Old bridge honored with one last walk before closing for removal

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID F. ASHTON - This is a Sellwood Bee-exclusive photo juxtaposing the old and new Sellwood Bridges, taken from between the angel wings of Bent 5 in the middle of the Willamette River during construction.Multnomah County has two community events planned to mark the opening of the new Sellwood Bridge — a final Feb. 25 walk across the original bridge before it is dismantled and a Feb. 27 celebration on the new bridge before it opens to traffic on March 1.

The original bridge, which has remained in use while the new bridge was built, will close to traffic for the last time at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25. Half-an-hour later, it will reopen to residents from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for one last chance to say goodbye. Participants are invited to bring flashlights, electric candles, and phone lights for a final walk across the 90-year-old span.

Those taking part should assemble at the east end of the bridge sidewalk at Southeast Grand Avenue before the procession starts at 7:30 pm. There will be time to walk from east to west and back again. The bridge will need to be cleared by 8:30 p.m. so that work to set up the new bridge for traffic can begin.

Then, on Saturday, Feb. 27, the new bridge will be celebrated with a free, family-friendly event from noon to 4 p.m. An opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will kick things off around 1 p.m., followed a the “Through the Decades” parade.

Food carts, retail and non-profit booths will be located on the bridge for the event. There will be entertainment on the main stage and along the bridge, and, the county promises, a few surprises. The first to arrive will receive a Sellwood Bridge lapel pin to commemorate the day.

Due to limited parking, participants are encouraged to walk or bike to the event. Bicycle parking will be provided at the east end of the bridge. Participants are urged to dress warm and bring an umbrella.

Finally, at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1, the new bridge will open to traffic and contractor will begin to remove the original bridge. No traffic will be allowed on either bridge from 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 until then, so plan another route to cross the Willamette River on those days.

Multnomah County is the lead agency for the Sellwood Bridge project. Project partners are the Federal Highway Administration, the City of Portland, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The bridge opening celebration is sponsored by the four companies that have been most involved with designing, managing, and building the project: CH2M, Inc., David Evans and Associates, Inc., the Slayden-Sundt Joint Venture, and T.Y. Lin International. The county also wants to thanks New Seasons Market, Oaks Amusement Park, SMILE (the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League) and the Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance for their support for the celebration.

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