A beautiful May afternoon this past Saturday—the high springtime has come to Portland with tangerine skies & temperatures on the warm side of comfortable. This being the case, the day seemed ideal for another bridge walk, & so I caught the train, then caught the other train (yellow to blue, in a sort of kid’s game of color coded routes), until I found myself on SW Morrison Avenue, right at the edge of downtown proper.
The Morrison Bridge is a major artery in Portland, as it serves as a connector to the two interstate highways that travel thru the city—I-84, which runs east (southeast actually) to Salt Lake City) & I-5, which passes thru Portland on its north/south route between Los Angeles & Seattle. As such, the bridge’s 6 lanes of traffic tend to be bustling—50,000 cars per day cross the Morrison. It’s much less busy than most of the other bridges in terms of public transit, however; only the #15 Belmont bus crosses this bridge.
What the Morrison does have is a beautiful walkway/bike path, partitioned off from all that vehicular traffic with a guardrail. It is worth noting that the walkway is only on the southern side of the bridge. There is a narrow walkway on the north side, but as I was crossing, I decided it didn’t look at all inviting, & so I only crossed on the south side. I did see two bicyclists grimly walking their bikes in single file along the north side, but it didn’t look like very much fun at all!
The Morrison is also a drawbridge, like so many of Portland’s Willamette River spans, & it’s a bascule mechanism; in other words, the two sections “lift & separate.” Because the bridge is relatively high (69 foot clearance), it only needs to open on the average of 30 times per month—& no, I wasn’t treated to one of those openings during my crossing!
All of the Portland bridges have a distinctive “look,” & the Morrison is no exception; it’s described as “minimalist,” but it also has the distinguishing control towers that have been described as looking like air traffic control towers. For more about the bridge, you can check out the article on Wikipedia or the one on the Multnomah County website.
In addition to beautiful views of downtown Portland & the Willamette, on a clear day you can see Mount Hood from the Morrison, as evidenced by the photo below! The Morrison, like the Steel, the Burnside & the Hawthorne, connects to the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, & that’s how I wended my way back to Rose Quarter & the homeward train.
I’ve now crossed & written about five of the 10 Willamette Bridges. Two of the remaining five aren’t open to pedestrian traffic—the Marquam Bridge carries I-5, while the Fremont Bridge carries I-405. I’ll write them up, however. Still to come: the Sellwood (if I can get to it before it’s closed for repair!), the Ross Island, & the St. John’s bridge. Stay tuned!