Five different block parties to celebrate bridge opening July 31, as well as organized bike rides.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - The Earl Blumenauer Bridge looking north uphill, a week before it opens on Sunday July 31, 2022.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation gave the media and the congressman a sneak peek of the Congressman Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge Monday. While pedestrians and skateboarders have already hopped the fences to use the bridge, it officially opens Sunday, July 31, with a series of bike rides and plaza parties on and nearby the $19 million bridge.

Dubbed as "a car-free connection between two of the Rose City's fastest growing neighborhoods" (the Lloyd Center and the Central East Side). The congressman posed with his Cannondale bicycle, then walked north and south along the bridge, talking to architects, engineers and construction workers.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Man meets bridge: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (black helmet) gets a close up look at the bridge named in his honor, The Congressman Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, which spans I-84.

Some things stood out immediately:

  • The grade is steep, 5 percent, running downhill from the north/Lloyd end.
  • Anti-camping boulders are already in place in the landscaping areas, although officials referred to them as "landscape elements" for kids to climb and discourage long-term sitting.
  • Pedestrians have the west side of the bridge, and bikes have the east side.
  • The west side has a wide, steel leaning rail for leaning while resting and looking at the view of downtown
  • Skateboarders have already made their mark on the concrete with greased trucks, but deterrents will be installed before the opening, according to PBOT
  • The 10-feet fence side fans outward to give an open feeling while still conforming to rules set by Union Pacific and the Oregon Department of Transportation. They want to protect the train tracks and freeway below from potential flying objects.
  • Bridge architect John Breshears, who worked closely with engineer Craig Totten's team at KPFF, said the bridge almost exactly matched the initial back-of-the-envelope sketch they made after their first day riding their bikes around the site. "That's extraordinarily unusual," Breshears said. He is also very proud of the leaning rail. "It's a big, elliptical piece of steel, and we worked hard to make sure that wasn't value engineered out to save money."

    PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - 'Landscape elements' to deter people from sitting or lying too long have been installed around the  Congressman Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, which spans I-84. Traffic noise is too loud for extended conversation too.

    Congressman Blumenauer talked about the area's history and how Los Angeles oil tycoon Ralph Lloyd bought land around Sullivan Gulch, intending the Lloyd neighborhood to be an extension of downtown. He added that the bridge, which will be part of the future six-mile linear park called the Green Loop, has been part of Blumenauer's vision since he was commissioner of public works for the City of Portland thirty years ago. "This opens up the connection big time. The anchor is going to be the (Lloyd Center) mall opening it up and making it more diverse, including a lot of housing."

    COURTESY IMAGE: PBOT - The new bridge will cross I-84 at Sullivan's Gulch.

    Blumenauer added, "It's an addition to a great network of non-motorized transportation, and when the big one (earthquake) hits, this the only bridge across I-84 which will remain standing. It can take emergency vehicles — it's a little wider (24 feet) — and it will make a big difference for our community."

    When: 11:30 am, Sunday, July 31. Visitors are encouraged to arrive by 11:30 a.m.

    Where: The Northeast Seventh Avenue and Northeast Flanders Street intersection on the south side of the bridge.

    What: Community celebration and Blumenauer Bridge opening ceremony.

    For updates contact ODOT

    You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

    Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!


    - Blumenauer bike bridge taking shape, if a tad tardy

    - Blumenauer Bridge installation Oct. 8-11