The Sellwood Bridge project is an ongoing effort by Multnomah County to replace the 87-year old Willamette River crossing with a new structure that offers upgraded facilities for all users.
Deficiencies identified in the old Sellwood Bridge that will be addressed in the permanent, replacement structure include:
- Narrow lanes
- Narrow sidewalk
- No shoulders
- No bike facilities and poor connections to trail system
- Bridge not designed to withstand earthquakes
- Tight turns at west end
- Unstable slope at west end
- Weight restrictions for vehicles
In December of 2011, it was announced that after a rigorous and competitive application process, Multnomah County was awarded $17.7 million in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help eliminate a majority of the $23 million funding gap needed to complete the project. An additional $5 million was secured from the Oregon Legislature in February 2012 to close the funding shortfall.
The Sellwood Bridge groundbreaking on December 16, 2011 kicked off the project’s construction phase. Citizens and representatives from Multnomah County, the City of Portland, the state of Oregon and the federal government came together to celebrate what can be accomplished through sound partnerships.
On Jan. 19, 2013, contractors successfully lifted and moved the 3,400-ton truss span of the old Sellwood Bridge, putting it on new piers and converting it into a detour bridge. The temporary detour bridge will serve bridge users and minimize the economic impact to local businesses during construction of the replacement bridge. It provides the following advantages over the original plan to build the new bridge in two phases:
- Savings of $5 to $10 million in project costs
- Reduction of construction time by up to one year
- Improved safety by separating traffic from bridge construction
- Reduced environmental impacts (due to less in-water work)
The detour bridge will remain open to traffic until the new Sellwood Bridge opens in the summer of 2015.