Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People

A vital element of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit 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. Named Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, this 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.

The bridge name is Chinook Wawa, an international language used by first Oregonians, and later spoken by explorers, fur traders, settlers and the first few generations of Portlanders. Chinook Wawa is still spoken today. Tilikum means people, tribe and relatives, and has come to mean friendly people and friends.

Construction on the 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 1,720 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.


Bridge construction

April–July 2014
The pylons that create each of the two bridge towers will be completed with concrete pours for the top of each pylon. The bridge deck will be completed with a concrete pour at its center point over the Willamette River. Crews will begin installing light rail track across the bridge, followed by the overhead electrical system that powers MAX trains and Portland Streetcars.



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


BridgeView Videos

Watch behind-the-scenes videos about construction of the 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.