“I’d like to see a bridge for our future… but it will take visionary leadership from county, and I haven’t seen that yet.”
— Mark Ginsberg, advisory committee member representing The Street Trust
Multnomah County has reached a milestone in their project to make the Burnside Bridge “earthquake ready”. They’ve whittled down a list of 100 options to just two: an “enhanced seismic retrofit” or a full replacement.
The Burnside is a designated “lifeline response route” which means it has special priority when it comes to disaster and long-range resiliency planning. Owned and operated by Multnomah County, the bridge is nearly 100 years old and it shows many signs of age. A separate maintenance project is going on now.
We’ve been watching the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project from afar until this point. With the options narrowed down, the County will now delve more deeply into each one of them in order to determine the future of the bridge.
Here’s where the process stands today…
We’ve got new details and graphics on Multnomah County’s Burnside Bridge Maintenance Project that will have a big impact on your use of this crucial central city connection.
As we shared last March, the County is spending $20 million to upgrade and repair the bridge surface, railings, sidewalks, steel frame, electrical system, and more. To make it work, they need to store large construction machines and vehicles on the bridge. The work zone takes up nearly half the width of the bridge. That means the seven-lane bridge (which includes two bike lanes) will be pared down to three lanes and two paths that will be shared by everyone who’s not inside an automobile.
Back in March we didn’t have all the details about lane widths and configurations. Now we do: The County put out an update yesterday.
Here’s what to expect:
To improve circulation of vehicle traffic through a very fast-growing part of the central city, the Portland Bureau of Transportation decided to expand the road network. With two new lanes, people can now travel on a new road between NE 3rd Avenue and Couch Street.
Typically we’d be skeptical — possibly outraged — if PBOT added new lane-miles in the urban core; but in this case it’s fine because the new street is carfree. It’s the most efficient and humane way to utilize this important space adjacent to three new buildings that tower over the east end of the Burnside Bridge and have a combined 300 residential units and over 100,000 square feet of office and retail space.
Next month Multnomah County and private contractor will kick off a major rehabilitation project for the Burnside Bridge. The project will nip and tuck the historic span in hopes of getting another 15-20 years of service out of it.
According to construction plans released by HDR (the contractor hired to perform the work), there will be significant changes to bridge operations for two years while the project is completed. From November of this year through November 2019, the plan is to have bicycle users share a sidewalk/sidepath with people walking. The plan will also reduce the number of standard vehicle lanes from five the three.