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New eastern approach to Sellwood Bridge takes shape

The approach to the new Sellwood Bridge is beginning to emerge. For the first time, it’s clear just where the east-side onramp will depart Tacoma Street heading out over the Willamette River.

Visiting the construction site in mid-February, THE BEE learned that the massive East Bank Abutment concrete pour reported in the February issue – composed of 1,800 yards of concrete – was successful.

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Workers on scaffolding feed a vibrating snake down into the form to work out air bubbles, as concrete is pumped into the structure. On February 13, Transportation Project Specialist Mark Knieriem pointed out that they’d already installed the rebar and assembled two concrete forms atop the abutment, preparing for yet another concrete pour.

“Today’s pour is the two columns for ‘Bent 6’,” Knieriem said. “Each column is about 75 yards of concrete, making it a 150-yard project. After these columns have cured, they’ll put in a cross-beam between them.”

Multnomah County’s Sellwood Bridge spokesman, Mike Pullen, observed, “With all of the vertical columns in place, crews can begin installing the horizontal girders, on which the roadbed sits. We expect they will start laying down the horizontal girders in March.”

Although the “detour bridge” was scheduled to be completely closed for nearly a week starting February 15, Pullen told THE BEE said the County was pleased it could be reopened two days earlier than scheduled, on the morning of Tuesday, February 18.

“Crews worked around the clock, driving steel soldier piles across traffic lanes on the west end of the bridge, which will support the walls of the two-level interchange where the bridge connects with Highway 43,” explained Pullen.

Pullen also said there will be likely be brief bridge closures in March – perhaps an hour or so at a time – when trucks bring in and begin placing the horizontal girders across the columns on the east side of the project.