PORTLAND TriMet announced the four finalists in its bridge naming competition at press conference Wednesday.

A committee charged with sorting through nearly 9,500 name suggestions for the new Willamette River transit bridge said the finalists are:

  • Abigail Scott Duniway Transit Bridge
  • Cascadia Crossing Transit Bridge
  • Tillicum Crossing Transit Bridge, Bridge of the People
  • Wy'east Transit Bridge

The public can comment on the names until March 1. The committee expects to submit one or two names for TriMet to consider in April.

In a light-hearted ceremony at the Oregon Historical Society, officials stressed the importance of names in Oregon history.

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The name of the new transit bridge will change the Portland landscape, said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuck.

The legendary coin toss that decided if the city would be named after Portland, Maine or Boston Mass., was referred to several times. It was also noted that the state's name, Oregon, has obscure origins.

Historian Chet Orloff said he once thought that the name came from a cartographic typo.

Thousands of people really dug into Portland and Oregon history to come up with these, Orlof said. It's been a process of, an educational process, of really thinking of who we are.

The names in the suggestions, while not household words, have the following historical and cultural connections:

Abigail Scott Duniway: A turn of the century activist who fought for women's rights and children's causes.

Cascadia: A name used to refer to the greater Pacific Northwest, based off the Cascade Mountain Range, and popularized in a book about a fictional West Coast environmental separatist utopia.

Tillicum: Referencing a Native American term for 'common people.'

Wy'east: A Native American term for Mount Hood, suggested as a bridge name by Vernon Elementary third-grader Luke Hendrikson.

Orlof said that the selections were made based on consensus and that they represented names that we could all live with.

Orlof said the group would now listen to public reactions. A public town hall was scheduled at the Oregon Historical Societyon Feb. 3.

When completed in 2015, the $135 million bridge, now under construction south of the Marquam Bridge, will carry TriMet s new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Line, the Portland Streetcar, buses, pedestrians, bikes, but no private autos. It will be the nation's largest 'car-free' bridge.

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