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Willamette Boulevard Bridge

Willamette Boulevard Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 30, 2018

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Willamette Boulevard Over Railroad (BNSF, Portsmouth Cut)
Portland: Multnomah County, Oregon: United States
Structure Type
Metal 8 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Deck Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1909 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: Ralph Modjeski

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
91 Feet (27.7 Meters)
Structure Length
340 Feet (103.6 Meters)
Roadway Width
40 Feet (12.19 Meters)
3 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This bridge is one of three similar, but not identical, riveted deck trusses along this section of roadway. The bridges carry highways over the BNSF railroad line. The railroad line is far below, making this an impressive high level bridge with its deck trusses supported by tall riveted steel bents.

The bridge is noted on the state level as one of the earliest rivet-connected highway bridges in all of Oregon. The bridge is also significant because it was designed by famous engineer Ralph Modjeski. Its actually somewhat unusual to see a bridge of this size associated with Modjeski who was usually called in for large monumental bridges. This is not a small bridge, but it is small compared to most bridges associated with Modjeski. Finally, the bridge is noted for its beautiful riveted ornamental railings, which feature an arched lattice design.

This bridge is owned by the railroad, and is not well-maintained. Railroad companies are not exactly known as historic preservation proponents, however it is hoped that a way can be found to rehabilitate and preserve this and the other similar bridges over this railroad line.

Information and Findings From Oregon's Historic Bridge Inventory


Ralph Modjeski


These bridges were all built by the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railroad as part of a 4.75 mile long complex of bridges, cuts and causeways between the Columbia River and the Willamette River. All three truss bridges use riveted connections, making them Oregons earliest extant uses of this technology in highway bridge construction. They are also 3 of the 4 remaining hanging deck trusses in the state. The pony girder span is also the earliest extant highway bridge of its type in Oregon, though the type was commonly used for railroad bridges throughout the early 20th century.

Character Defining Features

Decorative railing, Location, Structure types, Connections


Due to the private ownership, the alterations on the trusses have not been well documented, though there have certainly been members of all of the trusses replaced. The pony girder bridge was widened with additional steel girders in 1968, and had the deck and rails replaced in 1988.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photo Galleries and Videos: Willamette Boulevard Bridge

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