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Bob R.

It should be noted that when a new bridge was built in Waldport (about 18 years ago), the new design echoed the forms of the beloved, prior bridge, rather than adhering to purely cost-driven utilitarian approach.


Bob R.

A sketch of the original 1936 Alsea Bay bridge:


I'm curious as to why there hasn't been the same amount of attention paid to the columbia river crossing? Everyone seems to be ignoring that one. Will it become a lost opportunity?

Double J

Nice work Brian, great points...

Can Portland really afford to demonize design when design is one of our major industries?

The characterization of Rosales designs as Seattle-esque is hilarious... it's not like he's Zaha Hadid. Because they dont have a proper architecture critic the O is both hurting itself and Oregon. I am happy they are at least attempting to push for better civic planning (aka design) from trimet.

I've got a new wrinkle on the supposedly refined cable stay design for tomorrow on PORT. It is another issue with the "V" design.

I'm glad Portland finally has a lot of voices from a lot of different sources making a ruckus about this. That's a huge development.

Still, I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with cable stays... only insensitively designed ones.


The cable-stayed design is beautiful and functional on what will be a one-of-kind bridge. Portland will revered because this will be a gorgeous transit/ped/bike bridge. How many of these exist in the world? Let's not loose sight of the bigger picture here!

Brian Libby


Your enthusiasm and contribution to the conversation is much appreciated. However, I at least think the big picture itself is precisely what we're talking about. Portland has an oppportunity to design something beautiful and unique, the Rosales hybrid, or to do a refined version of something too big, cumbersome and ubiquitous to work here. Oregon columnist Barry Johnson calls the cable-stay design from TriMet and Donald MacDonald "Godzilla on the Willamette", and I heartily recommend reading his column/blog post about the topic on his Portland Arts Watch blog via OregonLive.com.


Brian, you seem to argue that it must be unique...Does it have to be unique to be beautiful?
What does unique as an adjective get us, or guarantee the city? Perhaps marketing appeal, but I don't think that is the point. Perhaps the fight should be to get a beautiful and lasting design, no matter it's uniqueness. So to trimet I would say, pick whichever system you think will cost less, but you better make the damn thing beautiful.

I question the continued commentary on the possibility that trimet has been "cooking the books". Trimet may very well be cautious regarding an unknown quantity...but that is to be expected, as it is just that, an unknown quantity. And Rosales may be bitter that he didn't get a project he was expecting to get...

For me, great design is a must, and should be a given...but originality and uniqueness are not.


Agreed...uniqueness is not synonymous with beauty...I'd prefer a striking design rather than something unique for uniqueness' sake. A cable-stay bridge would be a great contrast to the other bridges in the city, and if done well, could be lovely.

Honestly, the one-of-a-kind "wave" bridge was the least inspiring of all the options I've seen (IMHO). I liked the hybrid, while hoping at one point they would dress it up a bit (the dual-toothpick towers were a bit dull), but have always thought that the cable-stay could be a very striking addition to the area, if done well. I'd rather stay away from the "V" frame...it seems a bit...off to me.


I am no particular fan of cable-stayed bridges, however they are more efficient than suspension bridges, and as such are cheaper (and one could say more sustainable?).

Regarding the Hybrid or Wave, Unique Design = Risk Money. The only thing debatable about that is the amount to add to the cost plan. At this early stage in the process we could expect the number to be quite high with the expectation/hope to design out the risk over the course of design development.

The continuing comments of 'cooking the books' attributed to the Rosales / Schlaich Bergermann team just sound of sour grapes. Has there been any independent, professional cost advice to support this?

It was touched on by Van above, but I am left with the feeling that the CRC will be far worse that the most unrefined, off the shelf cable-stayed bridge we might get on the Willamette.


"Crowds stand around all day long and criticize that bridge, and find fault with it, and tell with unlimited frankness how it ought to have been planned, and how they would have built it had the city granted them the $14,000 it cost. It is really refreshing to hang around these and listen to them. A foreigner would come to the conclusion that all America was composed of inspired professional bridge builders."
- Mark Twain, "The Broadway Bridge," Alta California, June 23, 1867


It was helpful to be able to see in the Oregonian Dylan Rivera story today, bigger pictures of the cable stay-V tower bridge and the smaller suspension bridge, than we've been able to see on this blog. I've never been keen on the cable stay-V tower bridge. After seeing the pics in the O today, I'm certain I don't like it.

Those severe angles in its tower and cables are just awful. I can't tell for sure in the pics...does the smaller suspension bridge also use those sever angles with its cables? Maybe it's just old fashioned to say so, but the arc of the supporting cable in the St John's Bridge Tribute design is the kind of beauty that Portland needs in its new bridge.

Brian Libby

Truth, Andrew, etc,

I don't mean to say TriMet has cooked the books or has done anything intentionally duplicitous. These are decent people trying to do the right thing. However, I think their conservative tendencies, while perhaps admirably responsible in a fiscal sense, are also contributing to more of a bridge by rote than I'd like to see.


One of the worst parts of the 'Soaring or Boring' stories was the poll, which forced a choice between:

"A) This city deserves something unique, so design something beautiful and truly original and figure out how to pay for it later.
B) We need to build the nicest bridge we can afford, but no more. So stay under budget."

It's a nonsensical poll that makes it seem irrational to desire a 'beautiful & truly original' design.


great discussion all ! , I am cool with the splayed V , it is a clear powerful expression of its design function. As I have said before though , Does it have to be white?
I would love to see a series of
renderings showing it red , blue,
St Johns Green ....


hey all... do you know the answer to this:

it sounds like portland's chipping in 30mil, the feds 80mil, and trimet the rest. if the bridge costs 120mil or 150mil would trimet be on the hook for the 30mil difference? if so, they're really feeling 4x the cost for the design versus the true 20% increase in cost? if so i can see why they want a cheap bridge.

ps. i for 1 like the V

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