Tilikum Crossing, which will allow buses, bikes, walkers, and light rail but not private cars, will open in September.

Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland writes that for a few months now he's been "begging" the city's TriMet agency to let him tour Tilikum Crossing—the emerging 1,720-foot bridge that will allow buses, bikes, walkers, and light rail, but ban private cars. Last week officials relented and gave Maus and a colleague a private tour. The pictures he's posted (a few reused here with permission) show a fantastic multi-modal bridge in the making.

Jonathan Maus / Bike Portland
Jonathan Maus / Bike Portland
Jonathan Maus / Bike Portland

Some of Maus's insights:

  • The bridge feels mostly done, with "mostly small stuff" like handrail tweaks, electrical tests, and seismic joints (which probably falls into a "larger stuff" category) still to come.
  • Bike-only traffic signals that ease the transition from street to bridge, with embedded street sensors that detect the presence of a cyclist and change accordingly.
  • Physical separations between sidewalk paths and bike lanes in some sections, with clearly demarcated painted separations for bike and pedestrian travelers in others.
  • A rather steep incline—Maus reports it's typically just under 5 percent, "the ADA maximum"—that should, if nothing else, keep Portlandia fit.
  • Areas called "belvederes" designed for people to stop and chat.
  • A pleasant outdoor retail area near the joint Oregon State and Portland State University Life Sciences building, with "ample" bike parking and, obviously, a Starbucks.

More broadly, Maus marveled at the overall attractiveness of the bridge design, calling it "a sight to behold":

Another striking difference you’ll feel riding on the Tilikum is its modern aesthetic and bold design. All the other bridges we ride over feel like either antiques (Steel, St. Johns, Broadway) or boring and uninspiring concrete slabs (Burnside and Morrison). The Tilikum, by comparison, is captivating. The sharp-edged, brushed aluminum railings and steel cables, juxtaposed with the tubular white cables that stretch skyward are a sight to behold.

The full opening of Tilikum is scheduled to take place in September, when the 7.3-mile MAX light rail line begins service. (Pedestrians and cyclists can begin using it in August.) TriMet has already started to test light rail vehicles on the bridge, and in March it began the six-month bus driver training needed to manage all the bridge interactions. The bridge has also been selected as a route corridor for a BRT project under development.

We'll keep a close watch on Tilikum's continued development. If the images from Maus's private tour aren't enough to quench your thirst, check out this fantastic bridge-cam timelapse video that tracks the project all the way through the present. And here's a rendering of the final bridge:

A rendering of the Tilikum Crossing, designed by San Francisco's Donald McDonald. (HNTB)

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