Sellwood Bridge Update- Steady and mostly quiet

aaaBridgeUpdateButtonIn response to many inquiries we’ve received, here’s the most important update we can give you…

 The bridge is safe!  It’s open!  Traffic is flowing!  Come on down!

Aside from that construction on the new bridge is continuing steadily and, for the most part, quietly.  The underground explosives breaking up rock along Highway 43 are the non-quiet part, but that’s planned to wrap up this week.  The big changes right now are taking part on the south side of the bridge where crews are building access platforms out from the shore to provide access to the bridge for construction.  The construction of these platforms mostly involves work from the shore or in the water, so traffic flow on the actual bridge isn’t impeded at all.RestOfNewsletter

Below you’ll find a couple pictures from recent construction, as well as the latest construction updates from Multnomah County.  Multnomah County maintains the definitive website on everything related to the Sellwood Bridge Replacement project,  Construction and closure alerts, archived information, and other resources are all available 24/7 for your convenience.  Their two constantly updated live webcams of the bridge cams are available here.  If you’re looking for something that’s not on the website, you can contact Mike Pullen (mike.j.pullen@multco.us503-209-4111) or visit



Construction staging on the southeast bank of the bridge



View of construction platforms from the northeast bank

 Sellwood Bridge Project- Field Work Update, March 29, 2013


Hwy. 43 Work: Late next week the traffic signal at Riverview Cemetery south of the bridge will be turned off while the contractor digs a trench across the highway to replace a culvert. (A Traffic Alert email will be sent out when the schedule is confirmed.) Flaggers will direct traffic during this work, which is expected to take place during the day. Highway users south of the bridge should expect delays during this work and consider alternate routes.

Day: The outside southbound lane of Hwy. 43 is closed from 7 am to 4 pm weekdays between SW Taylors Ferry Road and the bridge while the contractor excavates the hillside west of the highway.

For safety, we urge bridge users not to cut through the narrow residential streets in the Sellwood area to dodge commute traffic.

West Side Work

Retaining Walls – Excavation of the hillside west of the highway continues.  The contractor continues to test drill for rock south of the bridge.  Night blasting is expected to resume south of the bridge the week of April 7. After excavation, the contractor will start building retaining walls to hold back the slope.

Landslide Team Hits Milestone – The team installing mitigation to stop the landslide reached a major milestone this week: installation of the last shear pile rebar cage. Forty shear pile columns have been installed since August 2012.  The team had to install these massive structures underground without damaging the old bridge, the detour bridge, or impacting an active landslide.

Each steel cage is six feet in diameter and 75 – 96 feet long (see photo below).  Each cage weighed 38,000 – 56,000 pounds before being filled with concrete.  The team safely built and installed these giant structures in a very constrained work area without an accident or lost time injury.  Ground anchor cables and top caps still need to be installed over the next month, but the majority of the landslide work has been completed.

Although their work is buried underground and out of view, the landslide team deserves our thanks for protecting the detour bridge and the new bridge from the geologic forces that damaged the old bridge.

In coming months, work in this area will shift from stopping the landslide to constructing the work bridge from the west bank and digging foundations for the approach columns for the new bridge.

One of this week’s photos shows a sunrise from the landslide work zone.

East Side Work

Work Bridge – The east work bridge is taking shape, as our south web cam view shows.  Deck sections now stretch out into the river.  The east and west work bridges will be used as platforms to build the new bridge.

New Bridge – Preparation for drilling the deep shafts for new bridge foundations on the east side continues next week.  The shafts will be installed from east to west, starting with the one near the Springwater Trail.  The trail will remain open during the work.

River Work

Old River Pier Removal – A subcontractor is installing access in preparation for the removal of the concrete river piers of the old bridge this spring.  Most of the piers will be removed to make room for construction of the new bridge foundations.  The new bridge will only have two in-water piers, compared to five for the old bridge.

Construction Work Hours

Normal weekday work hours are 7 am to 6 pm.  No weekend or night work is scheduled next week.

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