October 24, 2011

After several years of planning and design work, Multnomah County’s project to replace the deteriorated Sellwood Bridge is approaching the construction phase.

In December, work will begin in the Willamette River to place piers for a temporary detour bridge that will be roughly 40 feet north of the existing bridge. In July 2012, in-water work is expected to begin on the river piers for the new bridge. The entire project should be completed by the end of 2015.

Some of the project’s first field work took place this month when a building below the east approach to the bridge was demolished to make room for the new bridge.

The former Oregon Door Company building was built in 1909 when the waterfront in the Sellwood area had many industrial buildings. When Multnomah County built the Sellwood Bridge in the 1920s, it lacked funds to buy the building that was in the path of the east approach to the bridge. The county bought an easement and constructed six columns for the bridge through the building. For the next 85 years, the building sat under the bridge. Eventually, it became an office building.

This year, the county acquired the building and a parking lot for the bridge project. The new bridge will be built where the building stood and the old bridge will need to be demolished in a few years. A contractor removed the building in October, recycling its old growth timbers and other reusable parts. The six bridge columns inside the building are in good condition.

The cost to replace the Sellwood Bridge and build a new interchange with Oregon Highway 43 is estimated at $268.8 million. Multnomah County has secured 92 percent of the funds, which include contributions from the City of Portland and ODOT. This month, the county will submit a grant request to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the remaining $22.7 million through the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program.

For more information, visit www.sellwoodbridge.org.