March 10, 2016

The first custom mobile and web-based application developed by Multnomah County is designed to answer a question Portland residents have asked for more than 100 years: are the drawbridges across the Willamette River up or down?

The Bridge Alerts app is the first publicly available mobile application developed by the county’s Information Technology team.  It provides notifications when one of the county’s four drawbridges opens for a river vessel, maintenance or repairs.  The four movable bridges are the Broadway, Burnside, Hawthorne and Morrison.  (The Steel Bridge, which is owned by Union Pacific Railroad, and the Interstate Bridge, which is owned by ODOT and WSDOT, are not included in the app.)  The app includes notifications for scheduled bridge lifts when a bridge opening is scheduled in advance.

The app is now available for free on Google Play for Android devices and the Apple App Store for iOS devices.

The mobile app was created by county IT staff working with interns from local IT vocational school Epidocus.  

“Developing our first app was a fun and educational experience for the county’s IT team and our interns,” said Sherry Swackhamer, the county’s chief information officer.  “We plan to build on what we learned creating the Bridge app when we take on more complicated mobile applications in the future.”

The opening status for each bridge can also be viewed online at  To watch a video about the Bridge Alert app project, visit Multnomah County’s Department of County Assets YouTube site.