Five Tips to Get Around the Month-Long Steel Bridge Closure

Jul 23, 2020

The Steel Bridge is closed to transit and autos August 2-29. Here’s what you need to know to help navigate the disruption.

Four MAX lines cross the Steel Bridge, along with bus lines 4, 8, 35, 44, and 77. The bridge is a critical point for our transit system, and the time has come to perform vital maintenance and make important upgrades to this 108-year-old bridge. 

With no traffic running across the upper deck of the bridge, crews will be able to replace rail, signal systems and other critical components, helping to decrease delays in the future.

We know that disruptions aren’t ideal, even when they are necessary. We’re working to create as smooth a transition as possible for all who cross the Willamette River on the Steel Bridge. Here are five tips to help you get around the disruption:

1. Knowing is half the battle

Knowledge is power when it comes to navigating a disruption, and we’re working hard to give you what you need to make the best possible travel decisions.

Go to to get details on how your MAX or bus line will be affected. We’ll be providing updates throughout the project, so follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and check before you ride.  

You can also help others know about the project. Share this information with your friends, family members, colleagues and others you know who may be affected.  

2. Be patient and plan some extra time

Planning ahead can save you frustration. Check out our Trip Planner in advance of the project to find out how the disruption will affect you, and how long your trip will likely take. Tip: When using the Trip Planner, you’ll want to set the date to sometime between August 2-29. 

We suggest most people will want to plan an extra 30-45 minutes, just to be on the safe side. Remember, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to limit the number of passengers on all our buses. That means space on board shuttle buses may be limited and wait times may be longer than usual.

We know that August will be inconvenient for many, but this project will make for more reliable trips for decades to come.

3. Connect with a shuttle bus

Like with previous improvements projects, shuttle buses will help you navigate the disruption. For this project, shuttles will be serving stops more frequently than in the past most of the day, with buses leaving every 2 to 5 minutes. Like our regular buses, they’ll be running with state-mandated passenger limits due to COVID-19.  We hope with buses coming so frequently, that you won’t have to wait long.

Shuttle buses will run from Rose Quarter Transit Center, on the east side of the river and Union Station/NW 5th & Glisan and Old Town/Chinatown stations on the west side. The buses serving these stops will have hand sanitizer and disposable mask dispensers on board (we ask that you bring your own face covering if you have the means to do so). Remember, face coverings are required when riding MAX and buses. 

From Rose Quarter, shuttle buses will run in a counter-clockwise direction and cross the Broadway Bridge, connecting with the temporary stops near Union Station and Old Town/Chinatown, before heading east across the Burnside Bridge and back to Rose Quarter.

4. Beat the disruption with some exercise

If you are able, you could use the Steel Bridge MAX Improvements project as an opportunity to get some exercise by biking or walking across the lower deck, which will remain open. That’s also a good way of soaking in some summer rays and staying physically distanced from others. In some cases, walking might be the fastest option.

It typically takes less than 15 minutes to walk between Rose Quarter and Old Town/Chinatown MAX stations. Follow the signs to the pedestrian/bike route on the lower deck of Steel Bridge. Stay on the marked path as it’s the fastest and safest route. 

5. Stay distanced, covered and safe

We ask all riders wear a face covering while on board vehicles or when waiting for shuttle buses. Riders will be directed to space out at train stations and shuttle bus stops for physical distancing. Look for sidewalk decals promoting physical distancing and designating where to wait. 

Our Customer Service representatives and Ride Guide staff will be available and have additional disposable masks for riders who don’t have access to them directly. They will also be on hand to answer questions you may have. 

While the Steel Bridge MAX Improvements project focuses on less than a half-mile stretch of our 60-mile light rail system, this section is crossed by 623 trains each day. We’ll be working around the clock to essentially replace the light rail system across the bridge in just four weeks, so we can help minimize the inconvenience caused by this project. 


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