Board briefed on Sellwood Bridge project milestones, celebrations

February 25, 2016

Mike Baker and Mike Pullen at Thursday's board meeting.
Mike Baker and Mike Pullen (right) at Thursday's board meeting.

"Is there something going on with the Sellwood Bridge?" Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said at a board meeting Thursday morning, a smile crossing her face. “I think I heard something.”

The project marks a milestone tonight as the old bridge, built 90 years ago on a shoestring budget, closes down to make way for a safer, wider bridge. The new bridge will open to traffic next week; commuters can keep an eye on Twitter for updates.

Planning for the new bridge began in 2006, with construction beginning in 2011. The project is expected to cost about $319.7 million and will include nearly 10 times as much space for pedestrians and bike commuters. The project is about 90 percent complete.

Mike Baker, of David Evans & Associates, said there’s some more to be done.

“It will be a busy summer,” he told commissioners. “We're working from tip to tail, on interchanges, retaining walls, landscaping. There’s lots of activity everywhere.”

Thousands of trees and shrubs need planting. Architect Mikyoung Kim is creating 23 statues, which will be installed in May. The east approach still needs work; and there’s the old bridge to take apart. Pedestrians and bike commuters can look forward to wide raised paths on both sides of the bridge; but the south pedestrian sidewalk won’t open until this fall.

Residents are invited to gather tonight at 7 p.m. for a final walk across the old bridge. A bagpiper will lead the procession, and people are encouraged to bring flashlights to light the way.

“We have all complained about it,” said county spokesman Mike Pullen of the old bridge. “But I think we’re all a little sentimental.”


Goodbye to the old bridge

WHAT: Candlelight Farewell Walk across the bridge

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 25, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: assemble at 7 p.m., on Grand Avenue off of Spokane street

Welcome the New

WHAT: Sellwood Bridge opening celebration, ribbon-cutting, antique car parade, booths and more

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 27, noon - 4 p.m.

WHERE: entrance at S.E. Tacoma St. and S.E. 6th Ave.