Sellwood Bridge design approved; construction is next step

Sellwood Bridge design approved; construction is next step
A rendering of the new Sellwood Bridge (Photo courtesy

PORTLAND, Ore. – The planning phase is officially over for the Sellwood Bridge project. Next up: construction.

Multnomah County commissioners approved the final design on Thursday, meaning construction crews can now move forward with building the $299 million bridge over the Willamette River.

A county spokesman said the bridge will include the following features:

  • Steel deck arch bridge
  • A symmetrical bridge deck design with two traffic lanes, two bike lane/shoulders, and two multi-use raised paths for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • One-stage bridge construction using a detour bridge
  • New access to Macadam Bay floating homes on the south side of Freeman Motors
  • Westside regional trail along trolley line from bridge to S.W. Miles Place
  • Limited bridge closure during construction

The final design will cost about $30 million more than the original price tag. Portland mayor Sam Adams had complained about the higher price tag because the city will have to foot one third of the bill.

"The fact that, you know, they're coming to us, asking for $11 million more dollars means I will have to make budget cuts in the Portland Bureau of Transportation," Adams said on Wednesday. "Very disappointing, very frustrating."

County officials said the price of materials, having to deal with contaminated soil under Highway 43  and construction challenges along the hillside on the west bank all contributed to the increased costs.

“Our challenge is making sure we have a bridge that will last on beyond all of our lives and is worthy of the work, and at the same time balances scarce public resources,” said county chairman Jeff Cogen. “It’s not an easy balance but I think today we have made the right decision.”

The bridge is expected to open to traffic in 2015. All work should wrap up by early 2016, county officials said.

You can follow the latest on the Sellwood Bridge project on the project website,