Sauvie Island gets a new bridge!!
My first memory of crossing
over Multnomah Channel to visit Sauvie Island was over 24 years ago. I rode with my sister to a New Year's Eve party being held at the home of a family from the church she was attending. Little did I know that I would be married to their son in less than 16 months---but back to the bridge. My first memories include seeing a sign that I was not aware of ever seeing before~'Men Below Please Don't Throw". Interesting... since it was dark, I was curious as to what men were doing under the bridge on New Year's Eve. I guess my thoughts shouldn't have been so literal. I realized later that there was a road and riverhomes under the bridge. ok....so fast forward 24 years or so. Yes, I did marry the son, am now a farmer's wife and have driven over the Sauvie Island Bridge numerous times each day. It wasn't until several years ago, that as an island resident, I understood the importance of the bridge and how different my life would be if I didn't have convenient access off the island. We are surrounded by water after all, and I don't own a boat!
The first bridge was built in 1950. My mother-in-law lived here when islanders had to put themselves and their cars on a ferry to cross over the channel. I have heard stories of her sister's boyfriend from Portland who would conveniently miss the last ferry of the evening and have to stay over on her parent's couch. I have also heard that the ferry only operated until 7 pm. Imagine that. My life style would really have to change!!
Sauvie Island is an agricultural community. There are still a handful of us who make our living farming the land AND it is our only source of income. There are others living on the island who enjoy their slice of paradise, but work other places...which means they commute to work. Farmers need the bridge to transport their commodities off the island, to market, so to speak. With the modernization of trucks, roads, etc, our little bridge was not able to accommodate the weight limit of the ag trucks, as well as all the equipment that goes back and forth for building roads, dikes and homes on the island. Upon inspection, small cracks were found on the bridge and it was time to start thinking about building a new bridge! So...several years later...and many hours and dollars of investment came to the point of celebration yesterday!! We had a bridge dedication on the NEW bridge!! It was a day to look back and also a day to celebrate the present and future. Part of the celebration included a parade, with a tractor pulled wagon of "Pre-Bridge" residents of the island who lived here before the first bridge was built. My mother-in-law was a part of that elite group, and she rode and waved to all of us with joy and pride. What a heritage.
We got to walk over the new bridge yesterday, but I wanted to remember my last drive over the old bridge...so I was thinking and planning for it. Our sons had to leave early this morning for football camp, so I tried to motive them to remember their last trip over as we left the island at 7:15 this morning. On my return trip, I noted the time I was crossing...7:58am and looked at my speed....18 miles an hour. We have been driving only 20 miles per hour for a couple of years, to help preserve the bridge structure. I wondered what the speed limit would be over the new bridge and also thought about my first time crossing. And then I began to wonder why I was in such a hurry to drive faster, to rush thru life...oh, how it goes by so quickly on it's own. Maybe it would be nice to have my kids all home by 7 pm!! or to have to put more planning into my trips to town, especially with the price of gas these days!! Time moves on and things change. This change is good. A new bridge for the island....but if you asked some of those 'pre-bridgers', I bet they would be happy to tell you about the 'good ol' days'!