by: DAVID F. ASHTON - On an east-side temporary bridge girder, workers prepare the main span for the 'big slide' in January.The Sellwood Bridge will close early on Thursday, Jan. 17, and a reconstructed span is scheduled to reopen by Thursday, Jan. 24, Multnomah County officials say.

The new truss span will be moved in a one-day operation on Saturday, Jan. 19, weather permitting. Highway 43 to the Ross Island Bridge to Highway 99E (McLoughlin Boulevard) will be the northern detour route. McLoughlin Boulevard to Interstate 205 (Abernethy Bridge at Oregon City and West Linn) is the southern detour route.

Clackamas County voters rejected in May 2011 a funding plan for the new bridge that would have required a $5 increase in their annual vehicle registration fees. Project proponents argued that about two-thirds of the trips over the bridge either start or end in Clackamas County, but many of these trips involve Multnomah County residents.

During the “big slide,” the bridge will be pushed sideways on rails by hydraulic jacks between the old piers and the new ones.

Mike Pullen, Multnomah County spokesman, said the county is working with contractors Slayden/Sundt on the final cost, and expects to sign a contract in January for the estimated $299 million project. Pullen said the final cost will not increase the 20-year duration that Multnomah County charges an increased annual vehicle registration fee of $19 to its residents.

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