Sellwood Bridge opening celebration and bike party set for February 27th

Sellwood Bridge opening celebration and bike party set for February 27th

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Get ready to ride — and party! — on the new bridge.

According to Multnomah County the new Sellwood Bridge will be ready for traffic by late February or early March. That would be about 10 years since we first started planning it and just over four years since the project broke ground in 2011.

“The new bridge will be open to bicyclists without motor vehicles during the event and we are planning to include historic bicycles in our opening parade.”
— Mike Pullen, Multnomah County

The bridge is about 88 percent complete and it won’t be fully done until next Thanksgiving, but County spokesman Mike Pullen says we’ll be allowed to bike on it at a celebration tentatively set for Saturday, February 27th.

After hearing the latest update to the project timeline, I contacted Pullen to ask him how biking traffic figures into the news.

Pullen confirmed a few exciting details that will greatly improve cycling connections in the area. By late February the new section of biking and walking path on the west side of the river between the bridge and Willamette Park, will be fully completed and open for business.

As for the bridge itself, only one side of it will be open for cycling. When the bridge first opens to traffic, the County has decided to have two-way bicycling and walking traffic on the north side of the new bridge deck. The reason for this is because the south side is connected to the old bridge structure which isn’t going to be removed until fall 2016. “We can’t build the full width of the east approach until the old bridge is removed,” Pullen explained.


If you’re miffed at this news, consider this: The old bridge had just one extremely dodgy, 3-4 foot wide sidewalk that was shared by everyone not inside a car. By comparison, the one side that will be open in a few months on the new bridge will have 16 and 1/2 feet of width for bikers and walkers to share. That 16.5 feet is split between a 12-foot shared path on a separated grade from the standard bridge lanes and a 6.5-foot bike-only lane directly adjacent to the standard vehicle lanes (see image at top of post).

Pullen also shared that bicycle riding will play a very prominent role in the big grand opening celebration. “The new bridge will be open to bicyclists without motor vehicles during the event and we are planning to include historic bicycles in our opening parade,” Pullen said. And to top it all off, he said they’re lining up a local elected official to make the ceremonial first bike crossing.

We can’t wait for the big party!

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather so crews can finish up the concrete pouring and hit their February-March goal. And mark your calendar for February 27th from 12:00 to 4:00 pm.

If all goes according to plan the new bridge would open for regular traffic in time for the morning commute on Tuesday, March 1st.

For more on the Sellwood Bridge project, check out our extensive archives dating back to 2006 and visit SellwoodBridge.org.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


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