Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vanport Bridge

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The next Columbia Slough bridge on our little tour is the newest, other than the recently replaced Vancouver Ave. bridge. The Vanport Bridge is the long elevated structure right next to the Denver Ave. bridge that carries the MAX Yellow Line over the slough, Columbia Boulevard, the Union Pacific rail line, and a long stretch of industrial land north of the slough. Altogether it's nearly 4000 feet long. It's a fairly utilitarian-looking structure, so TriMet has tried a few things to, I guess, humanize it a little. First, they had the public vote on names for the bridge back in 2003, before the line opened, and "Vanport Bridge" was the overwhelming winner of that contest. (Not to be confused with an entirely different Vanport Bridge in Pennsylvania, which carries Interstate 376 over the Ohio River somewhere near Pittsburgh.)

TriMet also spent a decent chunk of the MAX line's One Percent for Art money on public art to decorate the bridge. From TriMet's Yellow Line art guide:

Spencer T. Houser and Chris Rizzo present two approaches to the nearly 4,000-foot light rail bridge.
  • Ninety flaming comets inspired by the car culture of the '50s blaze northward from Kenton.
  • Blue metal panels on the north end of the bridge allude to the Columbia River.

Despite the art it hasn't yet become a beloved local landmark, so there isn't a lot of stuff about it out on the net. I did find a few mentions of it from TriMet and various engineering firms that had a hand in its construction:

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