South Waterfront is officially breaking ground on a big new project today: A 700-foot bike and pedestrian bridge connecting South Waterfront and Lair Hill over the I-5 freeway.
Unlike the bike and pedestrian bridges that cross I-5 throughout North Portland (can I just take a moment to note the irony of the Failing Pedestrian Bridge?), the Gibbs Street Bridge will be good looking. Here's a rendering from the project web site:
Here is a video of what the bridge would look like if you were a human who could fly:
The bridge is undeniably an important link over I-5. Currently, the freeway maroons South Waterfront from the surrounding neighborhoods and cuts off Lair Hill from the water. The city projects that 3,000-4,000 people will walk and bike across the bridge daily by 2035. It's just the sort of connection for South Waterfront to get exactly what it needs to become an actual neighborhood—more people.
And then, of course, there's the pricetag. The 700-foot bridge is being built to the tune of $12.6 million (that's $18,000 per foot), with the vast majority ($10 million) coming from the federal government. The remainder is covered by a mix of city transportation dollars and the urban renewal fund. The construction was delayed for about a year after early bids for building the bridge made it clear that the project would be much more expensive than the $7 million the city projected. Just the cost of trying to fix neighborhoods severed by freeways.