Two years of work to repair and upgrade Portland’s Burnside Bridge has reached the final few weeks of projects, complete with a new traffic layout and construction that included upgrades to the bridge’s surface, structure, mechanical and electrical functions. 

The Strauss-type double-leaf bascule, built in 1926 with a length of 2,251 ft and width of 86 ft, crosses the Willamette River in downtown Portland. A 2015 study by Multnomah County showed that of the county’s six Willamette River bridges, the Burnside Bridge needed the most repairs to its cracking and crumbling concrete and rusting steel framework. That realization kicked off a planning process that completed in 2016 and launched construction in spring 2017. 

The roughly $22 million project, overseen by Multnomah County with HDR Inc. designing the repairs and Hamilton Construction serving as the general contractor, included spot repairs to pavement, sidewalks, overhangs and railings, replacing expansion joints and painting signs. Structural repairs fixed cracks in the piers, repaired concrete columns holding up the bridge, including the beams and girders, painted steel trusses and repaired the inside of the internal steel towers connected to the piers. 

The drawbridge span’s motor and locks were replaced. The bridge also received an upgrade to the power supply and drawbridge controls. 

The county says the Burnside Bridge Maintenance Project will ensure the bridge is safe and keep it working for another 15 to 20 years until a more long-term solutions is found. 

With the structural work completed on the bridge, crews plan to finish up some of the cosmetic changes to the roadway in November, including installing new candlesticks to divide bike lanes from driving lanes. While the structural makeup of the bridge didn’t change, the county took the opportunity to update the traffic design with new striping.

The fresh layout now has the Burnside Bridge carrying four lanes of vehicular traffic — two westbound and two eastbound — along with 8-ft-wide raised sidewalks on either side of the bridge and two 5-1/2-ft bike lanes, one heading in each direction. The white candlesticks are in the 2-ft-wide buffer zone separating vehicle traffic and bike traffic, meant to improve safety for cyclists. The new set-up also includes an eastbound transit-only lane. The new lane, according to the county, will serve more than 25,000 riders across three different bus lines. 

“Even though this bus-only lane is in the heart of Portland it will speed up trips for riders from Tigard, Beaverton, Clackamas and Gresham as well by moving buses around congestions,” said Doug Kelsey, TriMet general manager, in a statement. The work on the new traffic layout on Burnside Bridge was a cooperative effort between TriMet, Multnomah County, Metro and the Portland Bureau of Transportation. 

In the next few months, Hamilton Construction will install protective fencing along the edge of the Burnside Bridge above Interstate 5, the final touches in the project. 

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb