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TriMet unveils new name for Portland-Milwaukie light-rail bridge


The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) announced yesterday that its bridge naming committee has selected a name for the new Portland-Milwaukie light-rail bridge: "Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People."

The committee of 10 citizens spent the past eight months reviewing nearly 9,500 recommendations and thousands of public comments, TriMet officials said in a press release.

"The committee spent a tremendous amount of time and dedication to select a name that speaks to our past, our future and the importance of transit connecting our community," said General Manager Neil McFarlane.

Now under construction, the bridge is the first to be built over the Willamette River in Portland, Ore., in more than 40 years. It also will be the first cable-stayed bridge in the region, extending 1,720 feet over the river. Scheduled to open in 2015, the structure will be the first multi-modal bridge in the United States to carry light-rail and streetcar trains, buses, bikes and pedestrians, but no private vehicles.

The name has Native American roots. While the spelling "Tillicum" initially was proposed, the committee chose "Tilikum" because that is how the people who previously lived in the area spelled the word, said Chet Orloff, a historian and the bridge committee's chairman.

The word is Chinook Wawa, an international language first used by Oregonians and later spoken by explorers, fur traders, settlers and the first few generations of Portlanders. Tilikum means people, tribe and relatives.

"Tilikum symbolizes coming together," said Orloff. "It conveys connections, not only the relationships between people, but in the connections we will make as we ride, walk, run and cycle across this beautiful new bridge."

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More News from 4/17/2014