped lead the drive to get this project funded.

“Paul worked to compress the calendar, meeting downtown with the PBOT, then meeting with the players on the state level; writing letters to senators and representatives both in the state and in the nation’s capital, because to us, although it this had been declared ‘an emergency’, the original timetable was just very lengthy,” recalled Shetler.

The new bridge portends some large-scale improvements beginning at the garden this summer, says Leach Garden Friends Executive Director David Porter.

“The new bridge is really transformational; it is symbolic of the way that we are transforming the garden,” agreed Leach Garden Friends Executive Director David Porter. “It’s elegant, and beautiful, and it’s aligned with nature around us, so that when people come to experience the garden, it’s a holistic experience that all fits together.”

Porter pointed out that the new bridge improves the Johnson Creek watershed’s health by reducing flood impacts, with the new bridge’s free span over the chasm.

During his formal remarks to group, Porter said, “This new bridge is both physical and symbolic; it changes entire experience of arriving to the Garden; and, with sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, visitors can safely look upstream at Johnson Creek, and take in the natural beauty of Leach Botanical Garden.”

PBOT Commissioner, Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly commends contractors and governmental officials for completing the bridge.

“This is a very complicated project, as some of you are aware,” said Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly to the group. “The new bridge is a big improvement, with sidewalks on both sides, and ADA accessibility. It’s built to serve for many decades to come, and is so beautiful! We want to thank everyone for being so patient.”

The ribbon is cut, officially dedicating the 122nd Avenue Bridge.

With that, the group moved to the bridge where, with a snip of the ceremonial ribbon, the bridge was officially dedicated, and without further fanfare, the group disbanded.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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