PORTLAND, Ore. -- TriMet was set to pour concrete Friday for the first pillar that will support the new Milwaukie-Portland light rail bridge.
The bridge will span the Willamette River, becoming a big part of TriMet’s new 7.3-mile-long MAX line that will connect Portland State University to Milwaukie.
It’s a huge project that transportation officials say is on track so far.
A huge rebar cage was hoisted into place Thursday, a small step that moved the big project closer to completion.
”To have this first shaft drilled ... have the rebar cage go in and starting to pour concrete … tomorrow is a really big milestone,” said Mary Fetch of TriMet.
The cage will be lowered into a shaft drilled into the floor of the Willamette River, soon becoming the first of 12 pillars that will support the structure.
Unlike other bridges that span the Willamette, this one will be car free.
“With just this being available to pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit, I think it will be a lot better and safer,” cyclist Devon Nash told KGW.
Tri-Met officials say the project will relieve congestion on the Ross Island Bridge and along the McLoughlin corridor, while giving pedestrians and cyclists a safer and easier route across the river.
”My girlfriend works right at OHSU. Instead of having to go all the way down to the Hawthorne bridge, she’ll be able to cross right here and get on the tram and take the tram up to the hospital,” said cyclist Stephen Yates.
But, the project hasn’t been without criticism. The total price tag for both the MAX line and bridge is $1.5 Billion. Federal funding covers half those costs. Local and state governments are responsible for 45 percent and TriMet is paying the remaining five percent.
TriMet argues the project is necessary to handle the 25,000 weekday riders expected to use the new MAX line by the year 2030.