History in the making: Four finalists are announced in naming the new transit bridge

Transit Bridge

There were nearly 9,500 bridge name submissions to the bridge naming committee. We are very pleased so many people participated. Thank you!

Chet Orloff
Chet Orloff

I’d like to walk through how we came to select the four finalists’ names. During my 40+ year career, in Oregon history I have been involved with many similar ventures and I have to say, this was the most thorough and publicly inclusive and, therefore, the best.

First, the committee considers itself the “general public”—we live all over the region and together bring strong cultural, historical, academic, professional, and geographical experience and wisdom to the naming process. The ten of us represent the diversity of gender, age, geographic and cultural differences that characterize the tri-county region.

We met for the first time last September. We learned more about the bridge from TriMet staff and toured onsite to get a feeling for what the it will look like, its functions and what it may represent. We discussed our hopes and aspirations for the name. We live here like everyone else and like you, want a great name for a great bridge!

The committee reviewed other organizations’ naming criteria, debated what was most important to our region and finalized the selection considerations. Believe me, my 22 years on the Oregon Geographic Names Board came in handy!

  • Origin of name
  • Meaning of proposed name
  • Is it inspirational? If so, why?
  • Regional perspective
  • Does it reflect how bridge connects people? If so, how?
  • Historical significance (if any)
  • Biographical info (if commemorative)
  • Any special cultural meaning?
  • What will it mean 100 years from now?
  • Spelling
  • Pronunciation
  • Sound/ring/flow—does it “roll off your tongue?”

Other members of the public—everyone living here—were asked to help us, to use your imagination, historical research, creativity, cultural awareness, sensitivity, and to send us ideas that “might reflect local geography, Native American and more-recent history, area plants or animals, or other themes relating the symbolic nature of connecting the region.” In addition, we began with the directive that the name of the bridge “can evoke historical moments, remind us of names of noted community leaders, or suggest the beauty, wilderness and or wonder of the entire region.”

Committee members agreed that each of us must be fine with any name going forward being THE final name of the bridge. We also worked to unanimously agree on all names going forward. Unanimity for all final names was essential, we believed.

At the end of the day, committee members feel confident that this has been a thoughtful process, accomplished by thoughtful citizens—members of the tri-county community and of the committee. Our process was not a popularity contest. It was not about lobbying and who has the most clout. It was about selecting a bridge name that best reflects the region’s history, culture, and geography, and that holds the promise to connect and hopefully inspire us—not just now, but hundreds of years from now.

But it is not over, yet. Keep participating and tell us what you think of the four final proposed names. Thank you!

Learn about the final names and send us your comments!

Chet Orloff

Chet Orloff

Historian Chet Orloff has a tremendous knowledge of the history and culture of our region and state. He has served on the Oregon Geographic Names Board for 22 years. He is the Director Emeritus of the Oregon Historical Society. Chet also is an adjunct professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University and the University of Oregon, president and director, Museum of the City, and principal of consulting firm, Oregon History Works. He manages the Pamplin International Collection of Art and History. He serves as the chairperson of TriMet’s Bridge Naming Advisory Committee.

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