Morrison Bridge to close March 1; trial continues

Morrison Bridge will close for one day at 7 a.m. Sunday

The Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland, January 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
The Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland, January 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A trial over what one county official called “our most serious bridge problem” continues in Portland to determine who is to blame for those problems.

The entire Morrison Bridge will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Sunday, March 1, so crews can look at the entire lift span deck. More full closures may be coming in the future, too, Multnomah County spokesperson Mike Pullen said.

The bridge is safe to drive on, he said, with a qualifier. “In the lanes that are open it is safe to drive. I qualify that answer because the two lanes that are closed have problems with them.”

“I’d say it’s our most serious bridge problem we have today,” Pullen told KOIN 6 News Monday.

A westbound lane has been closed for repairs for about a month, and now another lane was closed due to cracks in its deck panels.

Video provided by Multnomah County shows considerable cracks in the Morrison Bridge deck. January 26, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Video provided by Multnomah County shows considerable cracks in the Morrison Bridge deck. January 26, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

“We found cracks in the eastbound lane so the southernmost lane of the bridge on the liftspan is now closed,” Pullen said. “And that’s where we’re shifting our attention to repair the panels under that lane.”

Traffic cones, delays and closures are common sights on the Morrison Bridge since the decking began cracking and deteriorating almost immediately after the repair was completed in 2012.

Commuters have been dealing with frustrations associated with the Morrison Bridge for weeks, and for three years, the county has been talking about the problem.

“We’re basically just putting band-aids on it until the litigation is resolved and we have a design and funding to completely replace the deck that was installed about three years ago,” Multnomah County spokesperson Mike Pullen previously said.

In a court battle that began Feb. 17, contractor Zellcomp revealed it doesn’t want a jury to see 53 pieces of evidence related to the bridge. According to Zellcomp, the exhibits are hearsay — they said they are both irrelevant and unduly prejudicial.

But KOIN 6 News learned the county said some of the evidence shows the contractors moved the project forward, despite having concerns.

The trial over the bridge problems continues.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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