“The project is going well and we are making good progress,” was the concise summary Multnomah County Sellwood Bridge program manager Ian Cannon had for THE BEE at the S.E. Tacoma Street construction office complex.

“We are maximizing the use of our in-water work window,” Cannon added. “We recognize that the project creates some inconvenience for folks. We appreciate the patience that people have shown us, and we are doing our best to minimize the inconvenience.”

In August crews worked diligently, wiring together rebar cylinders and walls. And, as part of the month’s work, there were three day-long concrete “continuous pours” – two for pier columns, and one for the southern half of the eastern bridge abutment.

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Pipe workers are guiding the delivery from a pump truck of concrete to the south side of the east side abutment for the new Sellwood Bridge. Two at a time, a total of 60 concrete delivery trucks fed a huge pumping unit that fed the mixture up a long boom, and down into the rebar-lined forms during each pour. Traffic on busy Tacoma Street, already a challenge because of the road work at the west end of the bridge on Highway 43, was further hampered by equipment near the street during these pours.

The eastern abutment – the hillside where the south side of the bridge will land in Sellwood – required about 250 square yards of concrete to fill the form, estimated Slayden Sundt Joint Venture General Structure Superintendent Josh Smith.

“The abutment is 28 feet tall, 45 feet wide. It’s a battered slope; that is. It’s 7 feet thick at the bottom and 3'6” wide at the top.”

All of the concrete has to be just right, Smith told THE BEE. “They are testing the loads, and rejected two of them while pouring the abutment. The concrete must meet specifications. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the concrete plant. If a truck gets stuck in traffic and the concrete ends up being in the hopper too long – it can spoil a load of concrete.”

On one of the visits to the site, project spokesman Mike Pullen remarked that engineers have come up with a solution to the shaft drilling problem reported on in the August BEE. “They’ve redesigned the face of the cutter of the oscillation-drilling machine.”

Pullen pointed out the demise of “Bent 17”, the concrete pier that had stood for decades just onshore, supporting the east end of the old Sellwood Bridge.

“Because this demolition work is not in the water,” Pullen said, “it's done by what they call ‘processing’ – that is, using a big hydraulic shear and claw to break up the concrete into pieces.”

Traffic Alert for September

After Labor Day, Pullen said, the ramp from the Sellwood Bridge westbound clockwise around under the bridge to Highway 43 southbound, will permanently close. “There’s just not enough room to keep it open, while the new interchange is being rebuilt.”

Drivers from Sellwood wanting to go toward Lake Oswego might want to use a different bridge, he said. Nonetheless, there will be a way to do it from the Sellwood Bridge: Turn north onto Highway 43, go a short distance up to S.W. Taylor’s Ferry Road, and then use the new U-Turn area they’ve just paved to turn around and head south on Highway 43.

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