An array of girders, catwalks, wiring and mechanical systems in an interior space, showing rust, grime and other signs of decay.
Repairs will be made to the structure, road surface and electrical and mechanical systems.

In 2015 Multnomah County took a look at the six Willamette River bridges it maintains to see if any of them need repairs or improvement. We wrote a report about what we learned called the Willamette River Bridges Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

The plan shows the Burnside Bridge needs the most repairs. The Burnside Bridge is located in the heart of downtown and serves many people. Their safety is important. For that reason, we decided to make it the first bridge to improve.

What repairs need to be made?

The Burnside Bridge Maintenance Project will make sure the bridge is safe and keep it working for another 15 to 20 years. The bridge has a number of problems that need to be fixed now:

  • Some of the concrete is cracked and crumbling
  • The electrical system and the parts that raise the bridge need upgrades
  • The steel framework on the bridge is rusting

When will the repairs be made?

Project planning was completed 2016. Construction began in spring 2017.  The project is nearly complete.  In 2020 the contractor is completing a few minor tasks.  Remaining work will not impact traffic. 

What parts of the bridge will get repaired?

The Burnside Bridge Maintenance Project will make improvements along the west approach, main bridge spans and east approach. The project extends from 1st Avenue on the west across the length of the bridge to 2nd Avenue on the east.

Repairs will focus on three major areas of the bridge – the road surface, the bridge structure and electrical and mechanical systems. 

Some of the surface repairs will be:

  • Spot repairs to pavement, sidewalks, overhangs and railings
  • Replacing expansion joints (which allow bridge sections to expand and contract with temperature change)
  • Sign painting

Some of the structural repairs will be: 

  • Repairing cracks in the piers
  • Repairing the concrete columns that hold up the bridge, including the beams and girders which make the columns strong
  • Painting steel trusses (the framework under the bridge that holds up the roadway)
  • Repairing the inside of the internal steel towers that are connected to the piers

Some of the mechanical/electrical repairs will be:

  • Replacing the drawbridge span locks and motor 
  • Upgrading the power supply and drawbridge controls

Where is construction happening in 2019 and 2020?

The last phase of construction includes this work: 

  • Installing bus only legends in new eastbound transit only lane (November 2019)
  • Installing candlestick delineators in the new buffer zone between bike and traffic lanes (November 2019)
  • In-water repair of bridge Pier 1 by downtown seawall (February 2020)
  • Installation of protective fencing on east approach above Interstate 5 (February 2020)
  • Final clean up tasks (February - March 2020)

How will the remaining work impact traffic?

As of late February 2020, all work that will impact motor vehicle traffic is complete.  There may be brief periods where short sections of sidewalk are closed and pedestrians are detoured around using traffic cones.  

How much will the repairs cost?

The improvements are estimated to cost $18-22 million.

Who's involved?

Multnomah County owns the bridge. HDR Inc. designed the repairs. Hamilton Construction is the general contractor making the repairs.

Will the repairs make the bridge safer in an earthquake? 

While we’re repairing the bridge,we’ll also look for ways to make it safer during earthquakes. This is a separate project called the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project. This project will last two to three years.

We will use the information from the study to come up with options on how to keep the bridge safe in an earthquake. We will discuss the options with Portland residents, business owners and community organizations. That way we can make sure we find the best solution for everyone.


Please use this form to contact the project team with any questions or comments or to sign up for project updates.