The new Sellwood Bridge span (pictured on the right) will open to traffic on Mar. 1. (Photo: KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -
The historic Sellwood Bridge will close to traffic for the last time Thursday night and people all over came out to say their goodbyes to the 90-year-old bridge.
"I like celebrating community moments," said Portland resident Karen Hubbard. "It is a bridge that has been here connecting the east and west sides for many years, we don’t have many things we recognize that make connections as opposed to divisive."
The Sellwood Bridge opened to traffic on December 15, 1925. But, the deteriorating bridge is now so unsafe, it has to go. People who live in Sellwood say they’re ready.
"Are you kidding me, I live right next to it, so i'll be thrilled when its finished,' said Sellwood resident Pamela Thies. "Sayonara baby!"
"I think its time for it to go, it was rated one of the most dangerous bridges in the country," said Sellwood resident Kent Thies.
Crews spent all day long preparing to close the Sellwood bridge and remove a span between the old and new bridge. The closure will allow them to demolish part of the old east approach and set up the new bridge for traffic.
That also means all traffic will have to find another way across the river, though Highway 43 will still remain open.
"We’ll go down the other way, go down the Ross Island, or the 99," said Pamela Thies. "We know ways to get around traffic as best as we can, but its not perfect, it's going to be bad."
People say they are ready for change, but hoping a piece of the old Sellwood can somehow live on.
"There may be more money to recycle it for scrap metal, I don’t know, but I hope they manage to make good use of it and not toss into a landfill," said Hubbard. "If that doesn’t work, then maybe like the Berlin Wall, they could make little pieces, you know."
The bridge will close down to traffic at 7 p.m. on Thursday. At 7:30 p.m. there will be a candlelight walk will be held across the bridge.
Participants should assemble at SE Grand Avenue off of SE Spokane St. and bring flashlights, electric candles, or phone lights.
Sellwood resident and former Governor Barbara Roberts will say a few words of tribute before a bagpiper leads participants on the farewell walk. Residents can also access the bridge from the west side trail. The bridge will need to be cleared by 8:30 pm so that construction work can begin.
Here are travel tips for bridge users during the closure:
Motor Vehicles: The posted westbound detour routes during the closure are:
Northbound: Hwy. 99E (McLoughlin Blvd.) to Ross Island Bridge to Hwy. 43
Southbound: Hwy. 99E to Interstate 205 (Abernethy Bridge at Oregon City) to Hwy. 43
Eastbound routes are the reverse.
Travelers should plan their alternate route in advance and expect longer trips during the closure.
Officials said the new bridge will be open to traffic March 1.
The public is invited to come out and celebrate the new Sellwood Bridge Saturday, Feb. 27. The opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will take place at 1 p.m.
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