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Midnight lift hoists massive girders for MAX at Tacoma Street

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - A 58-ton girder is in position, and is being made ready to be lifted into place off the split vehicle that drove it here, up Highway 99-E from Harrisburg. Although parts of the Portland-Milwaukie MAX Light Rail project may have gotten more publicity than this, one of the most visually-spectacular construction feats occurred in the wee hours of Saturday morning, December 8th, near the Tacoma Street Overpass along McLoughlin Boulevard.

Powerful tractors, each pulling a 116,000-pound concrete girder affixed to forward and rear trucks, with 20 wheels per unit, ended a 100-mile trip from the Knife River Pre-Stress plant in Harrisburg up Highway 99-E (McLoughlin).

Throughout the night, one by one, mighty cranes turned to hoist the gigantic girders – up to 140 feet long, 7 feet tall, and 4 feet wide – up into place onto “bents”, the substructure unit that supports the spans.

“The structure has five spans with four girders each,” TriMet’s Mary Fetch told THE BEE.

“The span over the Tacoma-to-northbound-McLoughlin-ramp is 137 feet long. The clearance under the ramp girders is 18 to 20 feet. The entire structure, from abutment to abutment will be about 700 feet long,” she added.

Traffic was disrupted in different areas around the Tacoma Street Overpass for several days afterward, while workers assembled the soaring structure.