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Story by Aubra Salt - The Oregon Herald
Published on Thursday May 27, 2021 - 10:48 PM
 
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PORTLAND, Oregon - At 6:50 pm last night Portland fire crews were dispatched to the Marquam bridge on the report of someone sitting over the edge of the bridge. When the first fire engine arrived, they found a female sitting on the outside edge of the bridge. She then climbed down to the steel structure under the bridge.

This was a very dangerous situation, so the Technical rescue team was dispatched to the scene for a possible rope rescue. A paramedic on the first arriving engine had just completed a new crisis intervention class and was able to talk to the woman. Members from the PPB ECIT also arrived on scene to help. After several minutes the woman crawled under the bridge and was moving around on the steel structure under the top deck and over the bottom deck of the bridge. Squad 12 arrived on scene on the bottom deck of the bridge and made verbal contact with her. After several minutes they were able to put a ladder up to the bridge and firefighters were able to safely bring her down the ladder and off the bridge. She was then transported to the hospital by AMR.

The woman's identity and age has not been released and it's not at all certain why she was on the bridge.

Bridges over the Willamette River comprise a majority of the notable bridges in the city. Portland has 12 bridges that span the Willamette, while only two road bridges cross the Columbia River, and other notable bridges cross roads, canyons or other bodies of water. Interstate 5 crosses the Willamette via the Marquam Bridge and the Columbia via the Interstate Bridge.

The bridges of Portland are numerous and diverse. The structures represent a variety of construction types, including vertical lift spans, double-leaf Bascule drawspans, and the longest tied arch span in the world. The Oregon Department of Transportation maintains the Fremont, Marquam, Ross Island, and St. Johns bridges. Multnomah County maintains the Broadway, Burnside, Hawthorne, Morrison, and Sellwood bridges. Union Pacific Railroad owns the Steel Bridge.

Bridges over the Willamette River, listed north to south:

  1. St. Johns Bridge (1931) - U.s. Route 30/N Philadelphia Avenue
  2. Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge 5.1 (1908)
  3. Fremont Bridge (1973) - Interstate 405
  4. Broadway Bridge (1913) - Broadway
  5. Steel Bridge (1912) - Pacific Highway West/former Oregon Route 99W
  6. Burnside Bridge (1926) - Burnside Street
  7. Morrison Bridge (1958) - Morrison Street
  8. Hawthorne Bridge (1910) - Hawthorne Boulevard
  9. Marquam Bridge (1966) - Interstate 5
  10. Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People (2015) - MAX Orange Line, Portland Streetcar, TriMet busses, walking and biking
  11. Ross Island Bridge (1922) - U.S. Route 26/Powell Boulevard
  12. Sellwood Bridge (1925) - SE Tacoma Street

Because the Willamette River bisects Portland on its way to meeting the Columbia River, the city needs a lot of bridges – and most of them are drawbridges to allow boat traffic. Here are the bridges of Portland, listed from north to south.

St Johns Bridge
Built in 1931, this steel suspension bridge with dual Gothic-style towers is the tallest bridge in Portland. The bridge is a National Historic Landmark. State Hwy 30B begins at the west end of the St Johns Bridge, and it heads east across the bridge in the direction of the airport.

Fremont Bridge carries I-405 across the Willamette.
I-405 crosses the Willamette on the Fremont Bridge, which is tall enough that it does not need to open for bridge traffic. Built in 1973, it is both the longest bridge in Oregon and the second longest tied-arch ("rainbow") bridge in the world. The bottom span is 175 feet above the river, so it doesn't require opening for river traffic. [Read more about the Fremont Bridge.]

Broadway Bridge
Built in 1911-12, the Broadway Bridge connects NW Broadway St and NW Lovejoy St with NE Broadway St on the east side. It's a Rall-type double-leaf bascule, and it's the most complicated drawbridge to open. Average opening times on the other bridges are 5-8 minutes, but the Broadway requires 20 minutes or more. The vertical height is such that it only needs to open about 25 times per month. The bridge carries 30,000 vehicles per day. [Read more about the Broadway Bridge.] Steel Bridge

Built in 1912, the Steel Bridge is a bi-level bridge with rail, pedestrian, bicycle, and road traffic. The bridge is maintained by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Burnside Bridge
Burnside Road, the dividing line between North and South in Portland, crosses the river on the Burnside Bridge. Built in 1926, it carries 40,000 vehicles per day, as well as 2,000 pedestrians and bicyclists. Burnside Street and Bridge are designated as an official emergency transportation route, which required that the bridge receive a seismic retrofit against earthquake damage. It was the first Willamette bridge to be designed by an architect, and it features distinctive Italian Renaissance towers. The drawbridge mechanism (the "bascule") was designed by Joseph Strauss, who built the Golden Gate Bridge 11 years later. Two concrete counterweights weigh 1,900 tons each.

Morrison Bridge
The Morrison Bridge, built in 1958, is a Chicago-type double-leaf bascule draw span. It's actually the third bridge in this spot, with previous incarnations being built in 1887 and 1905. With ramps that connect Interstates 5 and 84, this bridge carries 50,000 vehicles every day. The bridge features a system of LED architectural lights that can illuminate the river piers in a wide variety of colors. Vertical clearance on the bridge is enough for the majority of boats, but it still opens about 30 times per month. The bridge has two concrete counterweights weighing 950 tons each that can be lowered to raise the lift span leafs. This bridge is the largest mechanical device in Oregon! [Read more about the Morrison Bridge.]

Hawthorne Bridge

One of Portland's busiest bridges, the Hawthorne Bridge connects SW Madison St on the west side with SE Hawthorne Blvd on the east side of the river. The country's oldest operating vertical lift bridge was built in 1910, and the counterweights each weigh 450 tons. Daily traffic consists of 30,000 motor vehicles (including 800 buses) and 8,000 bicycles. Because its vertical clearance is lower than the other bridges, it requires around 200 openings per month. [Read more about the Hawthorne Bridge.] Marquam Bridge

I-5 crosses the Willamette on the Marquam Bridge, just below the south end of Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The bridge is tall enough that it does not require raising for river traffic.

Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People

Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People is the largest car-free bridge in the United States. Tilikum Crossing has designated tracks for trains and streetcars that run in the center of the bridge, as well as pedestrian and bicycle lanes on both sides of the bridge. No cars are allowed! This bridge lights up in different colors at night based on the water temperature (and the season).


And finally, The Vista Bridge: Portland's suicide bridge

The Vista Bridge is an arch bridge for vehicles and pedestrians located in Portland, Oregon, United States. It connects the areas of King's Hill and Vista Ridge which are both in the Goose Hollow neighborhood. The MAX Light Rail line and Jefferson Street/Canyon Road travel under the bridge, and Vista Avenue crosses the bridge.

The ravine the Vista Bridge passes over was carved out by Tanner Creek and is referred to as the Tanner Creek Canyon , which was called 'The Great Plank Road'. Tanner Creek was diverted underground beginning in the 1870s with work completed in the early 1900s. The creek still runs underground beneath the Vista Bridge, although it now drains the surrounding hillside via storm drains and a culvert to the Willamette River.

The bridge has four pedestrian balconies, or 'refuge bays' , holding concrete benches, two on each side. The 248-foot-long structure was designed by architect Fred T. Fowler. It is of a rib-reinforced concrete deck arch design. Completed in 1926, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, as the Vista Avenue Viaduct, on April 26, 1984.

The Ford Street Bridge, a previous bridge on this site, was built in 1903 as part of a streetcar route to Council Crest, the highest point in Portland at 1,070 feet. Council Crest was the site of the 'Big Tree Observator'y and a popular amusement park and dance hall that operated from 1907 to 1929. Streetcars crossed the current bridge until 1950, when service on the Council Crest line was abandoned, but the disused tracks remained in place on the bridge for another four decades, until a renovation of the bridge deck.

In 1991, several bungee jumps were filmed here for an Oregon Lottery advertisement. Opening scenes for the 2004 film What the Bleep Do We Know!? were filmed in Goose Hollow and included views of the Vista Bridge and the Goose Hollow/SW Jefferson St . In 2010, the title shot for Portlandia was photographed from the Vista Bridge. Usage for suicide

The bridge has been a popular place for jumpers, with the first incident possibly occurring five years after its 1926 opening, earning it the nickname 'Suicide Bridge'. From 2004 through 2011, 13 people died by suicide by jumping. In July 2013, following three fatal jumps in six months, Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick approved an emergency request by the Portland Transportation Bureau to erect temporary suicide barriers. Because of its status on the National Register of Historic Places the bridge's barrier had to be approved by the Preservation Society under the National Historic Preservation Act and by the State Historic Preservation Office and any federal and state agencies that provide funding. Following the erection of a suicide barrier in the fall of 2013, a would-be jumper managed to get around the barrier but was talked down by police; in January 2014, a 14-year-old boy shot and killed himself on the bridge, tumbling onto the adjacent embankment.

The ravine the Vista Bridge passes over was carved out by Tanner Creek and is referred to as the Tanner Creek Canyon , which was called 'The Great Plank Road'. Tanner Creek was diverted underground beginning in the 1870s with work completed in the early 1900s. The creek still runs underground beneath the Vista Bridge, although it now drains the surrounding hillside via storm drains and a culvert to the Willamette River.

The bridge has four pedestrian balconies, or 'refuge bays' , holding concrete benches, two on each side. The 248-foot-long structure was designed by architect Fred T. Fowler. It is of a rib-reinforced concrete deck arch design. Completed in 1926, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, as the Vista Avenue Viaduct, on April 26, 1984.

The Ford Street Bridge, a previous bridge on this site, was built in 1903 as part of a streetcar route to Council Crest, the highest point in Portland at 1,070 feet. Council Crest was the site of the 'Big Tree Observator'y and a popular amusement park and dance hall that operated from 1907 to 1929. Streetcars crossed the current bridge until 1950, when service on the Council Crest line was abandoned, but the disused tracks remained in place on the bridge for another four decades, until a renovation of the bridge deck.

In 1991, several bungee jumps were filmed here for an Oregon Lottery advertisement. Opening scenes for the 2004 film What the Bleep Do We Know!? were filmed in Goose Hollow and included views of the Vista Bridge and the Goose Hollow/SW Jefferson St . In 2010, the title shot for Portlandia was photographed from the Vista Bridge. Usage for suicide

The bridge has been a popular place for jumpers, with the first incident possibly occurring five years after its 1926 opening, earning it the nickname 'Suicide Bridge'. From 2004 through 2011, 13 people died by suicide by jumping. In July 2013, following three fatal jumps in six months, Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick approved an emergency request by the Portland Transportation Bureau to erect temporary suicide barriers. Because of its status on the National Register of Historic Places the bridge's barrier had to be approved by the Preservation Society under the National Historic Preservation Act and by the State Historic Preservation Office and any federal and state agencies that provide funding. Following the erection of a suicide barrier in the fall of 2013, a would-be jumper managed to get around the barrier but was talked down by police; in January 2014, a 14-year-old boy shot and killed himself on the bridge, tumbling onto the adjacent embankment.