PMLR Bridge

PMLR Bridge towards downtown

The Portland Milwaukie Light Rail project will create many changes in Portland, but the most visible and exciting is the addition of a new bridge across the Willamette River. Notably, this will be Portland’s first bridge across the Willamette that excludes cars. The bridge is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in September 2015 for light rail transit, cyclists and pedestrians.

The map below shows the river crossing in the context of the 7.3 mile light rail line that will begin at SE Park Avenue in Milwaukie and connect to existing MAX lines in the Portland city center:


If you are curious to learn more about the route of the new MAX track, Trimet has a video flyby here.


I was lucky enough to get to tag along on a tour of the bridge with Portland members of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS). We were led through the construction site, right up next to the nearly completed pylons. Highly informed discussion ensued, with lots of intelligent questions regarding how the process of construction is being conducted. I was very glad to hear that the official name of the bridge will most definitely not be the “PMLR Bridge” but something much more attractive, possibly as a memorial.

After the tour, my goal was to model the PMLR Bridge before it was complete in order to visualize what it will look like within the city. What did I learn? If you are going to try and model a bridge before it is complete, take detailed and specific pictures of the structure that is already built! I ended up relying heavily on a pdf that Trimet released which included general dimensions of the bridge, and some architectural renderings. My tour of the bridge made me confident that the plan they released was going to be accurate to the finished product. After quite a bit of work and lots of tweaking, I ended up with a model that I was happy with. The model is accurate to the released plans and similar to the architectural renderings, but with simpler geometry for quick rendering in Google Earth:

Cody Burchfield was an intern at Fat Pencil Studio in 2013.