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October 23rd, 2013 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Post-Apocalyptic Suspension

Which Portland bridges are capable of surviving the Big Quake?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

After the big one hits and we Mad-Max our way out of the rubble, which bridges will be available for pedestrian, biking and automobile use? I am preparing a post-disaster beer-run map as part of my emergency kit.

—You Fly, I’ll Buy

A few years ago, I started pushing the Portland doom-quake story so hard my editors actually had to pull me off of it, like a little humpy dog being pried off a larger, presumably more passive dog.

Little has changed. I’m not quite ready to put on a long white robe and parade around with one of those “The End Is Near” signs (though such a career would suit my temperament), but I can tell you this: If you’re hoping to hoist a cold one after the quake, you’d better have either a basement full of PBR or a knack for brewing lager out of the fermenting remains of your friends and neighbors.

Like a passenger on the Hindenburg wondering whether the fire is going to affect the supply of in-flight peanuts, your question suggests a failure to appreciate the scope of the problem.

You see, literally none of the bridges currently serving our city is guaranteed—or even likely—to survive the coming 9.0 Cascadia subduction zone earthquake in usable condition. Your beer run will have to be more like a biathlon, with both swimming and looting stages.

However, there is hope. Let’s have three ragged, forced cheers for government, that yearbook staff of adult society—they’re solving this problem for us, even as we snicker at their mom jeans and pocket protectors.

Both public bridges currently under construction in Portland—the light-rail bridge and the new Sellwood Bridge—are actually designed to survive the horror-quake. Of course, healthcare.gov was designed to work, too. But, hey, at least they’re trying.


QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com

 
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