Portland’s aging downtown bridges are not expected to withstand a major earthquake. That’s why Multnomah County is taking the lead on making at least one crossing earthquake ready.

Located in the heart of downtown and on a regionally established lifeline route, it is critical that the Burnside Bridge is still standing after a major earthquake.  A resilient Burnside Bridge will help our community recover after a major earthquake and provide a long-term river crossing that supports our transportation needs for the next century. 

Over 100 options were studied during this project’s Feasibility Study Phase (2016-2018), including tunnels, ferries, double-deck bridges and other bridge options. From that study, four bridge alternatives were recommended for further evaluation in the Environmental Review Phase. During this phase, we study the impacts and benefits of these alternatives along with a no-build or ‘do nothing’ alternative.

In fall 2020, after a robust evaluation process and gathering input from the public, the project’s Community Task Force and Policy Group recommended the Replacement Long Span as the Preferred Alternative to move forward into design and then construction. Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners approved the Replacement Long Span in October 2020.

Learn about the recommended Preferred Alternative and the other alternatives being studied.

Bridge Type Selection

An important next step in the process is to select the type of long span bridge to build. This also includes the type of movable span. During this phase, we will evaluate a range of different long span and movable span types. At the end of this phase, we will select a single bridge type to move forward for final design. This phase is happening during the Environmental Review phase.

Learn about the Bridge Type Selection phase and what bridge types are being considered.

Environmental Review

During the Environmental Review phase, we prepared an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS. This is federally required by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

This is an important phase of project planning where we take a hard look at the project alternatives and assess their benefits and impacts. This helps us make an informed decision about what to design and build. It guides us in understanding the tradeoffs and deciding which alternative best meets the needs of the project while balancing environmental effects.

During the Environmental Review phase, we look at how each alternative, including the No Build alternative, would affect social, cultural, built and natural resources. We also look at cost, ease of building, ability to survive an earthquake and other factors.

The EIS includes public input gathered throughout the study. During the month of September 2019, we asked the public to review and comment on important elements of the study, including:

In summer 2020, we shared information and asked for community feedback on the Recommended Preferred Alternative and traffic options during construction. In fall 2020, the Policy Group approved the recommendation.

The recommended Preferred Alternative, the Replacement Long Span Bridge, is being further evaluated to help identify what type of long span bridge should be built. After receiving and addressing public comments on the DEIS, Multnomah County and the Federal Highway Administration will review the findings, community input and recommendations before final approval in late 2021. The DEIS was published on February 5th, 2021 and was available for public review and comment through March 24, 2021. The materials are still available for review.

Environmental review is a long and formal process. The goal is to understand the impacts of all the alternatives and choose a single community preferred alternative to design and build. 


Environmental Review Phase: 2019-2021 

Key Milestones:

  • Summer/Fall 2019 – share information and get input on items to consider in the study

  • Spring 2020 – issue formal Notice of Intent and get further input on items to consider in the study

  • Summer 2020 – share findings from the environmental study and ask for community input on the recommended Preferred Alternative

  • Early 2021 – publish the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and get community input

  • Winter 2021 – a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and a Record of Decision (ROD) will approve the Preferred Alternative that can then move into the Design Phase and then Construction

Bridge Type Selection Phase: 2020-2021

Key Milestones:

  • January/February 2021 – share information and get public input on a range of bridge type options and evaluation criteria
  • Summer 2021 – get community input on a recommended bridge type 
  • Fall 2021 – confirm bridge type 

Design Phase:  2022-2024

Construction Phase: 2024-2029

Questions or Comments?

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

The information presented here, and the public and agency input received, may be adopted or incorporated by reference into a future environmental review process to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.