County task force chooses long span to replace Burnside Bridge
A Multnomah County task force working on seismic improvement plans for the 94-year-old Burnside Bridge recommended Monday, June 15, that the county replace it with an $825 million structure.
Members of the Community Task Force for the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project's recommendation came after 18 months of work and 16 meetings, according to county officials. An online open house and survey planned through August will give the public a chance to discuss the recommendation and replacement of the bridge.
Ideas and opinions from the open house and survey will go Oct. 2 to the project's Policy Group. The group, made up of elected and appointed local leaders, will then vote on the task force's preferred alternative. The county's board of commissioners also will vote on the recommendation.
More comments will be collected on a draft environmental impact statement for the project that should be done in 2021. After that, the county will ask the Federal Highway Administration to approve the project sometime next year.
Downtown Portland's Burnside Bridge was constructed in 1926 and carries about 40,000 vehicles each day. It's about 2,241 feet long and is considered an emergency lifeline across the Willamette River. Because of unstable soil on both sides of the river, the bridge is vulnerable to a big earthquake, county officials said.
Burnside Bridge is one of six Willamette River bridges maintained by Multnomah County. The county also is responsible for 20 other regional bridges.
The recommended long-span bridge alternative would be built in the same location and alignment, county official said. It has fewest support columns of four alternatives studied, something that could avoid construction in the hazard zones near the river and restricted spaces between lanes of Interstate 5 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the east side, officials said. The proposal also had the lowest cost of the four alternatives.
Design work on the proposed replacement is expected to take from 2021 to 2024. Construction could begin in 2024 and take more than four years.
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