Since 1926, the Burnside Bridge has served us well. To take us across the river for another 100 years, it needs an upgrade. Over the next several years, Multnomah County will evaluate options for creating a resilient Burnside crossing that will withstand a major earthquake. The first step is to narrow a long list of over 100 options through a screening process to arrive at a short list of recommended options to be evaluated in more detail in a later phase.


Multnomah County has considered more than 100 river crossing options on the Burnside lifeline route as part of a feasibility study. These options have been reviewed by the project’s Senior Agency Staff Group, Stakeholder Representative Group, and Policy Group. The project team has also presented these options at stakeholder and community briefings.  

These options are undergoing an extensive screening process to make sure they meet requirements for a reliable river crossing after a major earthquake. These options include five groupings: 

No Build
Maintain existing bridge as-is.

Seismic Retrofit
Upgrade the existing bridge.

Enhanced Seismic Retrofit
Retrofit most of the existing bridge, but replace the spans over I-5 and the railroad.

Build a new crossing such as a high fixed bridge, low movable bridge, twin bridges or a tunnel.

Enhance Another Bridge
Retrofit or replace a different bridge across the Willamette River.


Each option in these groupings has been screened against the core requirements of seismic resiliency, emergency response, and compatibility with major infrastructure. They have also been screened based on how well they will function immediately after an earthquake in addition to everyday use. 

This screening has resulted in over 20 river crossing options remaining for further consideration. Each remaining option is being further evaluated for its performance in six key categories:

Seismic Resiliency
Does the option support reliable and rapid emergency response after an earthquake?

Non-Motorized Transportation
Does the option support access and safety for bicyclists, pedestrians, and people with disabilities?

Does the option support street system integration and function for all modes?

Does the option minimize adverse impacts to historically marginalized communities and promote transportation equity?

Built Environment
Does the option minimize adverse impacts to existing land use as well as parks and historic resources?

Financial Stewardship
Does the option ensure public funds are invested wisely?

The results will also be shared this summer at public open houses, community briefings, and an on-line event. The options that remain after this step will be evaluated in more detail in a later project phase.

For more information on our screening process, please view our project factsheet:

Project Phasing

Phases of Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge Project