If you’ve ever wanted the opportunity to name a bridge, TriMet is giving you a chance.  TriMet started soliciting names for the transit bridge being built between South Waterfront and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry yesterday, and the name will be chosen and announced by the spring of 2014.

The name will be chosen by a nine-member panel of upstanding citizens.  The committee is chaired by Chet Orloff, a 22-year member of the Oregon Geographic Names Board.  Orloff is also director emeritus of the Oregon Historical Society.  “How we name our landscape helps define us and where we live.  It’s something people take very seriously,” says Orloff.

Everyone in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties is encouraged to submit names.  Orloff believes “the regional nature of the bridge also might serve as an inspiration,” according to The Portland Tribune.

The Portland City Council asked Orloff to propose a formal policy for involving the public in renaming streets following the dispute over changing 39th Avenue to Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard in 2009.  Twenty years before that, a petition drive was launched to prevent the council from renaming Union Avenue after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but a judge declared the measure illegal.

The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge Naming Committee will be acceping names until December 1.  Special consideration will be given to those who have made meaningful contributions to the history of the community, attributes and elements that are respective of the area, virtues that have broad appeal, historical significance, and geographic relevance.  The committee will announce the first selection of names in the winter of 2014, followed by a public comment period from January 16 through March 1, 2014.  The committee will then recommend the final names to TriMet in the spring of 2014, and the agency will make the final decision.

The bridge is just one part of a $1.49 billion Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project.  The line will be 7.3 miles long and will connect Portland State University in downtown Portland with inner Southeast Portland, Milwaukie, and northern Clackamas County.  It will include 10 new MAX stations and will carry up to an average of 25,500 weekday riders.

They plan to open the line September 12, 2015, and TriMet projects the bridge will carry 22,765 weekday riders by 2030.  It will be the first new bridge over the Willamette River in 40n years.  It will also be the first cable-stayed bridge in the region, and it will extend 1,720 feet over the Willamette River.  The bridge will carry transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians, but no private vehicles.  Emergency vehicles will have access to the bridge if necessary.

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