PORTLAND – Saturday was moving day for the 87-year-old Sellwood Bridge with just a 66-foot trip to connect to a detour bridge while a new one is built.
Despite Saturday’s early morning fog, it was clear everything was in place for the big move of this 34-hundred-ton stretch of the Sellwood Bridge.
Tom Grant from Lake Oswego came out for this history making photo op. He and his wife have been following the bridge moves progress for over a year.
“It’s a huge endeavor to plan and make something as complex come off without a hitch,” Grant said.
“Where else are you going to see a bridge that big being moved,” Darci Smith of Lake Oswego said.
The 11-hundred-foot truss span must move in an exact straight line.
“We're using laser to keep it aligned. We're using GPS to check that and basically using tape measures,” said Ian Cannon with Multnomah County.
On the west side of the span, the move is 66 feet. On the east side, it’s about 33 feet.
On average the bridge moved about 3/4 of an inch a minute, finally docking with the detour bridge. The idea for a detour bridge came from the engineering company Omega Morgan out of Hillsboro. It will save up to $10 million on the $307-million-dollar project. Jamie Cop's husband Josh is the foreman.
“He’s actually on this first pier. He’s the one setting up all the track to get it to move. It’s been awesome,” Cop said.
The big move has become an event. A celebration started at the Oaks Pioneer Church up the street. That’s where neighbors are getting a quick lesson in engineering.
“Just put the old one to the side and put a new one in its place. Tear the old one down. It is as easy as that,” said Steve Clem of Eastmoreland.
Businesses that rely on bridge traffic to the Sellwood area say they can bridge the gap.
“We all think a week is a pretty short period of time so we can weather that,” said Tom Brown with the Sellwood/Westmoreland Business Alliance.
Drivers will be able to use the detour bridge next Thursday Jan 24 starting at 7 a.m. Construction on the new Sellwood Bridge begins this spring and will be finished in 2015.
KGW Business reporter Joe Smith contributed to this report.