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Sellwood Bridge
January 18, 2013 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow, January 19, you can watch as the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, OR is moved 33-66 feet to the north in order to allow a new bridge to be built in its place, while still allowing traffic to move over that part of the Willamette River while the construction is taking place.
posted by curious nu (30 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why do I not remember this bridge from when I lived in Portland? I lived there after 1925, so it was there when I was.
posted by item at 3:34 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I imagine this thread gets more interesting tomorrow. :)
posted by mazola at 3:40 PM on January 18, 2013


Item, the Sellwood Bridge is south of downtown, so not as well known or as well traveled as the many bridges in the downtown area. Having said that, I currently live in the Portland area and had no idea this was happening. Maybe I'll take the kids to go watch it in person. Thanks for the heads up.
posted by hooha at 3:40 PM on January 18, 2013


I think it's the farthest-south car bridge in portland, so you don't cross it much unless you live or work in one of the bridge's endpoints. Like the St John's bridge in the north.
posted by mrnutty at 3:40 PM on January 18, 2013


I used to tease the civil engineers I knew in college that their work was exactly as interesting as watching concrete set, because that's all they did.

Then they get to move bridges.

They get the last laugh.
posted by Fraxas at 3:44 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


There isn't really any alternative for crossing the river near there.

I suppose they could bring back Taylor's Ferry.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:02 PM on January 18, 2013


They don't know within ±50% how far they're going to move the bridge?

/checks popcorn supply
posted by jet_silver at 4:03 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are some things, like locomotives, that you can look at and see that it would be remarkably difficult, and require more force than you personally are capable of generating, to move them. Then there are things like bridges, which are so large that they're more part of the landscape. You don't even think about how you would move them–you just accept that they are where they are, and plan accordingly.

Or I guess the other option is you get a civil engineering degree and move whatever you want, wherever you want to move it.
posted by I've a Horse Outside at 4:08 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Over half a decade ago the bridge was rated a “2″ on a federal sufficiency scale of “100″. I'm curious as to what (if any) impact moving the bridge will have on its structural integrity (or whatever it is that remains of it, that is). I went to college out in Portland and used to cross the bridge almost daily. Reading this triggered a flood of nostalgia for both the bridge, and the city, and the super-adorable neighborhood that is Sellwood.
posted by TheCavorter at 4:08 PM on January 18, 2013


Given the structural problems with this bridge (a sufficiency score of 2 on a scale from 0 to 100), I fully expect this to fall down the minute it moves. Glad to be wrong, though.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:09 PM on January 18, 2013


Yeah, seriously: 33-66 feet? They don't even know how far they're moving it? Can someone explain this?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:27 PM on January 18, 2013


Oh, here it is:

Due to the necessary locations of the temporary east and west approaches to the detour bridge, the final location of the truss after its move will be at a “skew” to its present alignment. The east end of the truss will be moved north about 33 feet and the west end will be moved north about 66 feet. This means that the truss will travel along a curved path as it is translated.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:28 PM on January 18, 2013


Over half a decade ago the bridge was rated a “2″ on a federal sufficiency scale of “100″

I was always told that this was not due to the actual construction of the bridge, but how the hillsides supporting the bridge are shifting and not supporting it sufficiently?

This is total hearsay, so I'm not entirely sure if this is correct.

Shit's going to be awesome though. I can't believe that PDX is getting two new bridges in just as many years! Exciting!
posted by furnace.heart at 4:29 PM on January 18, 2013


Yeah, seriously: 33-66 feet? They don't even know how far they're moving it? Can someone explain this?

Check the last link in the post. One side will move 33 feet, the other 66 feet. Sounds scary.
posted by klausman at 4:34 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


where can we see renderings of the replacement bridge?
posted by beisny at 4:54 PM on January 18, 2013


So wait, why don't they leave the old bridge where it was and build the new bridge 33-to-66 feet to the north?

I mean, I'm sure there is a good reason, since people don't normally go shoving 3,400-ton objects around just for fun. But I can't figure out what the reason is, and now it's bugging me.
posted by and so but then, we at 5:14 PM on January 18, 2013


So wait, why don't they leave the old bridge where it was and build the new bridge 33-to-66 feet to the north?

Because the turns you'd have to build into the existing route to hit a bridge at the new location are disruptive to the traffic flow, but fine on a temporary basis? I'd imagine the slight slowdown to negotiate the turn could accumulate to a traffic jam if multiplied over many vehicles in a short amount of time.
posted by alphanerd at 5:56 PM on January 18, 2013


There isn't really any alternative for crossing the river near there.

The highway bridge at Powell is about 10 minutes to the north, via 99E, or less. Or at least that's how long it took when I lived there (first, almost in Sellwood proper; and later in Milwaukie). There isn't another alternative to the south for a good ways, and taking Powell would waste time if you were headed to Lake O or Tigard, or over the hills to Beaverton. Also the existing landing on the west side of the river already had tightly arranged ramps that tended to back up, I can see how a different permanent location would be worse to the point of being impractical given the highway merge there, and a rail line; plus a small marina and attached grounds.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:43 PM on January 18, 2013


It seems that the Google Satellite View already shows the temporary piers under construction.
posted by jamincan at 7:05 PM on January 18, 2013


It seems that the Google Satellite View already shows the temporary piers under construction.

Those not seeing the construction should zoom out a bit (to 200ft scale or higher). I wonder if any decision was made about the trolley line in working this out....

posted by snuffleupagus at 7:19 PM on January 18, 2013


I suppose they could bring back Taylor's Ferry.

Oh, how I wish the City of Lake Oswego had been named the City of Lake Sucker.

Thanks for the post. I haven't lived in PDX in years but having crossed the Sellwood many times, and knowing it was a dinosaur, it's good to see this happening at last, and in such an interesting way.
posted by wallabear at 7:53 PM on January 18, 2013


This will be interesting to watch. Since they rated the Sellwood a '2' I have refused to drive over the thing. I mean 2, out of 100? It's like the russian roulette of infrastructure.
posted by herda05 at 8:54 PM on January 18, 2013


The rating is not just structural soundness, but also fitness to purpose, e.g. capacity, clearances, and modes of traffic. I don't think you're supposed to read that as "about to collapse like a deck of cards in a stiff wind".

But I can't figure out what the reason is, and now it's bugging me.

Well, the described process seems to be an improvement over the complexity of building a replacement on the same footings. Apparently they can build temporary legs for the thing that will last a year or two and then be dismantled, so it isn't as much work that way.
posted by dhartung at 11:46 PM on January 18, 2013


Nice foggy morning to do this. How will they see where they're going?!?
posted by mazola at 9:15 AM on January 19, 2013


Due to the angle of the sun, the picture quality is best in the morning.

I can definitely see the fog extremely well. Thanks for the tip!

New Sellwood Bridge earthworks project aimed at halting ancient landslide that caused structural damage for decades

This provides some context. It appears that much of the problem isn't with the bridge itself but with the west approach, damaged over the years by a landslide -- which has its own roots in flooding of the river valley in prehistoric times -- moving as much as a quarter inch annually.
posted by dhartung at 9:32 AM on January 19, 2013


Hey, the fog is clearing up! I can see a bunch of workers walking around, so I'm looking forward to a time-lapse GIF of this by the end of the day.
posted by mathowie at 10:31 AM on January 19, 2013


This is my preferred commute route. I will be glad in two or three years when the new bridge is in place. In the mean time, I will be a little nervous, but will give the shoo fly a go.
posted by mimo at 6:02 PM on January 19, 2013


I don't see anything that says they moved it. No gifs or videos or nothing! I am dissapoint.
posted by deborah at 11:04 PM on January 19, 2013


The time lapse video from yesterday now shows about half the move. Apparently, they finished at 9pm last night.
posted by mimo at 7:42 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Update via OPB. Short video and radio report.
posted by curious nu at 3:57 PM on January 22, 2013


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