Thursday, July 16, 2009

North Portland Harbor bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge


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What you see here is one of the most-used and yet most obscure bridges in town. The North Portland Harbor bridge carries I-5 between Hayden Island and the south bank of the Columbia. If you've ever been stuck in traffic on I-5, and you looked down and saw houseboats, this is where you were.

North Portland Harbor Bridge

The obscurity is understandable, I guess. It's your basic 50's-60's concrete bridge, and there's nothing very notable, memorable, or decorative about it. It also crosses a side channel of the Columbia (the eponymous "North Portland Harbor", also sometimes called "Oregon Slough") , with the main channel spanned by the much better known Interstate Bridge (about which a post is forthcoming). This bridge is so obscure there isn't even a Structurae page about it, and they've got pages about just about everything. So I have a feeling this post would be the authoritative source of information about it on the interwebs, except that I haven't come across much in the way of useful info to provide about it. At least that makes it easy to post about, I guess.

North Portland Harbor Bridge

I'm mentioning it here because you can (and I did) actually walk across it. There's only a walkway on the east (northbound) side, but it's wide and well separated from traffic, and you've got a nice view of the houseboat harbor below. It's a shame the walkway itself is rather bleak looking, but hey, it was built in the late 50's or so, they built everything grey and bleak back then. Beats me why they did, but they did.

North Portland Harbor Bridge

I'd originally planned to do this and the Interstate in one go. The plan was to take the train to the Expo Center MAX stop; navigate the Marine Drive cloverleaf intersection to the south end of this bridge; cross it and take photos, while not dying; make my way across Hayden Island to the northbound Interstate Bridge; cross it, again taking lots of photos and not dying; get off and find the southbound Interstate Bridge; cross it, more photos, no dying, etc.; from there, make my way back to the North Portland Harbor bridge; retrace steps back to the MAX station, and declare Mission Accomplished.

North Portland Harbor Bridge

As you might recall, I pretty much only have time to do this sort of thing on weekday mornings before work, when I don't have early meetings or a pressing deadline to worry about. So I didn't have a big block of time to do the whole foray at once. So the lite version works like this: Drive to Hayden Island, park in the Safeway parking lot; hop on the sidewalk that curves around back of the store; continue past the Hooters (ex-Waddle's) restaurant; cross the bridge, taking a few photos and not dying; see Marine Drive intersection, turn around and walk back across bridge; walk down under the bridge and take more photos; buy an iced latte and a lemon bar at the Starbucks inside Safeway, just so I'm parked legally; declare Mission Accomplished.

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

I did the Interstate Bridge on a different day, and the Hayden Island and Marine Drive parts of the route aren't likely to be very interesting. Hayden Island is just big-box suburbia, and it's just not very compelling. I mean, I could do it and explain just how pedestrian-unfriendly it is, but it's not like that would be a big revelation, would it?

North Portland Harbor Bridge

Oh, and here's the obligatory not-dying angle: If someone's left a banana peel here, don't slip on it and somehow manage fall off the bridge or tumble into traffic.

North Portland Harbor Bridge

You may be familiar with the big multi-billion-dollar project to replace the Interstate Bridge, just north of here. There's been some discussion about replacing this bridge as part of the process. The mayor and various planning types have expressed an interest in an "iconic" bridge with "height and visual interest" in this location, probably due to the FAA height restrictions over the main channel of the Columbia. I've heard elsewhere (and I can't find a link for this now) that the current intent is to leave this bridge as-is for now, since it doesn't actually "need" replacing the way the Interstate allegedly does.

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

North Portland Harbor Bridge

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