Oregon has honored an animated character from The Simpsons with a car-free bridge in Portland. Initially called Flanders Crossing, the bridge was officially renamed on Thursday as “Ned Flanders Crossing,” referring to the kindly neighbor to the Simpson family known for his optimism, faith, and generosity. The new name was unveiled by Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation, along with Travel Portland CEO Jeff Miller and Springfield, Oregon mayor Sean VanGordon.
Ned Flanders Crossing connects Northwest Flanders Street at 15th and 16th avenues. It will ultimately span from the West Hills down to the Willamette River. Measured at 24 feet wide and 200 feet tall, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge was originally named Flanders Crossing after George Flanders, a shipping tycoon and early resident of the city that would become known as Portland in 1849.
Opened in June, the bridge was built after decades of calls from residents for a pedestrian bridge across Interstate 405. The projected cost of the bridge was around $9.5 million. A $2.9 million ConnectOregon grant was contributed by the state with the rest mostly funded by fees from developers collected through transportation system development changes. It is designed to withstand up to a 9.0-magnitude earthquake. You can see some photos of the plaque and the bridge below.
Dubbing this bridge Ned Flanders Crossing is a bit of a full circle moment. The Simpsons creator Matt Groening grew up in Portland and named several characters after major street names in the city, including Lovejoy, Quimby, and Kearney. Also among them was Flanders, with Flanders Street inspiring Ned’s name on the animated series. It’s only fitting that the mustachioed neighbor would get a bridge named after him connecting the street he got his name from in the first place.
Voiced by Harry Shearer, whom the show almost lost several years back, Ned Flanders made his debut on The Simpsons in the series premiere in 1989. He is depicted as overly generous and forgiving, largely because of his faith, and is always willing to do what he can to help others. Ned is the owner of the Leftorium, a mall store specializing in products designed for left-handed people, and the father of two young boys, Rod and Todd. Both of Ned’s wives, Maude Flanders and Edna Krabappel, have both passed away on the series, making the character a two-time widower.
The Simpsons was originally developed as a series of animated shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show in the 1980s before spinning off into its own half-hour program. Premiering in 1989, the cartoon has since aired more than 700 episodes, making it by far the longest-running American animated series. During that time, the show has managed to predict the future on occasion. There’s plenty more of The Simpsons yet to come as Fox gave the show another two-season renewal earlier this year. This guarantees 34 seasons and at least 750 overall episodes. There have also been talks at Disney+ for a sequel to The Simpsons Movie.
Season 33 of The Simpsons will premiere later this month on Sept. 26 on Fox. The first 31 seasons are all currently streaming on Disney+, sans the infamous Michael Jackson episode from the third season. Season 32 will hit the streaming service on Sept. 29, days after the premiere of the next season on Fox. Meanwhile, Disney+ has also been developing specials for the streamer, including a Star Wars crossover special that was released on May the 4th. This news comes to us from Oregon Live.