Sellwood Bridge Update- A Tour of the Impossible

RestOfNewsletteraaaBridgeUpdateButtonLast month the Sellwood Bridge moved from a frustrating dream to a fuzzy reality.  Although there’s still about 9 months of construction until it’s complete, the new Bridge is open and traffic is flowing smoothly.  The major work remaining is the West Side traffic lanes and the removal of the old bridge.  For the next several months our Updates will be slow and small, so on the heels of last month’s big opening we’ll bring you a story that we’ve been sitting on for a while… bridgecrane

You may have noticed the gigantic tower cranes standing by the bridge during the construction.  Those cranes are gone right now, but they’ll be back when the old bridge is being taken apart.  These cranes are a little bit of a sore point around the shop because our Sellwood Bridge reporter swears that cranes of this type are impossible.  He presents a strong case… without supports or cables they shouldn’t be able to stand up to begin with, but putting any load on the end of the long arm would immediately tip them over.  Wind would be a complete killer.  According to him they aren’t construction equipment at all, but secret NSA antennas that are constantly scanning our communications.  Don’t worry, we have him on medication.

Impossible or not, these gigantic machines are definitely amazing.  In an effort to calm our Bridge reporter, as well as to entertain you, we did some research on how these cranes are built, how they work, and what it’s like to spend a whole day 30 stories in the air in an 8’ glass box.  We’ve assembled some great videos for you to enjoy, but you know what?  We still can’t explain how the darn things stand up.

A 4-day crane erection in 4 minutes

Tower Crane Assembly with Climber Demo

The Moderne tower crane in Milwaukee

How to Operate a Tower Crane

The daily routine of a Federation Tower crane operator

A crane driver’s death defying commute

Dismantling the world’s largest tower crane

As always, 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.  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




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