Portlanders already recycle bottles, phone books and cell phones—so why not an entire bridge?

In response to a question after his City Club speech last Friday, city Commissioner Sam Adams said he was mulling a plan to move the Sauvie Island Bridge to span the smoggy gulch of I-405 at Northwest Flanders Street.

"We'll probably have to put it in storage for a little while to raise the money," Adams said during City Club's question-and-answer period.

The idea, first proposed in 2005 by ex-Portland Office of Transportation director Vic Rhodes, is aimed at creating a new right-of-way for cyclists and pedestrians.

The 35-feet-wide bridge, which must be replaced anyway because it can't handle heavy truck traffic to and from Sauvie Island, would be cut up and part of it barged to Flanders and I-405 for reassembly.

The transplanted 200-feet-long, 500-ton section would become part of Flanders' transformation from a rush-hour parking lot for cars to a cycling wonderland. And that, in turn, Adams says, would give cyclists a new route from the Steel Bridge to Northwest 23rd Avenue, including a bike-through coffee stand.

Certainly, Adams is not the first city official to propose alternatives for the space above I-405. When Adams was Mayor Vera Katz's chief of staff, Katz proposed covering I-405 entirely. That idea never advanced. But Adams says using Flanders as a major cyclist route could be a viable alternative to the proposed Burnside-Couch couplet. The controversial couplet would create a pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly route down West Burnside Street but has sparked opposition because it would load Northwest Couch Street with most of the diverted car traffic.

Adams is trying to find the estimated $2 million to $3 million for the bridge project, which faces another obstacle: The 57-year-old span is covered in lead paint that must be carefully stripped before the bridge can be moved.