Project four months behind schedule

Portland area drivers can finally say, better late than never.

Four months after it was supposed to reopen, the Morrison Bridge all lanes of the Morrison bridge are once again functioning. Multnomah County, which owns the bridge, declared it fully reopened Saturday evening.

The bridge originally closed last June to replace the slippery steel grating on the deck with a composite material designed to provide better traction in wet weather. The work was originally supposed to be completed shortly after Thanksgiving. But the county and State of Oregon got into disputes with the contractor, Conway Construction, over environmental issues. At one point, work was suspended for seven weeks while new working conditions were negotiated.

Conway was the low bidder on the project, winning the job with a $4.2 million bid even though the county had budgeted $6.5 million for the project. But the delays pushed up the cost and the difference must now be negotiated between Conway and the county. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has also fined Conway $3,600 for allegedly dropping paint and construction materials into the Willamette River, and that has yet to be fully resolved, too.

Some finishing work will be performed over the next few days, including tests to ensure the drawbridge portion is balanced.

The bridge originally opened in 1958. Today it handles more than 50,000 daily trips, connecting downtown to east Portland and providing access to I-5.

The county owns and maintains five other Willamette River bridges and 300 miles of roads. For more information, visit

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