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August 10th, 2011 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Closed Bridge Conundrum

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

I was late to my restaurant job Saturday because the Hawthorne Bridge was closed for a private party. Really? The Fremont and Morrison bridges were closed, too. Can I close a bridge for, say, a pie-eating contest? Who do I call?

—Violet Crumble

There are two ways of looking at “Brunch on the Bridge,” the charity event that closed the Hawthorne Bridge last Saturday. (The others were closed for construction.) 

You could think of it as a quirky expression of the city’s individuality. Or you could call it indulging the whimsy of comfortable, middle-aged white people at the expense of plebes like you who actually work weekends. 

The event was part of the Portland Bridge Festival, whose planners believe there’s no better way to celebrate our city’s bridges than to shut one down. It’s sort of like celebrating the fact that you have a drivable car by pulling off all four tires and eating nachos out of them.

In answer to your question: Yes, you too can close a bridge, provided you apply, get the proper insurance, and convince the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners (and sometimes the city and, depending on river traffic, the Coast Guard) to agree to your pie party.

The county’s Mike Pullen says they do take the impact on traffic flow seriously: “Before the board vote, we notify every neighborhood and business association within one mile of the bridge about the request.”

Of course, those of us who would sooner eat Drano out of a dog’s anus than attend a neighborhood association meeting may still be taken by surprise, but hey, it’s only one day.

That said, you might want to allow extra time to get to work next Sunday morning—it’s Providence Bridge Pedal day, and they’re going to be closing a few bridges.

 
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