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Burnside Bridge replacement shaves $200M from budget


The county chose the Burnside Bridge to be replaced first because it’s a lifeline route that would allow emergency services to respond after a major earthquake.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A task force working to upgrade the Burnside Bridge voted Monday night to recommend approval of three cost saving measures that could reduce the new bridge’s price by upwards of $240 million.

Those working on the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project made it clear, though, that it only voted to approve one cost saving measure — which involves shrinking the bridge’s width — in hopes of finding additional funding to avoid doing so.

As of right now, none of Portland’s downtown bridges could withstand “The Big One,” or the Magnitude 8 earthquake that experts give a one-in-three chance of hitting locally in most Oregon residents’ lifetimes. Multnomah County chose the Burnside Bridge to be replaced first because it’s a lifeline route that would allow emergency services to respond after a major earthquake or other disasters.

But since the project’s birth in 2016, the cost of such resources as steel has risen, partly due to the pandemic. The once-$1 billion project could now cost $800 million should the county attract more state and federal funding that alleviates local taxpayers’ burden.

The biggest, and most controversial, cost-saving measure involves not only shrinking the bridge’s overall width from the original design, but also making it a four-lane bridge vehicle rather than the five-lane crossing it is now.

Currently, the 53-feet-wide roadway offers 12.8 feet on either side for bicyclists and pedestrians. Initial revamp proposals suggested a 60-foot-wide roadway with 20 feet on either side. Calls for lower costs, recommended for approval last night, resulted in a 44- to 50-feet-wide roadway with 14 to 17 feet on either side.

Read the full story at the Portland Business Journal.




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