Funding issue clouds expected 2012 construction date

Multnomah County has awarded the contact to design the replacement Sellwood Bridge to a team led by T.Y. Lin International, a firm that has designed large bridge projects around the world.

T.Y. Lin is an internationally recognized engineering firm whose work includes the coming Willamette River bridge that will be part of TriMet's Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail line, the award-winning Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge near the Hoover Dam and the east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The Sellwood project will be led by engineers in the firm's Northwest offices, which includes senior engineer David Goodyear and project manager John Ferguson.

'We are a large firm that designs big bridges,' Ferguson told Multnomah County commissioners at a project briefing this week. 'It is rare that we in the Oregon operations get to design a project of this magnitude in our own backyard. We are very excited to be a part of a signature bridge project so close to home.'

The company was a consultant in the project's selection phase. It has designed many bridge types, including the deck arch style selected for the replacement Sellwood Bridge.

T.Y. Lin International will provide design services in partnership with Portland engineering firm CH2M Hill. CH2M Hill led the consultant team during the planning phase of the replacement Sellwood Bridge project.

Under a previous contract, the two firms worked with the county to identify $41 million in project savings. The new contract includes final design services for the bridge and the westside Highway 43 (Macadam Avenue) interchange, permitting assistance and public involvement support.

Small firms added to project

The estimated $290 million project is about 30 percent designed.

Fifteen percent of the design contract will go to 12 disadvantaged minority, women or emerging small businesses, a record for a Multnomah County project.

The T.Y. Lin/CH2M Hill team was selected from five design proposals based on experience, personnel, approach, sustainability and diversity.

'I'm very pleased we have a selected a talented design team that is already very experienced with this project,' said Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, whose district includes the bridge. 'We're also impressed that the team has already set such a high bar for involving disadvantaged local businesses in the project.'

Bridge construction is expected to begin in July 2012, pending a decision on construction phasing this year. The team of Slayden Construction Group/Sundt Construction has been selected to build the bridge.

Some funding up in the air

Portland, Multnomah County and the state have committed to helping fund the project. Clackamas County's share is up in the air after a $5-a-year motor vehicle registration fee was referred to the May 17 special election ballot. If voters approve the fee, the project will still be about $20 million short. The federal government has been asked to fill that gap.

If voters reject the fee, the shortfall will grow to around $40 million.

The Sellwood Bridge bridge needs to be replaced because of landslides at the east end that have undermined and cracked its foundations. The bridge is so weakened that TriMet buses and heavy trucks are prohibited from crossing it.

The bridge is the only crossing for a 12-mile stretch of the Willamette River between Portland and Oregon City. It is the busiest two-lane bridge in the state, with an average of 30,000 vehicles crossing it every day.

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