Last week, TriMet announced four finalists in their naming campaign for the new Caruthers street multi-modal bridge over the Willamette River. Over 9,000 entries were submitted. Overwhelmingly, the name ‘Working Kirk Reeves’ was chosen – some 850 times – in honor of the late legendary street performer of the same name. In typical dismissal of public opinion, TriMet refused to include the most popular suggestion among their four finalists.
Perhaps they worried naming the crossing after a man who succumbed to depression and chose to take his own life could potentially send a negatively inspirational message. Portland already has a poor track record when it comes to bridge-jumpers. If this connection is the reason TriMet decided to cancel a democratic naming process, we’ll likely never know, as their press statement fell short of acutely explaining the selection process. It would be truly disappointing if TriMet refused to honor this man’s memorable life purely for his choice to end it.