After two years, about 2,000 gallons of paint and roughly 5000 hours of hard work, the Morrison Bridge has its first new coat of paint in 66 years.
Multnomah County successfully finished the $26 million Morrison Bridge Paint Project this month, giving the bridge a fresh look and creating a safer crossing for the community. The project was federally funded with a 10% match from the County.
“After more than 60 years, the Morrison Bridge was in desperate need of a new coat of paint,” Project Manager, Kenneth Huntley said. “We were able to not only repaint the bridge, but we also found several seriously damaged steel sections through inspections that we were able to fix. These repairs extended the life of the bridge significantly.”
The new paint is an aluminum gray, meant to mimic the original coat and honor the history of the bridge, which dates back to 1957.
Painting a bridge is no easy feat. Crews worked on safety platforms roughly 50 feet in the air wearing extensive protective gear.
“Because the old paint contains lead, crews must follow rigorous environmental protocols, which includes using a large industrial vacuum to prevent the paint from falling into the river,” Huntley said.
There’s also three different coats of paint applied during the process, including a zinc primer coat, intermediate coat for added protection and then a final finish coat.
"Our beautiful 'like new' Morrison Bridge speaks to the hard work and vision of so many. Not only does the fresh coat of paint hide 65-plus years of wear and tear, the project fixed a number of important safety issues,” Commissioner Sharon Meieran said. “I particularly appreciate the nod to preserving the bridge's history in recreating its original silvery hue. Finishing on time and under budget, the Morrison Bridge Paint Project is a resounding success!”
Through required inspections during the project, crews were able to make more than 20 steel repairs to strengthen the bridge. Crews also repainted the sign structures over the bridge and replaced all of the old signs to make traffic and safety messaging more visible.
The project also provided thousands of hours of learning opportunities as three different apprenticeships worked with the contractor, totaling 3600 hours of training. Three different Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) organizations also worked on this project as subcontractors.
As work on the exterior of the Morrison Bridge finishes, the County is already working on another project on this bridge. The Morrison Bridge Strengthening Project will improve the S.E. Morrison Street and S.E. Belmont Street ramps to the bridge to reduce weight restrictions that prevent heavy trucks from being able to use the bridge. The project will also be replacing the motors and brakes in the movable span, which help open and close the bridge. Construction is expected from spring 2024 to fall 2025.