Multnomah County, Oregon: Influencing Bridge Construction

Overview

The Broadway Bridge crossing the Willamette River in Portland is a vital transportation link – and it desperately needed a new deck and others repairs. The question: Totally shut it down and get the job done as fast and economically as possible? Or, only partially close it during renovation, maintaining limited traffic flow?

Challenge

Multnomah County retained CFM to reach stakeholders to learn their views on various closure options for the heavily used span. The challenge was to find a better way to get feedback than holding a series of public meetings, which rarely give a clear view of public opinion.

Approach

CFM used an online survey. Would-be respondents were directed to a page on the county’s Web site detailing the pros and cons of the options. News releases generated stories, which in turn drove up participation. As a group, survey takers preferred a total closure. But, the survey allowed the county to better discern undercurrents. Business operators on both sides of the river strongly believed an outright closure would harm them.

Result

Print and electronic media covered the story as CFM fetched responses from almost 1,700 persons, far more than would have showed up at public meetings. The comments gave county officials a clear sense of the priorities. The county modified the construction schedule to allow reduced use of the span during reconstruction.