Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. Bring your bikes, too.
The new and greatly improved $227 million Sellwood Bridge is open in Portland, Oregon. The Slayden/Sundt Joint Venture team celebrated with the community at a grand opening for pedestrians this past weekend. Motorists were allowed to start using the bridge Tuesday.
The public had been using a detour bridge during the construction period, resulting in no more than 20 days of closures over four years. The JV’s contract with Multnomah County called for 30 days at most.
When the bridge opened in 1925, it was a welcome upgrade from a ferry service that shuttled passengers across the river. But the narrow two-lane bridge had fallen into disrepair and scored only a two out of 100 on a federal bridge sufficiency rating scale.
It was one of the more complex heavy civil jobs the company has undertaken with issues to be expected from an outdated bridge used by 30,000 vehicles every day in an earthquake-prone area all while sticking to a budget funded by taxpayers.
“The complexity, the bridge translation, procurement method and size of the project puts Sundt in the league of premier bridge builders in the country,” said Sundt Business Development Manager Cade Rowley.
While the public is traveling on the main bridge, more work has to be completed. The rest of the year’s schedule includes removing the temporary bridge structure used for the detour, getting rid of work bridges and associated piling in the river, constructing a pedestrian bridge and trolley line on the west side, as well as finishing Phase 2 of a condo project on the east side. That work involves reconstructing small garages, storage buildings and a parking lot under the new bridge.
Even the wrap-up work has its share of unique challenges. The team will cut the old bridge into four 400-foot-long pieces and float them to Schnitzer Steel 10 miles downriver. Pilings must be removed during the in-water work window of July 10 to Oct. 15 so salmon swimming through the Willamette River won’t be disturbed.
To get a sense of the project scope, please take about four minutes to watch a time-lapse video recently posted by Multnomah County.