Burnside Bridge

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Burnside Bridge
Coordinates 45°31′23″N122°40′01″W / 45.5231°N 122.667°W / 45.5231; -122.667 Coordinates: 45°31′23″N122°40′01″W / 45.5231°N 122.667°W / 45.5231; -122.667
Crosses Willamette River
Locale Portland, Oregon
Maintained by Multnomah County
ID number 02757
DesignDouble-leaf "Strauss-type" bascule
Total length1,382 ft (421 m)
Width73.8 ft (22.5 m)
Longest spanFixed: 268 ft (82 m) [1]
Double-leaf bascule: 252 ft (77 m) [1] [2]
Clearance below 64 ft (20 m) closed
Designer Ira G. Hedrick;
Robert E. Kremers
OpenedMay 28, 1926
(replaced 1894 bridge)
Burnside Bridge
Location Portland, Oregon; Willamette River at river mile 12.7
MPS Willamette River Highway Bridges of Portland, Oregon
NRHP reference # 12000931 [3]
Added to NRHPNovember 14, 2012 [3]

The Burnside Bridge is a 1926-built bascule bridge that spans the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, United States, carrying Burnside Street. It is the second bridge at the same site to carry that name. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 2012. [3] [4]

Bascule bridge moveable bridge using a counterweight to balance a span through its upward swing to let boats move underneath

A bascule bridge is a moveable bridge with a counterweight that continuously balances a span, or "leaf", throughout its upward swing to provide clearance for boat traffic. It may be single- or double-leafed.

Willamette River major river in northwest Oregon

The Willamette River is a major tributary of the Columbia River, accounting for 12 to 15 percent of the Columbia's flow. The Willamette's main stem is 187 miles (301 km) long, lying entirely in northwestern Oregon in the United States. Flowing northward between the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Range, the river and its tributaries form the Willamette Valley, a basin that contains two-thirds of Oregon's population, including the state capital, Salem, and the state's largest city, Portland, which surrounds the Willamette's mouth at the Columbia.

Portland, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Portland is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. As of 2018, Portland had an estimated population of 653,115, making it the 25th most populated city in the United States, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest. Approximately 2.4 million people live in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), making it the 25th most populous MSA in the United States. Its Combined Statistical Area (CSA) ranks 19th-largest with a population of around 3.2 million. Approximately 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.



The bridge was designed by Ira G. Hedrick [5] and Robert E. Kremers, incorporating a bascule lift mechanism designed by Joseph Strauss. [2]

Ira Grant Hedrick was an American civil engineer who designed the Burnside Bridge in Oregon, the Red River Bridge, Clarendon, and Newport bridges in Arkansas, and many other bridges and viaducts. Hedrick designed many large scale bridges in Arkansas in late 1920s through early 1930s. Hedrick was also president of the Kansas City Viaduct and Terminal Railway Company. The Historic American Engineering Record says that he was "one of the outstanding engineers of the South".

Joseph Strauss (engineer) American structural engineer

Joseph Baermann Strauss was an American structural engineer of German descent, who revolutionized the design of bascule bridges. He was the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge.

The bridge almost fully opened Burnside Bridge (south side) open.jpg
The bridge almost fully opened

Including approaches, the Burnside has a total length of 2,308 ft (703 m) and a 251 ft (77 m) center span. While lowered this span is normally 64 ft (20 m) above the river. The deck is made of concrete, which contributes to its being one of the heaviest bascule bridges in the United States. [2] The counterweights, housed inside the two piers, weigh 1,700 short tons (1,518 long tons; 1,542 t). The lifting is normally controlled by the Hawthorne Bridge operator, but an operator staffs the west tower during high river levels. As of 2005, the bridge opened for river traffic an average of 35 times a month. [2] :47

Counterweight equivalent weight that balances a load

A counterweight is a weight that, by exerting an opposite force, provides balance and stability of a mechanical system. Its purpose is to make lifting the load more efficient, which saves energy and is less taxing on the lifting machine.

Hawthorne Bridge bridge in Portland, Oregon, USA

The Hawthorne Bridge is a truss bridge with a vertical lift that spans the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, joining Hawthorne Boulevard and Madison Street. It is the oldest vertical-lift bridge in operation in the United States and the oldest highway bridge in Portland. It is also the busiest bicycle and transit bridge in Oregon, with over 8,000 cyclists and 800 TriMet buses daily. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 2012.

The bridge provides shelter for the initially unauthorized Burnside Skatepark under the east end. [6] On weekends, the Portland Saturday Market was held mostly under the bridge's west end for many years. The market was reoriented in 2009, but the Burnside Bridge continues to provide shelter for a few vendor stalls at the market's northern end.

Burnside Skatepark sports venue

The Burnside Skatepark is a DIY concrete skatepark located in Portland, Oregon, United States. It is located under the east end of the Burnside Bridge. The project was started without permission from the city of Portland before being accepted as a public skatepark. Its features include many hips, pools, pyramids, and vertical sections. The skatepark is free-admission and requires no helmet, protective knee-pads, or elbow-pads. The skatepark receives no funding from the city of Portland. The park is regarded as an on-going project that is funded by donations.

Portland Saturday Market

The Portland Saturday Market is an outdoor arts and crafts market in Portland, Oregon. It is the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States. It is held every Saturday and Sunday from the beginning of March through December 24, in Tom McCall Waterfront Park underneath Burnside Bridge and south of the bridge, as well as within an adjacent plaza just across Naito Parkway, extending west to the Skidmore Fountain. The market's hours of operations are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m on Sundays, and admission is free. The market is accessible by foot, bicycle, Segway, and TriMet's MAX Light Rail line which stops near the market at the Skidmore Fountain stop. The market has over 400 members and generates an estimated $12 million in gross sales annually. It has become a central economic engine for the historic Old Town Chinatown neighborhood, and attracts an estimated 750,000 visitors to this area each year.


In 1891, Burnside Street was renamed from "B" street to take the name of Dan Wyman Burnside, a local businessman who was a proponent of the 1866 dredging of the Willamette River. [2] Construction of the original Burnside Bridge began in November 1892, and the bridge opened on July 4, 1894. [7] It was a swing-span truss bridge made of wrought iron and steel. [8]

Burnside Street

Burnside Street is a major thoroughfare of Portland, in the U.S. state of Oregon, and one of a few east–west streets that run uninterrupted on both sides of the Willamette River. It serves as the dividing line between North Portland and South Portland. Its namesake bridge, Burnside Bridge, is one of the most heavily traversed in Portland.

Swing bridge movable bridge that has a vertical locating pin and support ring about which the turning span can pivot horizontally

A swing bridge is a movable bridge that has as its primary structural support a vertical locating pin and support ring, usually at or near to its center of gravity, about which the turning span can then pivot horizontally as shown in the animated illustration to the right. Small swing bridges as found over canals may be pivoted only at one end, opening as would a gate, but require substantial underground structure to support the pivot.

Truss bridge Bridge whose load-bearing superstructure is composed of a truss

A truss bridge is a bridge whose load-bearing superstructure is composed of a truss, a structure of connected elements usually forming triangular units. The connected elements may be stressed from tension, compression, or sometimes both in response to dynamic loads. Truss bridges are one of the oldest types of modern bridges. The basic types of truss bridges shown in this article have simple designs which could be easily analyzed by 19th and early 20th-century engineers. A truss bridge is economical to construct because it uses materials efficiently.

The replacement was part of a $4.5 million bond that also included the construction of the Ross Island and Sellwood bridges. The public would later learn that the contract was given for $500,000 more than the lowest bid. Three Multnomah County commissioners were recalled as a result of the scandal, and a new engineering company assumed control of the project.

Ross Island Bridge

The Ross Island Bridge is a cantilever truss bridge that spans the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. It carries U.S. Route 26 across the river between southwest and southeast Portland. The bridge opened in 1926 and was designed by Gustav Lindenthal and honors Oregon pioneer Sherry Ross. It is named for its proximity to Ross Island. Although it looks like a deck arch bridge, it is a cantilever deck truss bridge, a rare type in Oregon.

Sellwood Bridge bridge in United States of America

The Sellwood Bridge is a deck arch bridge that spans the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, in the United States. The current bridge opened in 2016 and replaced a 1925 span that had carried the same name. The original bridge was Portland's first fixed-span bridge and, being the only river crossing for miles in each direction, the busiest two-lane bridge in Oregon. The Sellwood Bridge links the Sellwood and Westmoreland neighborhoods of Portland on the east side with Oregon Route 43/Macadam Avenue on the west side. At its east end it leads to Tacoma Street. The bridge is owned and operated by Multnomah County. The original span of 1925 was a steel truss bridge, while its 2016 replacement is a deck-arch-type bridge.

One of the bridge's two ornate towers Burnside Bridge east tower.jpg
One of the bridge's two ornate towers

The bridge opened on May 28, 1926, at a final cost of $4.5 million (including approaches). It was the first Willamette River bridge in Portland designed with input from an architect. [1] This led to the Italian Renaissance towers and decorative metal railings. The bascule system was designed by Joseph Strauss. The initial principal engineer for the bridge construction was the firm of Hedrick & Kremers. The bridge was then completed by Gustav Lindenthal, [9] who also supervised its construction. [2]

Streetcars crossed the Burnside Bridge until 1950, [10] and electric trolleybuses serving the Sandy Blvd. route did so from 1936 to 1958. [11] Currently, three TriMet bus routes use the bridge.

In the 1990s the Burnside Bridge was made a Regional Emergency Transportation Route, the one non-freeway bridge to be used by emergency vehicles. In 1995 one of the six lanes was removed to accommodate new bicycle lanes. From March until November 2002 the bridge went through a $2.1 million seismic retrofit, making it the first bridge operated by Multnomah County to receive earthquake protection.

The bridge was under construction in 2006 in order to replace the deck. [12] The electric streetcar tracks, abandoned in 1950, were visible during the construction. This project was budgeted at $9 million and the majority of the work was completed on December 9, 2007. [13] [14] The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places [15] in November 2012. [4]

Burnside Skatepark Burnside Skatepark Portland, Oregon.JPG
Burnside Skatepark

The Eastbank Esplanade, which opened in 2001, is connected to the bridge by stairs added during the esplanade's construction. However, because of the bridge's age, it cannot support any extra weight, so the stairways must be supported by separate pilings. [16]

Indie rock band the Mountain Goats prominently mention the Burnside Bridge in the lyrics of their 2012 song "Steal Smoked Fish". [17]

See also

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wood Wortman, Sharon; Wortman, Ed (2006). The Portland Bridge Book (3rd ed.). Urban Adventure Press. pp. 45–52. ISBN   0-9787365-1-6.
  3. 1 2 3 "Weekly list of actions taken on properties: 11/13/12 through 11/16/12". National Park Service. November 23, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  4. 1 2 Tims, Dana (November 21, 2012). "Four Multnomah County bridges listed on National Register of Historic Places". The Oregonian. p. B1. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
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  10. Hatch, Tom (February 27, 1980). "End of lines 30 years ago: New 'trolleys' can't beat old ones". The Oregonian, p. D7.
  11. Sebree, Mac; and Ward, Paul (1974). The Trolley Coach in North America (Interurbans Special 59). Los Angeles: Interurbans. LCCN 74-20367.
  12. "Burnside Bridge Span Rehabilitation". City of Portland. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
  13. Redden, Jim (December 13, 2005). "County gears up to do bridge work". Portland Tribune . Retrieved April 21, 2013.[ permanent dead link ]
  14. "Burnside Bridge Lift Span Rehabilitation". Archived from the original on 2007-05-26. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  15. Harden, Kevin (November 20, 2012). "Four downtown bridges earn historic honors". Portland Tribune . Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  16. "Eastbank Esplanade". The City of Portland. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  17. Barbour, Kyle. ""The Annotated Mountain Goats: Steal Smoked Fish b/w In the Shadow of the Western Hills"" . Retrieved September 29, 2017.