Are they repairing the new bridge already...? No, it's the finishing work from the original project!

DAVID F. ASHTON - Perched overhead on scaffolding, workers finish patching irregularities on the face of a Sellwood Bridge pier. When sharp-eyed neighbors noticed crews patching "bents" (concrete piers) below the new Sellwood Bridge in late September, questions arose about what they believed to be a completed project.

Asked why this new bridge needed these repairs, Multnomah County's long time bridge spokesperson, Mike Pullen explained.

"When concrete was poured for the tall river piers, there was not good consolidation of the concrete mix inside some parts of the form," Pullen told THE BEE. "This sometimes happens when concrete is poured inside a very tall form filled with steel rebar; so, the concrete did not fully mix along some edges of the form.

"After the forms were removed and time passed, we noticed that some areas of the outside surface of the pier were not in good condition. A thin layer of concrete in these surface areas was removed and replaced."

The structure of the piers was not impacted, Pullen assured us, but the county's bridge engineers wanted to make sure there is a good solid surface on the pier, so that water does not seep in over time.

While it might have looked as if workers were trying to break the bridge, workers on scaffolding were simply testing the concrete's surface of the pier by "sounding" – that is, striking it with a hammer – to locate any areas that were not of good quality, informed Pullen. These areas were chipped away, then patched with new concrete.

"Interestingly, the repairs were not 'warranty work', although it may seem that construction ended a while ago," Pullen remarked. "The contractor is still working through a long list of final work items, including these pier repairs.

"When this list of work is done, then the warranty period begins – covering repairs for anything that was not constructed correctly," Pullen concluded.

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