The first bridge built over the Willamette River in Portland in more than 40 years will soon have an official name. Tri-Met, the project owner, is building a 1,720-ft cable-stay bridge for light rail, transit and pedestrian only—no cars allowed here—as part of a larger 7.3-mile project set to open in September 2015.
But as the bridge itself takes shape, so does its name. Running a “name the bridge” suggestion campaign, the 10-member committee tasked with giving the bridge a moniker used those 9,500 suggestions—this is the first time the public has had a say in naming a bridge over the Willamette—to announce the final four: Abigail Scott Duniway Transit Bridge; Cascadia Crossing Bridge; Tillicum Crossing Transit Bridge; and Wy’east Transit Bridge.
The four finalists represent a community leader, local Native American language, a name that speaks to the environment and one that references the purpose of the bridge.
“We selected these names because they reflect aspects of this region’s unique history, values and communicate the importance of community connections, both through transit and a shared history, now and for generations to come,” says Chet Orloff, naming committee chair and 22-year member of the Oregon Geographic Names Board.
Here’s a breakdown on the four names:
Abigail Scott Duniway Transit Bridge: Abigail Scott Duniway was known as the “mother of equal suffrage” in the Northwest. She was dedicated to social justice and led the right to gain voting rights for women in Oregon.
Cascadia Crossing Transit Bridge: Well-known to anyone in the Pacific Northwest, the popular term “Cascadia” refers to the Cascade mountains, a backdrop to much of the Willamette valley. With boundaries defined widely, often stretching into B.C., the term Cascadia is a nod to an entire region.
Tillicum Crossing Transit Bridge: Tillicum is Chinook-devised jargon word that means people, which, in turn, means the Tillicum Crossing Transit Bridge equally translates as Bridge of the People. The jargon was developed to help the Chinook tribe communicate with other tribes and English speakers. Not only does the name give an obvious honor to the Native Americans, but also refers to the people-only orientation of the bridge.
Wy’east Transit Bridge: The original Multnomah Native American name for Mt. Hood would give us the first time that name marks a prominent Portland-area landmark. The letters in the name also relate to the west-east connection of the bridge.
The committee will take comment on the names until March 1.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for TIME, Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.