Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge

A vital element of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project is a new bridge across the Willamette River, the first span built over the river since the addition of the Fremont Bridge in 1973. The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge will be distinctive in the United States, designed to carry light rail trains, buses, cyclists, pedestrians and streetcars, but not private vehicles. However, emergency responders will be able to drive on it if necessary.

The bridge has a cable-stayed design, with two piers in the water. A cable-stayed bridge is a bridge that consists of one or more towers through which cables are strung to support the bridge deck. Cable-stayed bridge types are efficient at spanning long distances while allowing a reduction of the number of piers in the water. Such bridges also can be designed with thinner decks than other bridge types, making possible a more transparent structure and a greater vertical navigation clearance.

Construction on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge began on July 1, 2011. In 2014, the bridge structure will be largely complete, with all cables installed and the deck closed in the middle and with the landside approaches. Work will continue with the addition of light rail systems, such as track and overhead catenary wires, to the structure. The bridge, and the 7.3-mile light rail project, will open on September 12, 2015.

Bridge facts

  • Four-pier cable-stayed bridge type (two piers on land, two in the water at the towers)
  • Approximately 1720 feet in length
  • Two towers, each 180 feet high
  • Typical width is 75.5 feet; at the towers, the width is 110.5 feet
  • Five spans
  • Approximately 3.5 miles of cable
  • Two 14-feet-wide bicycle and pedestrian paths


Learn how the cable-stayed bridge design was chosen.


Light rail bridge construction

December 2013–February 2014
At the West Tower site, bridge deck construction continues in each direction with the help of form travelers; as the deck lengthens, permanent cables are being installed. Construction of the west span between the abutment and the landside piers is complete and the track slab will be added once the bridge deck is complete. By the end of December 32 bridge deck segments and 9 permanent cables will be complete. By the end of February all permanent cables will be complete on the west and the landside closure on the west could be complete.

The Eastside Greenway Trail continues to be closed until June 30, 2014 to allow for the east span between the abutment and landside piers to be installed. Wall installation is mostly complete and trail reconstruction will occur once the east span is complete. The detour for pedestrians and cyclists is SE Water Avenue with new sidewalks and bike lanes and a connection directly to SE 4th Avenue and the Springwater Corridor. Eastside Greenway Trail detour map (416 KB PDF) By the end of December 30 bridge deck segments and 7 permanent cables will be complete. By the end of February all permanent cables will be complete on the east and the landside closure on the east should happen in March.

Learn what happens during each phase of bridge construction.


Naming the Bridge

Learn the timeline and process for selection of an official name for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge. Name the Bridge

Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail BridgeCams

View live footage of construction of the light rail bridge, and time-lapse footage of construction progress.


BridgeView Videos

Watch behind-the-scenes videos about construction of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge.


Slow/no wake zone and exclusion zones

From June 15, 2011, through September 30, 2014, a slow/no wake zone will be in effect to ensure the safety of Willamette River users and construction workers. Beginning July 1, 2011, an exclusion area around the in-water bridge construction site goes into effect.