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Lance Lindahl

So now that things are relatively settled with the Wilamette River Bridge, does this mean that the design community will finally speak up in regards to the other half dozen smaller bridges that are a part of this project?

Things have been awfully quiet out there so far. Quality design matters at Riverplace, and in Southeast Portland and Downtown Milwaukie too right?

Are those crickets and blowing tumbleweeds that I am hearing?

It would be sad to see the rest of this rail line composed of nothing but cookie-cutter, pre-cast, generic, freeway ramp style bridges.

David Benson

One difficulty that I have in fairly comparing the cable-stay bridge vs. the hybrid is lack of detailed drawings. The only representations I've seen so far are images from from the perspective of 1000 feet distant or more.

If the non-design community is to be persuaded, we must be educated with more than metaphors and generalities. We need help in learning how to see the differences in quality that justifies higher costs. We need not just judgments, but the detailed, specific arguments, along with illustrations. Was such a critique made available to the committee and is such a critique available to the public?

Brian Libby

That is a GREAT point David. I wish there were more detailed drawings and renderings I could show you! Even at the WRBAC committee meeting, as people were voting on which bridge type to approve, it was based on one enlarged JPEG rendering per bridge type -- the same images that I posted last week before the meeting.

I'll completely grant you that my post is stronger on generalities and metaphors than on detailed info. I'll try to provide more of that as it becomes available. But failing the existence of that info, my observations are all I can provide.

Hopefully, though, I will have more posts about this in the future that give the content both you and I are looking for.

Michael Davalt

I am sorry to have missed this meeting. I was at the first one, and I was impressed with Rosales's argument for his design, particularly his emphasis on the importance of aesthetic considerations when designing a structure that we must live with for a long time to come.

I haven't seen the alternative, but the Rosales design was a beautiful, graceful structure that would have become a Portland landmark. It was superior to the cable-stayed alternative he included in his presentation. Bridges are powerful symbols, and deserve to be treated as such. Our city faces a beautiful river, and we ought to invest in a structure that becomes it.

I too believe in full participation of the citizenry, but beautiful bridges are not designed by committees. I'm sorry to see Miguel Rosales's bridge rejected.

Michael Davalt


brian, thanks for being the watchdog on projects like these. the po community needs someone like you who's willing to say "wait a second...."

i think, however, that this row about the bridge is a little overblown. honestly, the rosales bridge isn't all that great. and the other options aren't all that bad, though they are, as you have said, bland.

i don't know if i really believe that the bridge decision by trimet is coming strictly from a funding perspective. I believe a major part of it is that they don't want to try out new and untested designs in this financial and political climate. remember, they are currently cutting regular services, and politically it wouldnt look good to combine that with cost overuns on an a bridge that is perceived to be experimental... and that's a valid and realistic concern.


Ubiquitous: How many cable stay bridges are there in Oregon? How about in Washington?


Regarding the lack of detail views, I crossed the Sauvie Island Bridge over the weekend, and the huge tied-arch connections at the bottom of the cables on that bridge are horrible, but a good example of the type of detail to be avoided on this new project.

I found a nice image and reference here:



Do I understand correctly that the review committee made such an important decision with no more than the JPEG images of the alternatives that you posted a little while ago here? If so, I'm stunned. They lacked vital information they needed to make an informed decision. Differences in cost can be simply expressed in numbers. For design competitions good images are essential, allowing us to examine differences in size, proportion and significant details.

Off-the-shelf design is fine, I suppose, if we only aspire to be an off-the-shelf city. But what makes us most miss about our own places when we are away and makes us want to visit other places are those good things unique to here and there. Short-term savings for an average bridge, is horribly short-sighted. Frank Lloyd wright said something to the effect that a doctor can bury his [sic] failures, but all an architect can do is plant ivy. With a bridge, you cannot do even that.

And you made a terrific point about the tram, which went over budget but instantly became sculpture and tourist destination due to its beautify. Now that it's built, who would now prefer to substitute an erector set version that you can see on any mountain slope anywhere in the world?

Bad design

I think the framingof the discussion is all wrong. The choice was between a toyota carolla (generic cable stay), Toyota Camry (Refined cable stay) and a Hybrid Camry (Hybrid) options. Nothing proposed here was a luxury bridge and shame on anyone involved in the bridge process for characterizing it as such.


We should wait for the Mercedes and build the project in 2025 for $2.4 billion instead of $1.4 billion in a couple years.. transit is secondary to design.

Brian Libby

JR, this seems like a nice attempt at sarcasm. It shouldn't have to be one or the other when it comes to transit and design. And I bet you know this. Besides, TriMet is already budgeted for what the 'Mercedes' costs. They're just not willing to take the perceived 'risk' that having a more unique design entails.

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