The Willamette River Transit Bridge

Willamette River Transit BridgeThe Willamette River Transit Bridge is part of a larger project to extend 7.3 miles of the Portland Light Rail (MAX) to Milwaukie, Oregon (a suburb to the south). The total cost of the light rail extension has been a topic covered extensively by local media – costs are estimated around $1.4 billion. At up to $134 million for the bridge, it’s the single costliest piece of the light rail project. The bridge itself will be the first of its kind in the United States in terms of it being built for sole use by pedestrians, bicycles, buses, light rail, and streetcar. No private cars will be allowed. The multi-use transit crossing will be the first bridge built over the Willamette River in 37 years.

The project is slated to start next spring, and will be completed by 2015. The bridge will link a future Oregon Health and Science University Schnitzer Campus on the west side slated for construction in 2012 with the OMSI museum and an opera house on the east side.

The objective of the bridge is to provide connectivity between the east and west for multiple modes of transportation. The bridge will also support planned development and future land uses. When built, the new Willamette River Transite Bridge will be a showcase that reflects the Portland region with its core values. It will also serve as a symbol that reflects current technology and innovation.

Willamette River Transit Bridge

This summer, the project learned that the Federal Transit Authority would provide less funding than anticipated (50 percent of the total $1.4 billion price tag instead of the 60 percent it requested). In a short amount of time, the region pulled together to identify cuts to fit the project to the new budget, as well as to obtain additional local funding. The region produced a trimmed-down project in less than two months, one that still stretches from PSU to Milwaukie to Oak Grove and still includes 10 new stations.

The region has been able to problem-solve quickly and efficiently because neighborhoods, businesses, transit riders and jurisdictional partners have been in agreement for a number of years: Building the Portland-Milwaukie light-rail project is key to continued regional livability, equity and growth. Construction is just around the corner. And it won’t be long before our transit system serves more people and more places than ever before.

If no major delays are encountered, the bridge will be completed in the fall of 2015, when Portland and surrounding Multnomah County’s population is projected to be 30 percent more than it was in 1980.

As a local resident that rides my bicycle around the city, and as a resident who frequently uses public transportation, I am personally excited to see this project get started. Moreover, I particularly love the design that has been presented and selected by the advisory committee. The views that peds and bicyclists will have from the bridge will add to the urban environment while serving as a modern icon of sustainability. Portland just being Portland…

To view the latest details about the Willamette River Bridge and the Portland-Milwaukie light rail project go to

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