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Help select a preferred alternative for an earthquake-ready Burnside Bridge


If a major Cascadia zone earthquake happened today, none of Portland’s downtown bridges would be available to use for weeks, months or years. Multnomah County is working to solve that problem by ensuring that its Burnside Bridge is earthquake-ready. You can learn about our next major bridge construction project by visiting an online open house at through Aug. 31.

The open house has a short survey that seeks input on two major decisions: 

  • What is the best alternative for making the bridge earthquake-ready?

  • How should we manage traffic during the four to five years it will take to build a new bridge?

The project’s Community Task Force has recommended the Replacement Long Span option as the preferred alternative. Their recommendation includes:

  • A new bridge with a movable span in the middle, and long spans on each side, reducing the number of columns in unstable soils near the river bank.

  • Closing the bridge during construction, instead of building a $90 million temporary bridge that would include two traffic lanes, sidewalks and bike lanes. Building a temporary bridge would extend construction by 1.5 to 2 years. 

The open house includes animated videos explaining the alternatives and traffic management options. Another video provides a tour of the bridge and its neighborhood, which includes a world-famous skatepark.

Construction of an earthquake-ready Burnside Bridge could begin as soon as 2024. For more information, visit

Youth share powerful presentations, offer solutions to virtual room of criminal justice policymakers


One by one, members of Word is Bond, a nonprofit for youth ages 16 to 21, virtually introduced themselves to the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council on Aug. 10. They shared more than their names. They shared their mantras.

“I’m Ristom Habtemariam. My mantra is: ‘I am Eritrean. I am self-reliant. I am a radical thinker. I am always one step away from achieving whatever’s in front of me. I am Ristom.’”

“My name is Isaiah Carter. I’m 19 and I graduated from Reynolds High School. My mantra is: ‘I'm the oldest brother of three siblings. I am a role model for the next generation. I am determined to make a difference. I am never done. I am who I am, and you will not change me.’”

The youths who participate in Word is Bond repeat their mantras every day.

“They are affirmations that we feel define us and liberate us,” Habtemariam said.

Only on this day, they repeated them in front of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council’s Executive Committee — County and regional leaders charged with forging equitable, data-driven policy in the criminal justice system.

Word is Bond’s mission is to “rewrite the narrative about Black men through leadership development, critical dialogue and education.” And at the Aug. 10 meeting, where they presented their findings on ways to improve the justice system, they were joined by members of the Multnomah Youth Commission, as well as members of Youth Educating Police a youth-led organization aimed at “reducing animosity and systemic disconnect between law enforcement and young people.” [Read more]

Voter turnout for August 11 Special Runoff Election reaches 39 percent by 11:30 p.m. election night — serves as practice run for November

Voter turnout reached 39 percent as of 11:30 p.m. on Election Night (Tuesday, Aug. 11), as Multnomah County Elections saw a steady flow of voters in the final hours before the City of Portland’s Special Runoff Election.

While there are no official precedents to adequately compare the Special Runoff Election — occurring in the midst of a historic pandemic and less than three months from the November General Election — voter turnout was notable.

Overall, 440,413 registered voters from the City of Portland live in Multnomah County. (Both Clackamas and Washington Counties also include a small portion of Portland voters). As of 11:30 p.m., 172,340 cumulative ballots had been cast in Multnomah County — at 39.13 percent. For election results visit:

Voter turnout in the November 2019 Special Election — which included ballot measures but no candidate races — reached 33.21 percent by the time Election results were certified.

“As we near certification, 20 days after the election, we will have final turnout numbers,” said Elections Director Tim Scott, “and we’ll be able to see just how many voters participated in this election and whether they mailed their ballot or dropped it off at an Official Ballot Drop Box or library location.”  [Read more]

Meet Multnomah County's new District Attorney Mike Schmidt

During one of the most pivotal moments in modern American history, Multnomah County’s new district attorney, Mike Schmidt, takes office. Schmidt’s official term starts on Jan. 1, 2021, but Gov. Kate Brown appointed him to the job this summer so he could complete the term of our prior district attorney, Rod Underhill, who retired July 31. Schmidt takes office amid both a global pandemic and worldwide protests condemning systemic racism in the justice system that dates back to that system’s founding.

Schmidt’s resume includes stints as a public school teacher in Louisiana, a deputy district attorney for Multnomah County, counsel for Oregon’s House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and director of the state’s Criminal Justice Commission — which is charged with, among many tasks, reporting on racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. [Read more]

The ‘Puentes’ program: providing culturally specific rehabilitation services to Latinx community members struggling with substance use disorders

The path to recovery from addiction or mental health concerns is hard. For the Latinx community, linguistic and cultural barriers can make it even more of a challenge.

Ricardo Verdeguez left Cuba for the United States in 1994 on a handmade raft and was sent to Guantanamo Bay after being intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard. He was held in the prison for a year before being sent to Portland.

Though life in the United States was good, Verdeguez struggled with alcohol and drug addiction — a battle he fought for 30 years, until he found Puentes.

Puentes, developed by Central City Concern, is a culturally specific program serving Latinx community members with substance use disorder. The program also provides mental health treatment services.

Funded through Multnomah County Behavioral Health Division and Medicaid, Puentes helps break down many of the challenges of first-and second-generation clients, many of whom are not confident in their English. [Read more]

Longer-term plan for COVID-19 moves forward: Joint Office opens three new motel shelters to better protect high-risk guests

With time of the essence as cases increase in Multnomah County and Oregon, the Joint Office of Homeless Services is delivering on a promise to expand its use of motels to provide separation for people in shelters who are most likely to die or become seriously ill from COVID-19.

Last month, the Joint Office opened three new motel shelters, working with nonprofit partners to move in adults from throughout the adult shelter system who were assessed as having the highest-risk of COVID-19 complications.

That means there are now four “physical distancing motel shelters” operating in Multnomah County. The County also continues to provide “voluntary isolation” space at two additional motels, serving people who have COVID-19 symptoms or who need a place to quarantine while awaiting test results. [Read more]

Multnomah County
501 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97214

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