Sellwood Bridge Update- Fame visits our shabby neighbor

This month, the Sellwood Bridge stepped into the spotlight not as the most dilapidated bridge in the country, but as a Hollywood star.  “Leverage”, a TNT TV series in its third year, follows the adventures of a “…highly skilled team out to settle scores against those who use power and wealth to victimize others.” The gang is led by “Mastermind” former insurance investigator Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton), and includes the “Hacker”, the “Hitter”, the “Thief”, and the “Grifter”.   Since the series’ second year, Portland has played the role of Boston.  For the bridge’s 15 minutes of fame, the Thief and the Hacker had to jump onto a moving train.  Traffic on the Sellwood bridge and on the Springwater trail was shut down for about 5 hours as the crews moved in; just a glimpse of what will happen when (and if) the new bridge construction ever starts.  Here’s a peek behind the scenes…

Speaking of future construction, here’s the skinny on the new design… they’re still thinking.  The final Environmental Impact Statement is ready for approval, which is needed to move ahead with the final design and construction.  The basic positioning and traffic load were established in 2009, but the design itself is still under consideration.  Key features of the preferred alternative include

  • Two lane bridge with two sidewalks, two bike lanes, and a traffic signal at the Highway 43 connection.  Bridge widens to four lanes at the west end.
  • No raised center median.
  • Minimize impacts to businesses and residents during construction. (Thanks, guys!)
  • Cost of structure less than $170 million, including river span, east approach, temporary construction, demolition of existing bridge and buildings, west hillside stabilization, design, construction engineering, contingency, and inflation through 2014.  Full cost of the project is estimated at $330 million.
  • Design work and land acquisition will begin later this year, with construction starting in late 2012

Assuming the regional funding package remains intact, it includes…

  • $127 million from Multnomah County vehicle registration fee increase ($19 per year)
  • $22M from Clackamas county vehicle registration fee increase (pending)
  • $100M from City of Portland from the Oregon Jobs and Transportation Act
  • $30M from the State of Oregon under the Jobs and Transportation Act for the Highway 43 interchange
  • $40M from the Federal Government under the Transportation Act
  • $11M from previous funding remaining after planning phase.

Since they’re still undecided on the final design, there are pictures of all the competing options available on the web.  Details are also available at, the website the county maintains to keep everyone posted.  You can still squeeze in your comments on the plans, but hurry- the public comment period closes August 18!

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