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Sellwood Bridge closes Thursday for bridge move

Multnomah County Press Release - January 16, 2013

A week-long closure of the Sellwood Bridge will begin on Thursday, January 17 at 5 a.m. to allow a contractor to slide the main river span north to set up a detour bridge. The bridge is scheduled to reopen by 7 a.m. on Thursday, January 24. The public will use the detour span from late January until the new Sellwood Bridge opens in 2015.

The posted westbound detour routes during the closure are:

  • Northbound: Hwy. 99E to Ross Island Bridge to Hwy. 43
  • Southbound: Hwy. 99E to Interstate 205 (Abernethy Bridge) to Hwy. 43

Eastbound routes are the reverse. Congestion is expected on the north detour route during weekday commute hours. Travelers should plan their alternate route in advance and expect longer trips during the closure, especially on weekdays. Bicyclists may prefer the Hawthorne Bridge for the northern detour. A portion of the westside trail near the bridge and both lanes of Highway 43 will be re-routed during the bridge closure but will remain open at all times.

On Saturday, January 19 the 1100-foot truss span will be moved north and attached to new river piers to set up the detour bridge. A system of hydraulic jacks will lift and push the span along steel beams. The move is expected to start by 8:30 a.m. and take 12 to 16 hours to complete. The movement will be too slow (less than one inch per minute) to detect visually. A time-lapse video of the move will be posted to the project website the day after the move. The public can monitor the bridge move in real time online on the project’s web camera at www.sellwoodbridge.org and track updates on Twitter @sellwoodbridge.

Moving the 6.8 million pound truss span north will create space for the new Sellwood Bridge to be built in the alignment of the old bridge. The detour bridge has several advantages compared to the original plan, which was to build the new bridge in two phases. The detour bridge approach:

  • Saves $5 to $10 million
  • Saves up to one year of construction time
  • Improves safety by separating traffic from bridge construction
  • Reduces environmental impacts (due to less in-water work)
  • Eliminates structural elements needed if bridge is built in two phases.

Multnomah County is the lead agency for the Sellwood Bridge project. Slayden-Sundt Joint Venture is the project’s construction manager/general contractor. Omega Morgan is the sub-contractor responsible for the bridge move. More information and drawings explaining the move are available on the Big Move page of the project website www.sellwoodbridge.org.

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