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The month-long closure is disrupting traffic across the Willamette River crossing between the Rose Quarter and Old Town.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Steel Bridge connects east and west Portland.The Steel Bridge closed to all traffic Sunday for a TriMet project that will last until Aug. 29.

The Steel Bridge MAX Improvements project will replace nearly 8,700 feet of light rail and other track components, beginning on Aug. 2, resulting in the closure of the upper deck to all vehicles, MAX light rail, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Shuttle buses will be running between the Rose Quarter, Union Station and Old Town, while the bus lines 4, 8, 35, 44 and 77, along with all vehicle traffic, will be detoured to other bridges. Pedestrians and bicyclists can still use the Steel Bridge's lower deck pathway to cross the Willamette River.

Due to physical distancing requirements, room on board the shuttle buses will be limited. For those traveling during the construction, 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.

COURTESY TRIMET - Shuttle buses will run between Interstate/Rose Quarter and Lloyd Center/NE 11th Ave stations, serving stops near the closed stations.

The 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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