Planning for the structure began in earnest in 1964 when it was designated as part of the East Portland Freeway (later renamed Veteran's Memorial Freeway), Interstate 205. Construction began in August 1977. In order to avoid disrupting river traffic, the bridge was built one segment at a time. The segments, weighing upwards of 200 tons, were cast 4 miles (6.4 km) downstream and barged into place. The bridge was opened on December 15, 1982. The finished project cost was $169.6 million: $155.7 million from Federal funds, $4 million from Washington state funds and $9.9 million from Oregon state funds. Three men died during its construction.
It is a twin structure with four lanes in each direction and a 9-foot (2.7 m) wide bicycle and pedestrian path in between. The bridge is 7,460 ft (2,270 m) long from the Washington side of the river to Government Island and another 3,120 ft (951 m) in length from Government Island to the Oregon side of the river. The main span, near the Washington side, is 600 ft (183 m) long with 144 ft (44 m) of vertical clearance at low river levels. The bridge was named for Glenn Jackson, the chairman of the Oregon State Highway Commission and later the Oregon Economic Development Commission. The average daily traffic during 2013 was 142,000 vehicles.
Under construction, looking east from the Columbia River around 1980-81