The Last Walk on the Sellwood Bridge
The Sellwood Bridge, Portland’s first “unmovable” bridge, will be moving for the first time since its opening December 15, 1925. That is not counting the west approach that has been moving because it is placed on an active slide. Its last day to carry vehicles and passengers is January 16, 2013. I take a walk on the bridge and photograph it while it rests in its original location.
On January 17, 2013, at 5:00 a.m. PST, the 87-year old bridge will close to vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. On January 19, the main truss span will begin moving to the temporary piers and take a new role as a detour bridge. The detour bridge should open on January 24, 2013, around 7:00 a.m. PST, if everything goes well. Construction on the new Sellwood Bridge will take place in the path of the old Sellwood Bridge’s alignment.
This bridge received a sufficiency rating of a 2 out of 100 (100 being the best). Pieces of concrete are falling from the span and concrete rails. I observe large cracks and even chunks of the concrete rail missing. The pedestrian sidewalk is narrow and inadequate for bicycles and wheelchair users, let alone the lamp posts make it worse. The maximum weight limit per vehicle is 10 tons.
Looking at the condition of the existing span and then visioning it on the temporary piers makes me nervous. This bridge is crumbling. It is also surprising that a bridge with such low sufficiency rating is going to be used as a detour bridge for motor traffic.