Planning underway to ensure Burnside Bridge survives major earthquake

Thousands of people use the Burnside Bridge daily. (KATU Photo)

Multnomah County is working on a plan to make the Burnside Bridge withstand a massive earthquake.

“It's just shocking that none of our downtown bridges are guaranteed to be standing after (a) big earthquake,” said Mike Pullen, a spokesperson for Multnomah County.

If a significant earthquake hits, Pullen said, all downtown bridges spanning the Willamette River would collapse, cutting off the west and east sides of Portland.

A group of stakeholders met Monday to begin a feasibility study. The group will spend 18 months coming up with solutions. Pullen said the group could decide to completely rebuild the bridge, improve the existing infrastructure or build an additional retrofitted bridge alongside it.

The stakeholder group is comprised of bicyclists, business owners, members of surrounding neighborhood associations and people who experienced the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California.

Pullen said the recently completed Tilikum and Sellwood bridges are built to withstand a significant earthquake.

People walking along the Burnside Bridge told KATU they are fearful of a major earthquake.

“I'm scared. I think we all should be,” David Gluck said.

He said he was happy the county was coming up with a plan in case a major earthquake hits the area.

“I think it would be nice to have a bridge so that I could see my parents and Multnomah Village,” he said.

The stakeholder group will meet three more times and are expected to complete the report in fall of 2018.

Construction is planned to begin in 2024 with a completion date expected in 2028.

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