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TriMet's Steel Bridge improvements project starts Sunday

The Steel Bridge will be closed 28 days for major MAX line maintenance. This impacts all MAX lines, some TriMet bus routes and closes the bridge to cars and trucks.

PORTLAND, Oregon — TriMet’s Steel Bridge Improvements Project is a big one. It will close the Steel Bridge for four weeks starting Sunday. That means changes in your MAX commute, impacts on bus lines and no vehicle traffic through August 29.

Pre-pandemic, TriMet says more than 40,000 riders crossed the Steel Bridge every day.

"Every MAX line touches the Steel Bridge, so every MAX line will be affected in some way," said Tyler Graf of TriMet.

Riders who travel over the bridge may need to plan an extra 35 to 45 minutes for their trip. TriMet will use the Broadway and Burnside bridges to shuttle MAX passengers across the river. The five bus lines that use the Steel Bridge will also be detoured.

Credit: TriMet

The 108-year old Steel Bridge is the focal point of the MAX system, carrying more than 620 light rail trains a day and several TriMet bus lines. It's getting some much-needed repair.

"This is the most ambitious, the biggest capital maintenance project that we've undertaken to date," TriMet says.

During the closure, crews will replace signals, switches and all 9,000 feet of rail on the bridge.

If you prefer some fresh air and exercise, the lower deck of the Steel Bridge will remain open to bicycles and pedestrians throughout the project.

"In some cases actually walking or biking across the bridge might be the fastest alternative," TriMet says.

For those that use TriMet, hand sanitizer and face masks are available. TriMet recently announced it has changed the number of passengers allowed on trains and buses following guidance from Oregon Health Authority.

RELATED: TriMet allowing more people on buses and trains

As of last week, the agency says it has handed out 1.5 million face masks. Many MAX trains now dispense hand sanitizer as do all buses in their fleet.

TriMet has all of this information on its website and will have representatives at adjoining MAX stations to help answer questions throughout the project, which wraps up August 29.

Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and transportation reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at cmcginness@kgw.com or reach out on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.

RELATED: TriMet requires riders to wear face masks