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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 1331, Portland, OR 97204

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Media Relations

Dylan Rivera

Public Information Officer


For breaking news from Portland Bureau of Transportation see our Twitter feed: @PBOTinfo

For breaking news on overall service disruptions in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, go to @publicalerts or see 

News Release: Portland celebrates historic restoration of NW Thurman Street Bridge that improves emergency access

Fire truck response times cut by 4 minutes

(Oct. 17, 2014) Commissioner Steve Novick and the Portland Bureau of Transportation celebrated the reopening of the NW Thurman Street Bridge, the oldest bridge in Oregon, in a ceremony today at Lower Macleay Park in Northwest Portland.

The six-month rehabilitation project strengthened the bridge and restored historic features for the structure, which was built in 1905, in time for the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition, a fair that preceded a remarkable era of growth in Portland.

“Not only does the Thurman Street Bridge have a great historic legacy, it is a hallmark of the surrounding neighborhood. Through well-coordinated collaboration of multiple City bureaus and government agencies, we were able to preserve the historic character of the bridge while modernizing it to meet today’s needs,” said Commissioner Novick, who oversees the Transportation Bureau. “Local residents have been incredibly patient as crews worked, and we’re all very excited to know that the bridge will stand tall for many more years to come.”

The bridge is a gateway to Forest Park and a crucial route for Northwest Portland residents, said Phil Selinger, board member of Northwest District Association, the neighborhood association for the area.

“It was a challenging project, but to the Willamette Heights community this is their portal, one of only a few ways to get to the neighborhood,” Selinger said. “The City did an excellent job of finding the funds, researching the history, and giving back to the neighborhood something that is so much nicer than we had before.”

Before the rehabilitation, City engineers placed restrictions intended to slow the bridge’s deterioration. Fire trucks were prohibited from using it, so Portland Fire & Rescue emergency responders had to use a longer route to enter the neighborhood.

With the rehabilitation complete, the weight restriction has been lifted and a fire truck crossed the bridge today for the first time in about 20 years.

“We are excited about the completion of this rehabilitation and modernization project!” said Portland Fire & Rescue Emergency Operations Division Chief Jim Forquer who is in charge of Emergency Operations for PF&R. “Regaining the use of the NW Thurman Street Bridge will improve our response times into many of these areas by over 4 minutes and during a critical medical event or fire, every second counts.”

The old wooden deck was subject to seasonal moisture-induced shrinkage and expansion, which contributed to cracks and potholes on the road surface. The new deck is made of steel girders, steel deck panels, concrete infill and an asphalt surface that should be more durable.

The Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association named it Project of the Year for 2014 for Historic Restoration/Preservation projects under $5 million. The award, announced Thursday night at a conference in Pendleton, named the City of Portland and contractor Cascade Bridge LLC of Vancouver, Wash.

NW Thurman Street Bridge at Macleay Park is also known at the Balch Gulch Bridge, named for Danford Balch, an early settler of the area that later became Northwest Portland.

In 1905, the bridge was lined with a beautiful pedestrian railing. However, in 1955, it was replaced with a green chain link fence. The rehabilitation project installed a new decorative railing, modeled after the original.

“One of the great parts of the current rehabilitation project was recreating the historic ornamental-style railing and adding a bit of style with the pine cone end post caps befitting the location at the entrance to Forest Park,” said Robert Hadlow, historian for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Funding for the $3.79 million project came from the Federal Highway Administration's Highway Bridge Program and PBOT’s general transportation revenue, which is comprised of state gas tax and local parking revenue. The federal contribution totals $3.4 million and the City's local match totals $390,000.

The bridge was closed for construction April 1 and reopened on Friday, Oct. 10.

David O'Longaigh, the City Bridge Engineer, thanked TriMet for providing shuttle service during the construction period and thanked the Bureau of Environmental Services and Portland Water Bureau for their cooperation.

See the project web site for more information and see PBOT’s Flickr account for images from today’s celebration.

Photos by Felicity J. Mackay/Portland Bureau of Transportation


News Advisory: Commissioner Novick, community members to celebrate reopening of Thurman Street Bridge, Oregon’s oldest span, Friday Oct. 17

(Oct. 16, 2014) Commissioner Steve Novick will join neighborhood leaders, community members and Portland Bureau of Transportation staff in celebrating the reopening of the Thurman Street Bridge on Friday, after a rehabilitation project that modernized the oldest bridge in Oregon. As part of the celebration, a Portland Fire & Rescue fire truck will cross the bridge for the first time in about 20 years. PBOT experts will be on hand to describe a recent award for the project from the Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

WHO:   Commissioner Steve Novick

Phil Selinger, Northwest District Association

David O'Longaigh, City Bridge Engineer   

Robert Hadlow, Historian for the Oregon Department of Transportation

WHAT:  Celebration of the reopening of the Thurman Street Bridge

WHEN:  10:30-11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 17, 2014

WHERE:  Entrance to Macleay Park, 2960 NW Upshur St. Vehicle parking is very limited. News media and public are advised to arrive early, park and walk.

WHY:  The modernization of the oldest bridge in Oregon means that PBOT can lift a weight restriction that had limited fire truck and bus access to Northwest Portland neighborhoods. PBOT, Portland Fire & Rescue and the Northwest Portland community are celebrating the reopening, after a six-month closure for construction.

VISUALS:  Commissioner Novick, staff and community members to unveil a bridge plaque replica. Participants will walk to the bridge and view the first crossing by a Portland fire truck in about 20 years.


News Advisory: Crosswalk enforcement action to promote pedestrian safety slated for

(October 15, 2014) – The Portland Bureau of Transportation and Portland Police Bureau advise the traveling public that a crosswalk enforcement action is scheduled for Wednesday, October 22, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. to raise awareness of pedestrian safety and Oregon traffic laws.

Each crosswalk enforcement action involves a designated pedestrian crossing at a marked or unmarked crosswalk while police monitor how people who are driving, bicycling and walking  adhere to traffic safety laws.

Drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk and pedestrians who fail to follow Oregon traffic laws may be issued a warning or citation.

The N Lombard Street at N Leavitt Avenue crossing has a marked crosswalk (marked on one leg), curb extensions, and signage to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians in the crossing. 

Crosswalk enforcement actions are an effective way to communicate pedestrian right of way laws to both drivers and pedestrians. The transportation and police bureaus do enforcement actions about once each month in response to requests by community members, city traffic safety engineers, and Portland Police to educate the general public on the rules at marked and unmarked crossings.

Learn more about the Transportation Bureau’s safety work at and pedestrian rights and responsibilities at



Traffic Advisory: Street improvements to close lanes on NE Killingsworth from 33rd to 41st avenues Oct. 16-20

(October 14, 2014)  – The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation advises the traveling public that street improvements will require lane closures of NE Killingsworth Street from NE 33rd  Avenue to NE 41st Avenue from Thursday, October 16, through Monday, October 20, 7 a.m. through 5 p.m. each weekday. Some work may also be done this weekend.

 The lane closures will allow crews to grind and pave sections of the road equaling approximately 1.01 lane miles.

 Parking restriction barricades will be in place one or two workdays before the start of work.

 Access will be maintained for businesses and residents. The public is advised to expect delays while repairs are being made. We ask the public to travel cautiously, observe all lane closures and directions by flaggers, and use alternate routes if possible.

This work is weather-dependent and the schedule may change.



News Release: Portland City Council to review transportation funding options at work session on Monday, Oct. 13

(Oct. 9, 2014) – The Portland City Council will discuss the Our Streets PDX transportation funding approaches recommended by two workgroups at a work session at 3 p.m., Monday, Oct. 13 in City Council Chambers.

The work session will be the first opportunity for council to review the workgroup recommendations. No decisions will be made at the work session. Public comments may be submitted in writing to A first reading of a transportation funding proposal is currently scheduled during the Nov. 12 regular Council meeting.

The workgroups’ recommendations were published on Sept. 26 and are available at The report summarizes areas of agreement and differences. Additional details of a funding proposal will be refined by Council in the coming weeks.

Areas of agreement by workgroup members include the following: our transportation system needs more resources, impacts on low-income residents should be minimized, and new transportation funds should be spent on prioritized maintenance and safety needs. The workgroups also recommend funding mechanisms that collect revenue from businesses through a fee correlated with transportation use and from residents through an income tax.

Consensus was not reached on the following four areas:

Safety and maintenance split: Some workgroup members support allocating 50 percent of funds to maintenance and 50 percent to safety (e.g. sidewalks, crossing improvements, etc.). Some support a higher percentage for maintenance.

Residential income tax rates: For the highest income residents, workgroup members considered three cap options at either $20 a month for taxpayers making over $250,000 (annual gross income for 2-person, joint filers), $100 a month for taxpayers making over $500,000 (annual gross income for 2-person, joint filers), or $200 a month for taxpayers making over $500,000 (annual gross income for 2-person, joint filers). Since all options are designed to raise the same amount of money, a higher cap for high-income people translates to lower taxes for some people with lower incomes, while a lower cap for high-income people translates to higher taxes for some people with lower incomes.

Sunset: Some support automatically ending the program after six years of implementation, unless it is approved by voters at that time. Some support referring it only if an oversight committee and the city council decide to refer it, after six years.

Reallocating current City resources: Many workgroup members supported a reallocation of additional City general fund resources. Some recommend increasing the share of Utility License Fee revenue to transportation.

Web Site Update

At the web site, the public can learn more about transportation funding. The web site has been updated with three two-page summaries describing the planned investments in preventive maintenance, plus safety and maintenance on busy streets and residential streets.


Public involvement in the Our Streets PDX funding effort began in January, when the Transportation Needs and Funding Advisory Committee was formed to advise Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick. In the months since, PBOT held nine town hall meetings, conducted two public opinion surveys, convened advisory committees and gave staff presentations at more than a dozen neighborhood coalition and business group meetings.

A Business Workgroup and a Nonprofit and Low-Income Workgroup were both formed in July to provide additional input from stakeholders. Throughout the summer, committee and workgroup members met to review the Transportation User Fee proposed in May and to provide feedback on alternative residential and business funding mechanisms. The members represent diverse interests from across Portland, including neighborhoods, businesses, low-income residents, community organizations and public institutions.

For more information, see the project web page: