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Simulation shows major earthquake destroying Burnside Bridge

This image from a simulation released by Multnomah County shows what the Burnside Bridge will look like after a major earthquake. (Multnomah County)

The simulation is terrifying.

The four minute 48 second video released by Multnomah County Friday shows what is expected to happen to the Burnside Bridge when the next Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake off the coast strikes the region.

Shaking from the magnitude 8-plus earthquake will last for several minutes, scientists say, and will cripple Portland’s infrastructure.

During the earthquake, the Burnside Bridge will buckle and collapse, bridge engineers say. The locks that hold its drawbridge together will fail and will swing freely, eventually crashing into the Willamette River, blocking river traffic. The bridge will also crash down on Naito Parkway, Waterfront Park, interstates 5 and 84 as well as railroad tracks owned by Union Pacific.

Watch the simulation:

The county released the video as part of its Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project. The county’s goal is to create a Burnside Bridge that can withstand a major quake. The county selected the bridge for seismic upgrades because it wants to keep the major route that connects east and west Portland connected after a major earthquake, allowing emergency responders to help victims of the disaster.

“I understand that seeing images of the potential effects of a major earthquake can be overwhelming.” said Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson in the video. “The goal of our project is to prevent this type of destruction. We need to create a strong river crossing that can withstand a major earthquake.”

With that in mind, the county is seeking public input this summer about the project.

One way to provide feedback to the county is to take its online survey here.

The county also encourages residents to visit its website to find out more ways they can get involved.

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