Vision for Burnside Bridge -Portland Bicycling Club

Vision for Burnside Bridge

At the January 6th meeting of the PBC members, Willie Levenson of HAP (Human Access Project) presented several options for approaches to the upgraded Burnside Bridge. The Burnside Bridge needs a seismic upgrade so that there will still be a physical connection between the east and west sides of Portland when a major earthquake hits. The Burnside Bridge was selected despite the fact that it is about a hundred years old. The other, newer, bridges might be easier to upgrade, but the approaches to each of the other bridges are on soil that is subject to liquefaction. The fear is that, though some of the bridges themselves would probably withstand the shaking, the approaches would be unusable. The Burnside Bridge’s approaches, on the other hand, are on solid ground. 

There are several possible designs for an upgraded or new bridge, but the focus of Mr. Levenson’s presentation was the problem of how pedestrians and cyclists would be able to access it. He started by showing pictures of other waterfronts such as Paris that not only provide access to the bridges, but also access to the rivers themselves. There were some imaginative treatments in cities around the world, and since we have largely cleaned up the Willamette and will continue to make improvements there, the thought is that river access off the East Bank Esplanade and Waterfront Park should be equally inviting.

Mr. Levenson said that, as the project takes shape and more information becomes available, he would be happy to return and make another presentation to report on progress. One point he made during his presentation was that HAP needs funding. The bridge upgrade will be funded. That is not true for the vision of bridge and river access.

Dave McQuery, Member at Large