One is short and flat, the other long and curvy. They are Portland’s two newest bridges: the 200-foot-long Ned Flanders Crossing Bike and Pedestrian Bridge (opened last June), which spans Interstate 405 and connects Northwest Portland to the Pearl District, and the 475-foot-long Congressman Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge (scheduled to open this summer), whose arches will span Sullivan’s Gulch, Interstate 84 and two rail lines at Northeast 7th Avenue.
As pedestrians die in record numbers on Portland streets, and officials push to spend nearly $5 billion to replace the Interstate Bridge, Portland’s commitment to low-budget spans ($9.5 million for Flanders, $13.7 million for Blumenauer) that will make getting around on foot or by bike safer and more fun is a cause for celebration.
“These two new bridges are important infrastructure from a transportation perspective, creating safe, comfortable connections for people walking, rolling and biking across parts of town that were previously noisy, stressful and dangerous,” says Sarah Iannarone, executive director of the Street Trust. “But they’re also important from a cultural perspective: Model cities don’t just build projects, they build dreams and visions. These might be little bridges, but they’re big symbols for Portland as a city that prioritizes human health and happiness over motordom—a city with soul.”
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