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Big beams placed for SE 17th Ave ramp over Powell

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - The diesel engines of these two massive cranes come to life, as together they lift an 83-ton girder off the truck.Drivers who’ve been deprived of using the S.E. 17th Avenue overpass down to southbound Powell Boulevard can take heart! Reconstruction of this ramp – and its twin, the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project Powell overcrossing – is underway.

On the weekend of May 17, S.E. Powell Boulevard was closed to all vehicles and pedestrians till Sunday night, as workers installed nine pre-stressed concrete girders above the highway.

One by one, after traveling by truck 96 miles from where they were manufactured by Knife River Prestress in Harrisburg, the big girders arrived. When it was time to unload them, the drivers pulled up alongside existing railroad right-of-way, and backed the girders in across the bridge.

Then, two huge cranes lifted each girder – the five larger ones being about 157’ long, and weighing about 83 tons – and set it into place above the dip in the boulevard.

According to TriMet Community Affairs Representative Jennifer Koozer, even the four smaller girders were beefy. “Each of them weighed 157,000 lbs, were 149.5’ long, and were 6’ 10-5/8” high.”

All of the girders were installed earlier than projected. So, well before Monday morning’s rush hour began, on Sunday evening, the busy state highway was reopened to traffic.