Portland – aka The City of Roses and Bridge City – updated with new info

I was recently introduced to a new blog. Bennie is a friend of Sue’s. Bennie is spending a lot of time in Portland working and has posted some about the area. Bennie is staying at a hotel in Vancouver, WA. Reading Bennie’s posts brought to mind something that most people not familiar with Portland would know. That is that the city of Portland’s east and west sides are divided by the Willamette River. In the Portland city proper there are 10 car bridges across the Willamette River and 1 railroad bridge. I have expanded my bridge report to cover the Oregon City bridges that are about 12 miles south of the city.

Thanks Bennie for reminding me what a beautiful part of the country I live in. I tend to take the beauty for granted. It’s a daily drudge for me to commute across one or another bridge to get to work and back home everyday. Please join me on a tour of these bridges.

None of the photos are mine but neither are they copyrighted.



Borrowed from Portland Travel Guide: (My added comments)

“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 Portlander’s 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. (There are plans to replace this aging & worn bridge but not without controversy regarding what it will do to the neighborhood and the environment, after all this is Portland the Greenest city in the USA.)sellwood
  • 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. (Considerably narrow lanes for the 40mph speed limit in my opinion)ross_island_19991018_bridge_from_se_03
  • 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. (The white building on the right almost under the bridge is the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry. OMSI is a wonderful place for the entire family to visit.)marquam
  • 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.(I hate this bridge with the steel grates. It creeps me out to drive over it especially if there is a bus in the next lane)hawthorne
  • 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.morrison
  • 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. (This bridge recently underwent an almost three year project to repair and reinforce the spans and the lift. It was a nightmare having it down to only one lane in each direction for my drive home. The bridge was often closed from Friday afternoon until Monday morning as well. I finally rerouted myself to the Morrison Bridge to save commute time.)burnside
  • 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.steel-bridge-800x600
  • 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. (Another steel grate bridge that I hate)broadway
  • 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. (If you are not  the driver there are great views of downtown and the river from the upper deck.)fremont
  • 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. (There is a park on the eastside named Cathedral Park because of the cathedral like a columns of the bridge. It is believed to be one of the 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the Vancouver-Portland area.)st-johns-bridge

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.

    Updated from a new story dated Feb. 25th “The Portland City Council on Wednesday supported Mayor Sam Adams’ regional proposal to move forward on the proposed new Interstate 5 bridge between Portland and Vancouver, Wash.

    With only Commissioner Amanda Fritz voting against the plan, the council approved a resolution sponsored by Adams calling for a Columbia River Crossing bridge of up to 12 lanes managed by a bi-state mobility committee that would determine such issues as the actually number of lanes and the tolls that would be imposed on both the new bridge and the existing Interstate 205 Glenn Jackson Bridge.

    “This is an unusual step, but this region is known for innovative transportation planning,” said Adams.

    Commissioner Nick Fish said the vote showed that Adams was exercising leadership on regional issues, despite the controversy swirling around him after admitting he had sex with a former teenage legislative intern.”


  • 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.”Winter Storm 2008

The Portland proper railroad bridge


Portland to Vancouver railroad bridgevancouver

Oregon City  bridges

The George Abernathy I205 bridge


The Oregon City Bridge – Oregon City was the capital of the Oregon Territory


10 Responses

  1. Nice to see us feeding off each other’s blogs – triggering thoughts and memories. Fun! (love the pics, even though you didn’t take them). Thanks!

    • Sue,
      Yes it is. I usually spend my Saturday mornings catching up on all of the blogs I read. Then I try to come up with a couple of topics to write about on Sunday. I often get inspiration from what I have read on other’s blogs.

  2. Wow. I had no idea there were so many bridges there. Some really cool looking ones too. Let’s hope that they all get inspected better than the one in Minneapolis did!

    • Wayne,
      Believe me when I say that the bridge falling in Minneapolis caused a great deal of concern for Portlanders. Especially for those who drive across the Sellwood Bridge which is way beyond its life cycle.
      Yesterday morning on my way in to work when I crossed westbound on the Morrison Bridge there was a vehicle on the other side up on the sidewalk facing westbound. It was in the middle of the lift span which is made of steel grates. There were two police vehicles there. It was below freezing and I had to scrape thick ice off my windshield so maybe the vehicle hit a slick spot on the grates. Or then again since it was just after 6:00 AM the driver was out from a late night of partying. On the same bridge several years ago a woman changed lanes on the steel grates when the sign in big letters clearly states NO LANE CHANGES ahead. She was talking on her cell phone, speeding and went through the railing into the river. Luckily she survived.

  3. whoever took those pix of the bridges did a great job. i ran the portland marathon twice and remember running over one bridge that had quite an incline leading to it. i thought i’d never make it, but i did. it’s a great city to run a marathon in.

    have a great day!


  4. I love that St. Johns bridge. I’ve never seen it, now I’m going to have to go find that one. Thanks for the write up. You did a lot of work on this.

    • Bennie,
      It is a pretty quick drive from Vancouver. I5 south to the Hwy 30 exit. Google map the directions. I haven’t been in the St. John’s neighborhood in a quite a few years but I have heard that there are some good restaurants there.

  5. […] posted about the Portland bridges a couple of weeks ago. So now you know that Portland is a city divided by the Willamette River. But […]

  6. Great write up on the bridges. I posted the link to your blog on my OR travel page https://www.facebook.com/GoOregonNow

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