Category Archives: Spanning the Bridges

Trolley bridge over the Clackamas is now gone.

This bridge, over the Clackamas  River, and owned now by Union Pacific, had seen better days.
The bridge is an abandoned remnant of a trolley line that connected Oregon City and Portland It stood for more than 100 years but had not been used since the 1950s.
There were hopes that it could have been restored and used as part of the trolley trail from Gladstone to Milwaukie
SP bridge over the Clackamas river in early summer

The steel truss bridge was part of a regional trolley line that was constructed in the early 1890s through Southeast Portland, Sellwood and into Oregon City. The bridge was likely built in the 1900s, but by the 1940s weight restrictions were imposed on the structure. In 1968, the Portland Traction Co. ran its last trains from Golf Junction in Sellwood to the Oregon City paper mill. That section of the trolley track was abandoned, along with the old bridge.
The line was purchased by Southern Pacific Railroad, which merged with Union Pacific in 1996.
Also known as the Portland Avenue Historic Trolley Bridge it was located on the Clackamas River between the cities of Gladstone and Oregon City.  The river  has eaten away at the footings of the 290 foot long, and 18 foot wide structure. With a history of neglect, the bridge was pulled down, before it fell down.

SP bridge over the Clackamas river in early summer
Heavy equipment yarded it up on to the bank where it was torn apart section by section, and hauled away.
SP Bridge over Clackamas is nearly broken down and hauled away
All trace of the bridge, and its 1,000 tons of iron, steel, and concrete are now gone.

December ride past the bridges

Each day, on my ride to work I can check on the progress of the new portland bridges.

The two on the willamette are the Tri-Met light rail and the Sellwood replacement bridge.

In just a few weeks, the old Sellwood bridge is going to  pushed 30-60 feet north, onto a temporary set of pillars, so that the new one can be built pretty much where the old one is now. In that way, traffic will be disrupted for just a week or so.

This will be fun to see.

Temporary piers for the old bridge

TriMet Milwaukie Light Rail 12/12/12

Oregon City Bridge on Christmas Eve

Before all the Christmas festivities began, there was time, and sun, and the opportunity to get on the bike. So I decided to ride out over the bridge to take a closer look at some of the issues before work began. The planned January closing date has been pushed back to allow time for more study, but I was also anxious to see the progress made to the walkway along the river in Oregon City.

Most all the walkway railings are cracked.

Oregon City Bridge

Oregon City Bridge

In many places the concrete is just gone.

Oregon City Bridge

There is cabling stretched around some of the pillars.

Oregon City Bridge

All the pillars and arches have cracks in the concrete.
This is actually just the covering over the underlying steel, so it may not be as dangerous as it first appears, but still…..

Oregon City Bridge

The bridge is tired, worn and dirty but it remains a visually pleasing structure.

Oregon City Bridge

Oregon City Bridge

Oregon City Bridge
On closer look you can see that work to gain access has begun underneath.

Oregon City Bridge

Rebuilding of the Wimer Covered Bridge

wimer covered bridge

Originally built in 1892, the Wimer Covered Bridge was replaced in 1927. That one collapsed July 6, 2003. Investigators determined the bridge failed because of rotting timbers and from vehicles crossing the span that exceeded the six-ton limit.

The new $1.6 million bridge has the look of the original, but with some modern improvements. It is designed to support 10-ton loads, with occasional use by emergency vehicles in excess of that amount.

Citizens for the Rebuilding of the Wimer Covered Bridge


Map for Wimer, Oregon

Wheres the old Sauvie Island Bridge

Flew over Sauvie Island last week. The old Sauvie Island bridge is apparently completely gone, with no sign that it ever existed.
So, where did it go?

Last year there was a big push to move it to Portland to span I-405.  That dream sagged under the pressure of those who thought the money was better spent elsewhere, or were just not forward thinking individuals.  Now with Sam’s dwindling  power to push through any project that might be objectionable, its easy to understand that this project was not going to happen.

Still, the old bridge went somewhere…………….

Sauvie Island Bridge by Air

I-5 Bridge design proposals include wind turbines

New designs have been released for the I-5 bridge, to include wind turbines that could be used to supply the power needs of the bridge itself. Thats a cool idea in theory. I hope its not a cost & maintenance nightmare in reality.  What I do like is the idea of a toll to use the bridge.  Washington residents should pay for the priviledge of using the jobs and resources of our state so that they can pay less for property taxes.

From the Associated Press:
PORTLAND — A new green design proposal for the Interstate-5 Bridge has generated a lot of buzz.
Details on turbine bridge proposal

Florida architectural firm Touchstone Architecture unveiled a bridge design with vertical, spinning wind turbines. The firm said this bridge would showcase this region’s leadership in sustainability.
The goal was to take advantage of the wind coming through the Columbia River Gorge and help ease traffic on the I-5 bridge.
What was unclear was how much electricity could be generated and what it would be used for. There was talk of possibly providing electricity for the toll booths and/or the bridge lights.
Also, there was discussion about whether a new bridge should include 12 lanes and extend light rail to Vancouver.
The cost for this new design was undetermined at this time.
Some opponents disagreed these wind turbines would make the bridge sustainable. They told The Oregonian newspaper that they were also concerned about safety and the cost.
Most policy-makers said a toll is necessary to help pay for for construction.
Oregon and Washington lawmakers planned to ask Congress to help foot part of the $4 billion bridge that would replace the I-5 bridge.

82nd Drive Bike/Pedistrian bridge is finally open

OK, I think this could be my final post about this bridge. On Thanksgiving, The Oregonian reported that the 82nd drive bridge is now open, after being closed since August of 2006.  We quickly confirmed it here, and got on the bikes for an early morning ride.  We did so for two reasons. One, we wanted to be one of the first across it after it opened, and two, well it is was Thanksgiving and we were planning to overeat just a little. It was nice to be able to ride across it and, coupled with the newly paved path from the bridge along the river, its a quiet ride all the way to the Oregon City Shopping Center. 82nd drive bridge open

I wonder if they would have fixed the bridge if it wasn’t needed for the sewer line?

This just in, Park Place Bridge is still closed.

Still patiently waiting for the Park Place, bike/pedestrian bridge over the Clackamas river to re-open.
I wrote here, why and when the bridge closed.
And, here, about its progress after seeing they have put a nice banner pointing to their website.
Though from up top, it has never appeared that anything has happened.

From below, looks like the old burnt wooden pillars are gone. Replaced with two nice simple concrete ones, at least on the south side.

Still not open……..Park Place Bridge over Clackamas

Designing our Oregon bridges..(can we bike them?)

We are in a unique time where we can decide upon the design of two new bridges in Portland. Not new really, as they are replacements, but we have the opportunity to make them new, and interesting, and useful for many years to come.  It has been 30 years since a our last  significant bridge project (Sauvie Island bridge doesnt count as significant) and I hope we don’t let it slip by and build some nondescript flat deck concrete structure.  Dylan Rivera wrote a great article in the Oregonian, titled “Can we afford pretty?”  It is my hope that our new bridges add to the beauty of our area, like the St. Johns, not add to the web of concrete like the Marquam,  and George Abernathy. And of course, I want the bridges to be traversable by bikes.  Dylan’s article also included nice drawings of all the bridges that connect Oregon and Washington, and, as I looked at them, I began to think about which bridges can be crossed with a bike.
I dont have the graphics, but I can list them.

  1. Interstate Bridge – The bicycle access  is not great, but stay on the sidewalk and you can make it across. A little narrow, and not what most would call safe or fun.  Perhaps a newer bridge will use some of the knowledge we have gained over the years, to make this trip a little safer and more appealing to bike riders for years to come.
  2. Glenn Jackson – Easy access from the bike paths in Oregon, there is a path separated by concrete walls, between the North/South lanes.  Noisy, and can be very windy, but a safe ride. this is the newest bridge, and I think, the safest one to ride.
  3. Lewis and Clark Bridge – I first rode this bridge with a buddy nearly 30 years ago. Since then, we have crossed it during the Seattle to Portland ride put on by the Cascasde Bicycle Club.  For the ride they had pace cars to accompany groups of riders. If I rode it solo again, I would stay on the sidewalk.
  4. Astoria-Megler Bridge.  One very long bridge.  Again, I first rode this bridge on the return route from Canada, with my buddy so very long ago.  I don’t remember much about that ride over the bridge, but seems to me we might have walked on the sidewalk for part of that ride.  It was in the 70′s, and the term bike-friendly had not yet been invented.  Our last ride across this bridge was summer of 2008, with Cycle Oregon. We did ride on the roadway, in a white laned shoulder that has been slightly widened recently.  We were not escorted across, as I thought we might have been, but with so many riders on the road, the presence of a bike didn’t appear to surprise the drivers, so it at least felt safe. I dont know if I would want to ride that entire bridge if I were not in a group.
  5. Bridge of the Gods - there is a nice 80 mile loop that includes the Glenn Jackson and the Bridge of the Gods.  There used to be a 50 cent toll, but I have heard that has since been rescinded.  Honey hates riding this bridge, as it is pretty high up, and the decking is steel grating, and at bike speed the grate seems to disappear when you look down, so all you see is the river far below. You do ride on the deck, in the lane, but the traffic is slower, you are pretty visible, the bridge seems short and the drivers are usually patient.
  6. Hood River Bridge, The Dalles Bridge, Sam Hill Bridge and Umatilla Bridge. – I lump all these together, since I have not ridden my bike across them, nor am I sure you can even ride over them, safely or not.

I guess we will have to find out if riding a bike over these remaining bridge are at all possible.

Bike traffic is going to continue to increase in the years to come.  It would seem such a mistake if they are not adequately planned for with our new bridges.

Sellwood Bridge project update – July 2008

What’s the latest update on the Sellwood Bridge Project?
The Sellwood Bridge Project team has been very busy these past few months preparing the draft Environmental Impact Statement (draft EIS). The five alternatives under consideration have been analyzed to determine their impacts in a broad range of environmental categories. The alternatives also have been compared against maintaining the bridge as it is with repairs to keep it in use for 20 more years (the “No Build” alternative). The draft EIS is currently being reviewed by the participating agencies.

What happens next?
After agency review, the draft EIS will go to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for their review. The document will then be made available to the public this fall and there will be plenty of opportunity for public discussion about the alternatives and their impacts. Another round of public outreach will occur at that time, including another newsletter, open house, online survey, and a public hearing on the draft EIS. A public comment period will accompany the release of the document. All public comments about the document received at that time will become part of the official record and will be responded to in the final EIS.

The Community Task Force and Policy Advisory Group will then consider the public comments before recommending a preferred alternative. This recommendation is expected to be made by the end of this year. The recommended alternative will be submitted for approval to the Multnomah County Commission, Portland City Council, and the Metro Council. After those approvals, the selected alternative will be forwarded for final approval to the FHWA.

How to get a copy of the Draft EIS
The best way to look at the draft EIS will be to go through the project website (www.sellwoodbridge.org). Newsletters and other public notices will go out in advance of the public comment period.