'Toolbox' that shut down Steel Bridge was actually a TriMet fare box

'Toolbox' that shut down Steel Bridge was actually a TriMet fare box

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland's Steel Bridge was shut down during the rush hour commute on Tuesday after a report that someone dropped a toolbox on the bridge and then ran away.

From the 9-1-1 call: "I just witnessed a guy on a bike stop, leave a plastic, a grey plastic toolbox, sitting on the railing and then run away really quickly and jump on a bike and take off."

Fear of another public attack, like what happened at the Boston Marathon on Monday, has heightened awareness around the country and here in Portland, it's no different.

So when the report came in around 4:20 p.m., police quickly responded and called out the bomb squad to check out the suspicious box. The bridge was temporarily shut down in both directions and not even the MAX trains were getting across.

Investigators later learned that the toolbox was actually an empty TriMet fare box that had fallen out of one of the transit organization's maintenance vehicles without the driver knowing. A passing bicyclist picked up the box and put it on the bridge's railing. The person then ran back to his bike and rode away.

Police say even though it turned out the box posed no danger, the person who called 9-1-1 was justified in doing so based on what they saw. They say anyone who sees suspicious activity like that should always make a call, just in case it does turn out to be something serious.

"It's an important call to make," said Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau. "Being wrong is OK. We would rather you be wrong than be the person watching the TV the next day and seeing a tragedy and realizing you could have done something to prevent it."

Police say they respond to a lot more of these types of reports than most people realize and are prepared for more of them now that people are on alert.

Meanwhile, TriMet is looking into how the box ended up falling from one of their maintenance vehicles and is apologizing to the public for any inconvenience caused by the incident.