Experts say this is just the latest of many safety issues on a bridge that thousands cross every day.
“We’ve always got a lot of safety issues with this bridge,” said Don Hamilton of the Oregon Department of Transportation. “This is just one of the issues going on with the Interstate Bridge.”
Portland bridges are falling apart according to transportation experts, who say nearly 300 feet of cable came crashing down on the southbound span of the Interstate Bridge just after 3:30 p.m.
“This was 275 feet of cable that connects the two towers,” Hamilton said. “Two inches thick. That’s a lot of very, very heavy cable that fell onto the southbound sidewalk basically.”
Hamilton says no injuries were reported and crews were able to successfully remove the cable and repair the damage in roughly 30 minutes following a brief bridge lift. While transportation teams are still working to determine what caused the cable to come down, Hamilton says they do not believe it was weather related.
“The southbound span opened 64 years ago,” said Hamilton. “This is not a new bridge; it is always needing upgrades. This is why there is a bridge replacement process underway right now.”
According to Hamilton frequent closures, repairs, and an active joint problem have created regular hazards and delays for commuters.
Plans to build a new bridge over the Columbia River received a boost last summer, with Portland and Vancouver city council signing off on the Interstate Bridge replacement program.
“The Interstate Bridge is a vital link connecting the region,” said Program Director Greg Johnson. “Replacing the aging Interstate Bridge with a modern, seismically resilient, multimodal structure that provides improved mobility for people, goods and services is a high priority for both states.”
Last month that program was awarded a $1 million planning grant to conduct studies that mitigate the effects of earthquakes, boost development and analyze risk reduction.
While it will take a lot more time (and funding) before the project comes to fruition, this bi-state program is taking steps to hopefully bridge the gap.