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County Commission tentatively approve raising the fee at Thursday hearing about improving earthquake standards

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Burnside Bridge does not meet current earthquake standards.Vehicle registration fees will likely nearly triple in Multnomah County in 2021 after commissioners voted on plans to pay for seismic upgrades of the Burnside Bridge.

Multnomah County commissioners cast two major votes on Thursday, Nov. 14. First, they confirmed the three bridge rebuild options and criteria for a study. Second, they decided how to raise local money for these.

Commissioners tentatively voted to increase yearly vehicle registration fees in Multnomah County from $19 to $56 beginning in 2021. But the fee increase requires two votes and they will vote again next month.

The county is also seeking regional, state and federal funds for the project, which will be its largest capital project to date. The estimated cost is between $550 million and $850 million dollars.

On top of that, construction could last between four and six years. That means the completion of the Burnside Bridge seismic upgrade is about nine years away.

Experts say that currently, none of the downtown Portland bridges are strong enough to withstand a large earthquake. It would take weeks before any of the bridges would be usable after an event like the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

"This lifeline to be able to move both emergency services and people to where we provided services," said Chris Voss, Director of Multnomah County Emergency Management "[It] would certainly be critical for us and all emergency services organizations."

Both new bridge options would be about 106-feet wide and about the same height as the current bridge, though one would split on the east side to connect to Northeast Couch Street.

You can read more about the county's plans here.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.


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