PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland has officially opened a new unique bridge, one that highlights green traits the city is famous for: its bike friendliness, popular transit system and appeal to folks who like to walk.
The Tilikum Crossing over the Willamette River, which opened to the public on Saturday, carries light rail and streetcar trains, bicycles, pedestrians and buses — but no private vehicles are allowed. It serves TriMet's new MAX Orange Line from Portland to Milwaukie, which also opened Saturday.
The 1,720-foot bridge, which cost $134.6 million to build, is Portland's 12th across the Willamette and the first bridge built in the Portland area in more than 40 years.
The bridge's name links to Oregon's indigenous heritage. In the Native American language of Chinook Wawa, Tilikum means people, tribe and relatives. The full name of the bridge is Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People. The name Tilikum was unanimously selected from among 10,000 submissions by a bridge naming committee.
On Saturday morning, a procession of Native Americans in full regalia walked over Tilikum Crossing, leading the inaugural Orange Line train with local officials on board over the bridge. The procession was followed by a grand opening ceremony.
One of Tilikum Crossing's cool features is lights whose colors change depending on changes in the river below — based on seasons, and the height, speed and temperature of the water. A software program translates U.S. Geological Survey data to control the LED lights, which are displayed on the bridge's cables and towers.
The water temperature determines the base color; the river's speed controls the pace the colors change and move across the bridge, and the river's height determines a second color that moves vertically up and down the towers and cables.
The 7.3-mile Orange Line connects downtown Portland with neighborhoods on the east side of the river.