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The public's choice of a bridge with good sight lines and few columns was approved Oct. 2

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY - The public wants the Burnside Bridge replacement to preserve sight lines of the city.

Officials voted to accept the proposed long span Burnside Bridge on Oct. 2, as well as a plan to close the old bridge completely to traffic during construction.

The long span was chosen over three other plans: to retrofit the old bridge, a short span replacement and a long span replacement with more supports.

Elected and appointed policymakers were unanimous in accepting the recommendations of the Community Task Force.

The Community Task Force recommended the long span in September. After listening to the public they went for an option that would preserve sight lines and views of things such as the skyline and the Portland Oregon sign, reduce the number of pillars underneath the bridge where Saturday Market is held, and preserve the Burnside Skatepark under the east end.

The Community Task Force's online open house had 25,000 visitors, of which nearly 7,000 took the survey. Nearly 42,000 homes and businesses in the project area received mailers.

County bridge guru MIke Pullen said that the nonprofit that runs the Burnside Skatepark spread the survey far and wide to its global fan base. This gave skaters around a world a say in protecting the famous park with the long span. The Burnside Skatepark will be temporarily closed but will survive intact.

A long span bridge will be higher then the current bridge, which should obstruct the view from buildings on either river bank, but may also reveal new views.

The policy group was co-chaired by Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson. It makes recommendations to Multnomah County, which owns the bridge, and to the Federal Highway Administration, which must approve the project's final environmental study.

The bridge must be able to withstand a major earthquake. If that happens while it is open, it must be able to close right away, and function again in a month.

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY - Design of the Burnside Bridge will happen in 2021. Here are some possible models.

A new bridge will cost an estimated $825 million. No decision has been made yet on the design by HDR Engineering. The three bridge structure types the team is considering for the Burnside Bridge Long Span are Tied Arch (like the Fremont Bridge), Cable Stayed (like the Tilikum Crossing) and Through Truss (like the Hawthorne, Steel or Broadway).

The mechanism for letting tall ships though could be a bascule bridge, like the current Burnside Bridge that looks like two arms raising as it opens, or a lift span like the Hawthorne Bridge, where a horizontal section of roadway rises between two towers.

Construction is expected to start in 2022 and be completed in 2024.

Building a temporary bridge would have cost $90 million and two years. Instead, the Burnside Bridge will be closed completely and traffic rerouted.

Multnomah County's Board of Commissioners will consider and vote on the policy group's recommendation on Oct. 29.


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