TriMet project will close Steel Bridge for a month
TriMet announced Wednesday, July 8, that the Steel Bridge will be closed for a month for one of its largest capital improvement project.
The closure will last from Aug. 2 to 29. During the work, shuttle buses will take riders across the Willamette River. Due to physical distancing requirements, room on board will be limited.
For those traveling during the consruction, TriMet encourages MAX riders throughout the system to plan an extra 30 to 45 minutes for trips during the disruption. Riders may consider adjusting trips to avoid peak travel times.
The Steel Bridge is a critical link in the regional transit system. All MAX trains and several bus lines use it to connect east and west Portland. The bridge links the Rose Quarter and Lloyd District in the east to the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood in the west.
During the construction, the upper deck of the Steel Bridge will be closed to auto, bus, MAX light rail, bicycle and pedestrian traffic to accommodate the work. All MAX lines — Blue, Green, Orange, Red and Yellow — will be disrupted. To move people around the disruption, shuttle buses will depart about every two to five minutes, serving Rose Quarter, Union Station/NW 5th & Glisan and Old Town/Chinatown stations.
In addition, bus lines 4, 8, 35, 44, and 77, as well as all auto traffic, will be detoured to other bridges. Pedestrian and bicyclists will be able to cross the Steel Bridge on the lower-deck pathway, which will remain open during the entire project.
The Steel Bridge MAX Improvements project will upgrade the signal system, tracks, switches and other components on and around the 108-year-old bridge, which will improve reliability and keep trains running on time while reducing disruptions and delays.
The Steel Bridge is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. Opened in 1912, it is now one of the most multimodal bridges in the world. The lower deck carries railroad and bicycle/pedestrian traffic, while the upper deck carries road, light rail and bus traffic. It is also the only double-deck bridge in the world with independent lifts, and the second oldest vertical-lift bridge in North America, after the nearby Hawthorne Bridge.
Despite the project, TriMet is considering rerouting MAX traffic from the Steel Bridge to a tunnel under downtown Portland in the future. Metro, the elected regional government, has tentatively included $50 million to study such a project in the transportation funding measure it is planning for the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
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