Portland’s newest and most unique bridge is opening to the public September 12; Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People. This is the largest car-free transit bridge in the U.S. and it reaches over 1,700 feet in length.

atillicum-bridgeTilikum Bridge differs from other bridges in Portland due to the fact that this bridge is designed for TriMet’s MAX Orange Line light-rail trains, Portland Streetcar, buses, bicycles and pedestrians only. This is unlike the other public transit bridges that cross the Willamette allowing cars and trucks.

It is also the first new bridge in Portland since 1973 and is located between the Marquam and the Ross Island Bridges.

Tilikum Bridge is an essential asset to a the Portland-Milwaukie light rail transit that will connect north Clackamas County, Milwaukie and inner SE Portland with downtown Portland and the regional MAX system. The light rail will travel 7.3 miles between PSU, inner SE Portland, Milwaukie and Oak Grove in north Clackamas County. The project is also building approximately 10.3 miles of new or replaced sidewalks, around 7.8 miles of new or replaced bicycle facility improvements and a total of 446 bike parking spaces, including two secure Bike & Rides.

The project started in 2009 and since has created over 6,000 direct jobs. The line is expected to benefit the local economy by saving those who choose to ride thousands annually. With the recent growth and popularity of the Portland area, new means of transportation are crucial.

For the first time in this region’s history, the public was encouraged to help name the bridge. There were over 9,500 submissions for the name. The naming committee narrowed it down to four contenders. After evaluating public input, Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People took the prize. The word ‘Tilikum’ means ‘people’ in Chinook Wawa, a local Native American tribe.

Not only does the bridge help with commuter congestion, it is intended to act as city art as well. Artists Anna Valentina Murch and Doug Hollis are designing a light system that will change color and shapes on the cables and piers, to reflect on the water in the evenings.

For more information on Portland’s newest Bridge see: trimet.org/namethebridge/about.htm