A report of a suspicious toolbox shut down the Steel Bridge for more than 90 minutes during rush hour Tuesday.
Police said the report first came in at 4:20 p.m. of a suspect who placed a toolbox on the bridge and then ran away.
Investigators said what really happened was a spare, empty fare box fell out of a TriMet maintenance truck. A cyclist spotted it, stopped and put it on the bridge railing. He then ran back to his bicycle and rode away, police said.
A passerby saw that and called 911.
Portland police responded to the scene, and the bomb squad was called out at 5:15 p.m. Investigators determined that the box did not contain any explosives, police said.
Officers cleared the scene at about 6 p.m., and traffic slowly started making its way across the bridge again.
Although the toolbox was not an explosive device, Portland police said the 911 call was appropriate based on what the caller observed.
"Don't be the person the next day after a tragedy sitting there thinking, 'I saw that guy. I saw that thing and didn't say anything.' We'd rather you call and be wrong than have something tragic happen," said Portland Police Spokesman Pete Simpson.
TriMet is now investigating why the box fell out of the vehicle.
Tuesday's scare on the Steel Bridge is just one of several that have been called in across the metro area since Monday's tragedy near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
A report of a suspicious item on a bus near Southwest 5th and Alder in Portland on Tuesday turned out to be nothing, a TriMet spokeswoman said.
A package scare on Tuesday afternoon forced the evacuation of the Gresham Fred Meyer store after a robbery at a nearby bank, investigators said. They later determined that the package did not contain any explosives.
"I think it's crazy," said Michael Pelroy, who works near the store. "I don't know what to think of it. I can't believe it."
Portland police tend to see a spike in similar calls after any type of high-profile incident, a spokesman said.
Portland runner Molly Hart told FOX 12 that her sister was working just two blocks away from the blasts in Boston. She's now keeping a closer eye on what happens here at home.
"I think I'm more aware today than I was yesterday," Hart said. "But we'll see if that continues."
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