When the inevitable Cascadian subduction zone earthquake -- the Big One -- hits Portland someday, engineers say 40 of the 44 bridge lanes that connect the east and west sides of the Willamette River will collapse or be unusable for the near future.
Or would it? John Czarnecki, a preservation-oriented architect and former chair of the Portland Landmarks Commission, contends that another option, enhancing the current Burnside Bridge, was dismissed prematurely.
Designing a bridge to run through the heart of a major city is a complicated task. Designers and engineers are concerned about obstruction of city views, accessibility under the west end of the bridge, maintaining a safe crossing above the I-5 freeway and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the east side.
The long-span proposal that is the leading option so far would move structural elements above the roadway, as opposed to the structure that now sits below the Burnside deck. How bulky and how the structure is shaped will affect the views of the city by passengers travelling either direction.
|Possible tied-arch option (Multnomah County)|
The Design Commission expects to hear an update on potential bridge designs in the next couple months. More information on the project is available at: