The Bridges of Portland Oregon

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Portland, Oregon, a city known for its vibrant culture and natural beauty, is also famous for its numerous bridges that span the Willamette River. Often referred to as “Bridge City” or “Bridgetown,” Portland boasts a total of 12 bridges, each with its own unique characteristics and history. In this article, we will explore these remarkable structures and uncover the stories behind them.

1. St. Johns Bridge

The St. Johns Bridge, a magnificent suspension bridge, connects the neighborhoods of North Portland and Northwest Portland. Standing proudly as the tallest bridge in Portland, it offers stunning views of the surrounding area and the river below. The bridge’s elegant design and towering presence make it an iconic landmark of the city.

2. Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge

Serving exclusively for train transportation, the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge is a vital link in the city’s rail network. Approximately 30-35 trains cross this bridge every day, ensuring the efficient movement of goods and cargo. The bridge’s sturdy structure and functional design exemplify Portland’s commitment to maintaining its transportation infrastructure.

3. Fremont Bridge

As part of Interstate 405, the Fremont Bridge holds the distinction of being the longest bridge in the state of Oregon. This impressive structure features two levels, known as decks. The upper deck carries westbound traffic, while the lower deck accommodates eastbound vehicles. The bridge’s strategic location and expansive capacity contribute to the smooth flow of traffic in the city.

4. Broadway Bridge

Dating back to 1913, the Broadway Bridge is a testament to Portland’s rich history. This bridge serves as a vital connection for cars, trucks, and the Portland Streetcar, linking the Lloyd District with downtown Portland. Its enduring presence and architectural charm evoke a sense of nostalgia, as it stands as a witness to the city’s growth and progress.

5. Steel Bridge

Opened in 1912, the Steel Bridge is an engineering marvel that showcases Portland’s innovative spirit. This double-decked bridge incorporates a unique feature: both decks can be raised and lowered to accommodate boat traffic underneath. The lower deck provides a pathway for bicycles, pedestrians, and long trains, while the upper deck carries cars and shorter MAX trains. This dynamic bridge truly embodies the city’s dedication to functionality and versatility.

6. Burnside Bridge

Constructed in 1926, the Burnside Bridge is a robust concrete structure that carries significant historical and cultural significance. Boasting a skateboard park under its east side and hosting the renowned Portland Saturday Market on its west side, the bridge has become a vibrant hub of activity. Its frequent openings for boats further exemplify the harmonious coexistence of transportation and leisure in Portland.

7. Morrison Bridge

One of the busiest bridges in the city, the Morrison Bridge serves as a vital transportation artery. While the current bridge was built in 1958, its location has been home to several previous bridges. Notably, the Morrison Bridge features captivating lights that illuminate the night sky with various colors and patterns, adding a touch of enchantment to the cityscape.

8. Hawthorne Bridge

Dubbed the oldest highway bridge in Portland, the Hawthorne Bridge is steeped in history and charm. Its construction dates back to 1918, making it a true testament to the city’s heritage. Every day, thousands of cyclists traverse its paths, making it a popular route for active commuters. Additionally, the bridge accommodates approximately 800 buses, serving as a crucial link in Portland’s public transportation system and facilitating the movement of thousands of people daily.

9. Marquam Bridge

A prominent feature of Interstate 5, the Marquam Bridge holds the distinction of being the busiest bridge in the entire state of Oregon. With over 140,000 vehicles crossing it each day, it serves as a vital transportation lifeline for the city. Despite its practical significance, some residents hold differing opinions about its aesthetics, expressing their subjective views on its architectural appeal.

10. Tilikum Crossing

Opened in 2015, the Tilikum Crossing derives its name from the Native American word for “people.” It is often referred to as the “Bridge of the People.” Unlike other bridges in Portland, the Tilikum Crossing strictly prohibits cars and trucks, dedicating its infrastructure to pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation. It serves as a vital link for pedestrians, the Portland Streetcar, the MAX Orange Line, and buses, providing a safe and sustainable mode of transportation.

11. Ross Island Bridge

The Ross Island Bridge, also known as Highway 26, opened its doors in 1926. It acquired its name from an island situated in the river. Unlike some of the other bridges, the Ross Island Bridge remains fixed and does not open for boats. It serves as an important transportation artery, catering to the needs of motorists traveling on Highway 26.

12. Sellwood Bridge

Originally built in 1925, the Sellwood Bridge underwent a replacement project in 2016 to enhance its seismic resilience and overall safety. This engineering endeavor sought to make the bridge more robust and capable of withstanding earthquakes. The Sellwood Bridge, while vital for vehicular traffic, also stands as a symbol of Portland’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its residents.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the bridges of Portland, Oregon, stand as testaments to the city’s rich history, remarkable engineering feats, and commitment to efficient transportation. From the towering St. Johns Bridge to the iconic Steel Bridge, each structure carries its own unique story and significance. These bridges not only facilitate the movement of people and goods but also contribute to the city’s cultural fabric, offering breathtaking views and recreational opportunities. As Portland continues to evolve, these bridges remain steadfast, connecting communities and serving as symbols of unity and progress.

FAQs

1. Which bridge is the oldest in Portland?

The Hawthorne Bridge holds the distinction of being the oldest highway bridge in Portland, built in 1910.

2. How many bridges cross the Willamette River in Portland?

There are a total of 12 bridges that span the Willamette River in Portland.

3. What is the busiest bridge in Oregon?

The Marquam Bridge, part of Interstate 5, is the busiest bridge in the state, with over 140,000 vehicles crossing it daily.

4. Can cars and trucks use the Tilikum Crossing?

No, the Tilikum Crossing is exclusively reserved for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation.

5. When was the Sellwood Bridge replaced?

The Sellwood Bridge was replaced in 2016 to improve its seismic resilience and overall safety.
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