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Seismic Reconstruction of Portland's Burnside Bridge Necessitates a Five Year Closure



Portland is preparing for the reconstruction of the Burnside Bridge which is slated to commence around 2027 and anticipated to take five years. Unfortunately, the bridge will be closed during the duration of the construction.

The five year closure is due to the Endangered Species Act which means that work in the river can only occur during periods when endangered salmon are not migrating. Additionally, the downtown location and intricate design of the bridge are contributing to the extended timeline.


“We expect that it will be fully closed for five years,” said Multnomah County construction manager Emily Miletich.

With the completion of the environmental review, crucial structural decisions have been finalized. However, the county is still deliberating on the type of bridge for the east side, considering the potential liquefaction of the soil during a significant earthquake. “We’ve just selected a contractor to help us make a decision between a cable stay bridge and a tied arch bridge on the east side of the river,” said Miletich.


On the west side, a decision has been made to construct a traditional girder bridge, resembling the current structure but incorporating modern technology to reduce the number of beams and enhance spatial openness.

The bridge's location is intricate, passing over vital transportation corridors, including Interstate 6, Interstate 85, and a north-south railroad line. Due to these challenges, the county is consulting with the contractor to explore suitable bridge designs for the considerable distance.


As previously reported, the county has officially chosen Burnside Bridge Partners JV as the general contractor for the project. This partnership consists of: Stacy and Witbeck, based in Alameda, California; Traylor Bros., headquartered in Evansville, Indiana; and American Bridge, located in Pittsburgh.


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