28 February 2016

[pdx] The Sellwood Bridge Opening, Part I: Being There

When a bridge opens in Portland, it's a big, big deal. And that's always amused me, on a basic level. You see, there are cities which are not just woven together, but knitted tightly, my more bridges than Portland has. Pittsburgh comes to mind. New York City has some spectacular ones, and it's on a chain of islands.

But none of them get called Bridge City. Maybe our bridges are just that much more hardworking and awesome in their way.

Yesterday, on the 27th of February, 2016, one of them got a rebirth. The Sellwood Bridge, named for the city, which was later a neighborhood of Portland, that it served, was originally built in 1925. It was a harder worker than most of Portland's bridges, and, far out on the city's southern frontier and built for service rather than looks, hadn't entered most Portlanders' minds much. But some time ago it developed that the bridge was beyond its useful lifespan: a survey rating Oregon bridge safety from 1 to 100 gave the Sellwood Bridge a 2. TriMet pulled service from the span and truck traffic was banned.

Eventually a coalition of state, Federal, and city powers funded a new bridge, one that would be built to exceed earthquake standards, serve the community for a long time to come, and look beautiful doing it. Because we're Portlanders, and we love our bridges.

We were there yesterday and I snapped over 100 photos. Lot to see …

From the people and dogs and bikes that thronged the bridge …

To the old structure which was still standing, on temporary supports, along side the new one … it had carried traffic until just this last week …

Of course, there were the dignitaries, speechifying …

Sitting in front, L to R: City Commissioner Steve Novick,
County Commission Jules Bailey, US Senator Jeff Merkley;
Between Bailey and Merkley, with sunglasses on,
County Commissioner Judy Shiprack; at the podium,
County Chair Deborah Kafoury

… to the citizens, one of which being me, who were pretty thrilled to be there … but I didn't get a t-shirt like this guy:

Naturally, it's not Portland without at least one unicyclist (and several food carts) …

And at least a few members of an extraterrestrial marching band.

It was a big bridge party, but The Wife™ opined it was more like a street fair, and she's absolutely right about that. It was great fun. I'll break it down over the next couple of days with a few themed posts, which is something that just now occurred to me … but with 126 photos, there's no other way to do it, Cascadia. 

Just showing off, and why not?

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