Bridges

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As you would expect of any city with two major rivers running through it, Portland is a city of bridges. Some of these are more pretty to look at than others, but at one time or another most Portlanders have been over every single one of them.

Bridges Over the Willamette River

These are the bridges spanning the Willamette River, which runs right through the center of the city of Portland. They’re listed here from south to north, and this list doesn’t include the railroad-only bridge just south of the St. Johns Bridge.

  • Sellwood Bridge (1925) – This one touches down in the Sellwood neighborhood on its eastern side, where it turns into SE Tacoma St., and is reachable via Macadam Ave./Hwy 43 on the west side. It’s quite narrow, with one lane only in each direction, and has a notable sign on one end reminding passersby that there are “Men Below, Please Don’t Throw.” Despite its small size, it’s a heavily trafficked bridge because it’s the only one for miles in each direction. It’s also been noted for several years that this is the Portland bridge most in need of structural attention, as it was the city’s first span bridge. There is a sidewalk on the Sellwood Bridge.
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  • Ross Island Bridge (1926) – This bridge is Powell Blvd./Hwy 26 on its east side and Hwy 26 on its west side. There are two lanes going in each direction, and there is a sidewalk on the north side. The bridge passes near to Ross Island, a small island on the Willamette, but doesn’t actually touch the island.
  • Marquam Bridge (1966) – The Marquam (pronounced MAR-kum) carries I-5 over the river just south of downtown Portland. It’s a double-decker bridge, with northbound traffic on the top deck and southbound traffic on the bottom.
  • Hawthorne Bridge (1910) – This bridge connects Hawthorne Blvd. on the east side with Madison St. on the west. It has a vertical lift in the center to let boat traffic through, and is the oldest vertical lift bridge in the United States still in operation. There are wide sidewalks on both sides of the bridge which are frequented by pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Morrison Bridge (1958) – Appropriately, this bridge connects Morrison St. on both sides of the river. It’s equipped to let boat traffic through with what’s called a “bascule” style lift. There are sidewalks on both sides of the bridge.
  • Burnside Bridge (1926) – This bridge connects Burnside St. on both sides of the river and opens in the same way as the Morrison, with a “bascule” lift. The ends of the bridge provide the rooves for a skate park on the east side and the Portland Saturday Market on the west. There are sidewalks on both sides of the Burnside Bridge.
  • Steel Bridge (1912) – The Steel Bridge carries Highway 1W from one side of the river to the other, and is both a rail and automobile bridge – trains and sidewalks are on the lower deck, while cars, MAX Light Rail and the vintage streetcar are on the upper deck. This bridge has a vertical lift to let boat traffic pass.
  • Broadway Bridge (1913) – This is another “bascule” bridge that connects Broadway on both sides of the river. It’s another bridge with a “bascule” style lift, it has two lanes of traffic in each direction and wide sidewalks on both sides.
  • Fremont Bridge (1973) – I-405 crosses this double-decker bridge from one side of the river to the other, with southbound traffic on the upper deck and northbound traffic on the lower. There are exits for US-30 on both decks of the bridge as well, and each deck carries four lanes of traffic.
  • St. Johns Bridge (1931) – This bridge connects the St. Johns neighborhood on th east side with a primarily industrial area in Linnton on the west. It’s the city’s tallest bridge, the only suspension bridge in the Willamette Valley, and is one of Portland’s prettiest bridges. Unfortunately, it’s the one least seen by visitors to Portland because it’s so far from downtown.

Bridges Over the Columbia River

The Columbia River marks the boundary between Oregon and Washington State, and there are three bridges which cross the Columbia from the Portland Metro area. Only two of them, however, are for automobile traffic. They’re listed here from west to east.

  • Interstate Bridge (1917-1918) – This bridge connects I-5 between Oregon and Washington, and is actually two bridges right next to each other. One carries northbound traffic and the other carries southbound, with three lanes in each direction. There is a vertical lift in the Interstate Bridge to allow boat traffic to pass.
  • Glenn Jackson Memorial Bridge (1982) – The Glenn Jackson carries I-205 over the Columbia River with four lanes in each direction plus a wide bicycle/pedestrian sidewalk between the two directions. There are barriers separating cars from the people on the sidewalk, so it’s safer than it sounds like it would be.

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