Drivers frustrated by traffic impact of bridge work

The construction will last about 6 months

The Morrison Bridge in Portland. (KOIN)


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The emergency repair work on the Morrison Bridge is already causing a headache for commuters.

Four of the 6 lanes are closed, and drivers from the central east side can no longer get downtown using the Morrison Bridge. There is only access to I-5, meaning thousands of people trying to cross the river have to find alternate routes.

Bridge work overview

“It’s really bad out here during the weekday. Traffic is backed up way back there,” driver Margaret Lynch said.

Lynch works at a convenience store on the east side where people swap stories about the traffic backups. She estimates commuting times have increased by 15-20 minutes.

Multnomah County officials say around 50,000 people use the Morrison Bridge daily, but about 50% of that traffic is being diverted to other bridges and streets.

The county says the Hawthorne Bridge is taking on most of the diverted commuters and the remaining 20-25% is going to the Ross Island and Burnside Bridges.

“They are supposed to have fixed it the first time, and now they are fixing it again, how many times are we going to have this done?” delivery truck driver Gary Frisby said. “Over and over and over again, and it’s causing nothing but traffic snarls all over the place.”

Frisby makes deliveries Tuesday through Friday, and while he says he generally avoids the Morrison Bridge, but the construction still impacts him.

“It all depends on what side of the river you are on,” Frisby said. “Sometimes it’s 15 [minutes], sometimes it’s an hour, it all depends on what’s going on. It does make a mess though.”

The 6-month project will start with the Morrison Bridge and move on the Broadway Bridge. The Burnside Bridge is also getting work done, but no lanes there will be closed until fall 2017, when work on the other bridges is complete.