Something magical will finally happen this weekend: The Portland Bureau of Transportation will install the Flanders Crossing Bridge over I-405.
It’s a day we’ve dreamt about for 15 years, ever since former PBOT Commissioner (then Mayor) Sam Adams hatched the wild idea to recycle the old Sauvie Island Bridge span at the same location. We’ve written at length about why this $9.5 million bridge will be so important for bicycling in northwest Portland — both figuratively and literally.
A major milestone in the construction of this bridge isn’t the only magical thing that will take place this weekend. ODOT also plans to do a full closure of I-405 between Highway 26 and the Fremont Bridge to facilitate the work crews. The closure will last from Friday night (10:00 pm) to Monday morning (5:00 am). If you want to watch the historic action — cranes on each side of the freeway will move the 355,000 bridge into place — PBOT says the work will begin around 9:30 am on Saturday (1/23) and will last about eight hours.
The closure will also give us a chance to feel what it’s like to remove a a freeway that goes through the heart of our city. Every year momentum builds for urban highway removals and there’s even a $10 billion bill floating around the U.S. Senate for that expressed purpose. Portland should be in that conversation. Both I-5 and I-405 are perfect candidates for removal and redevelopment. The amount of space and life our city would receive in exchange would be truly transformational on many levels.
For now we’ll focus on the new bridge, but let’s not forget that we won’t transform mobility in Portland simply by adding more bicycling and walking spaces: We must also drastically reduce driving space.
Fingers crossed that this installation goes forward. PBOT says windy weather could postpone it. If all goes according to plan we’ll be using the new bridge by spring 2021. Check the project website for full details.
Oh, and where should we meet up for the viewing party on Saturday? I hope to see some of you out there!
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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