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I don't know if such a contest exists, and I don't know how it would be judged if did exist, but I do believe that my state has perhaps the best collection of bridges in the country, perhaps the world. It is not too wild of an assumption, since bridges are needed where vast amounts of precipitation combine with a landscape shaped by wild geological events to make lots of hills and gorges, and Portland, Oregon is certainly one such place. The Vista Bridge crosses over a channel in the Tualatin Mountains (or West Hills to those less geologically inclined) that has, like almost all other natural streams in the mountains, been imprisoned underground. Now the pass through the mountain only contains US Highway 26, which is not particularly romantic.

But the bridge still is. It was built in 1926, and is of a traditional arched construction that looks the way bridges should look. It is interesting that bridges, as incredibly vital as they are, also manage to look so beautiful. It is not as if when we are standing on (or under) a few thousand tons of concrete tied into potentially slippery bedrock using only laws of mathematics and engineering that we can only guess and hope at that we are actually worrying about how pretty the whole thing looks, but that is indeed how it works out. And this particular bridge has a two-for-one deal: it should be experienced both over and under. Its arch, coming out of the hillsides covered with ivy, is especially dramatic since it is one of the last things seen before entering the Robertson Tunnel. It is also a nice bridge to cross over, especially since it is in the neighborhood of Washington Park, and stopping on one of the benches of the bridge to view downtown after a trip to the Rose Garden is pretty much the epitome of Portland romanticism.

As I said a bit above, bridges aren't actually built merely so people can have romantic strolls, and the bridge is also meant to carry traffic on Vista Avenue, which is a continuation of Northwest Twenty Third Avenue. Vista is not a seriously arterial street,since it leads mostly into the twisting residential streets of the upper class West Hills neighborhoods. However, the bridge still does have an important function of getting people to and from work, and it seems to be well on course in doing that, not suffering the pangs of aging like some Portland area bridges.

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