A behind the scenes tour of the 100-year-old Broadway Bridge

A behind the scenes tour of the 100-year-old Broadway Bridge

PORTLAND, Ore. - One of Portland's bridges is hitting the century mark this weekend and KATU was invited along on a guided tour of the 100-year-old icon.

At 1,613 feet long, the Broadway Bridge is the longest Rall-type bascule bridge (a type of draw bridge invented by Theodore Rall) still in existence.

The bridge first opened on April 22, 1913 and cost $1.6 million to build. Today, around 30,000 vehicles cross the Broadway bridge each day.

The Broadway Bridge sits about 90 feet above the river and rarely lifts for boats - maybe a couple of times a month. Lift operators are on call now instead of sitting on the bridge around the clock.

If the bridge does go up, you can expect to wait a while for it to go back down. An opening can take 20 minutes or more to complete because the bridge's lift system is a complicated one.

But to bridge mechanic Mitch Hamel, it's a beautiful thing.

"It's like an orchestra when everything is working fine, in tune and everything - the ballet that it performs when it's going into the open position," he said.


Happening this weekend: A Broadway Bridge birthday bash is coming up on Sunday, April 21 at The Game restaurant in the Rose Quarter. There will be live music, art, food and much more.