Old Sellwood Bridge's 'last remains' removed from river
Although the new Sellwood Bridge opened to motor traffic, bicycles, and pedestrians on February 29, 2016 – and was substantially completed in November of that year – contractors worked throughout the winter and spring of 2017 to remove its predecessor, demoted to being the "detour bridge", and to complete road work.
But, the 2017 official "in-water work window" closed before crews could remove the underwater "bents" (piers) in the Willamette River. That opportunity reopened this fall.
In October, Multnomah County hired Advanced American Construction of Portland to remove the last underwater river pier left from the old Sellwood Bridge.
"This is a company that specializes in marine construction," explained the project's spokesperson, Mike Pullen.
"During the main bridge project, the same contractor removed all of three other river piers from the old bridge; the pier for Bent 19, on the east side of the main channel, was more difficult to remove than the others, which were demolished down to the mud line – a few feet below the bottom of the river," Pullen told THE BEE.
What made Bent 19's underwater concrete pier difficult to remove, Pullen said, is that a number of timbers were attached to it. "The timbers interfered with workers using underwater concrete saws to cut the pier into manageable pieces," he said. "This fall they cut the huge concrete pier into about twelve large blocks, pulled them up on barges, and took them over to the company's work yard in Northwest Portland."
Why were timbers embedded in the concrete of this pier? "These were likely part of the cofferdam that was used to build the original river piers," Pullen replied.
With the last submerged pier gone, the river is now free from underwater navigation hazards, and the Sellwood Bridge project is finally complete.