The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Monday, 25 August 2014 00:00cat

Multi-Modal Bridge Being Built in Portland Bans Cars

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The car-free Tilikum Crossing is being hailed the "bridge of the people." The car-free Tilikum Crossing is being hailed the "bridge of the people." Flickr/TriMet

Construction is currently underway on the country’s first multi-modal bridge that bans private cars. Instead of carrying private vehicle traffic, the bridge will carry MAX light rail trains, Portland’s streetcar line, city busses, and pedestrian and bike traffic. The decision to ban cars was made mostly because there is not an existing roadway on either side of the bridge. City planners did not want to ruin the redevelopment occuring along the river by carving it up with a new freeway on both sides. The city looked into having the MAX trains travel on the existing Hawthorne Bridge, but decided against that option despite most likely being cheaper than building a new bridge. The bridge, known as the Tilikum Crossing, is being constructed in Portland, Oregon and will be completed next year. The bridge will open for one day in early August for the 19th annual Providence Bridge Pedal and Stride. It will then close again until its official opening on September 12th.

The bridge has many features that distinguishes itself from other bridges across the country. The bridge’s H-shaped towers are smaller than most other cable-stay bridges and single cables are used instead of two sets of cables to connect to the H-shaped towers. The bridge also juts out in the middle to reduce wing drag on people walking or riding across the bridge. Dan Blocher, executive director of capitol projects for TriMet, Portland’s transit agency, believes the Tilikum Crossing is, “an act of urban planning maybe even more so than a transit project.” Many see the bridge as representing the change from industrial waterfronts to public use along rivers not just in Portland, but also around the country. As more workers find alternative means to get to work, one can expect more bridges like the Tilikum Crossing to be built. While Blocher does not expect everyone to give up the convenience of driving to work, each person who opts to take public transportation is one less car on the road.

Sources: Portland TribuneCity Lab

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