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A new bridge for Sauvie Island Saturday, December 29, 2007

The span for the new Sauvie Island Bridge sits jacked up on a barge at Terminal 2 in Portland, about eight miles upstream of its destination. The 1600-ton structure will replace the existing bridge that was built in 1950. According to Multnomah County, that bridge "is not adequate to meet the current needs of the island’s farmers and industrial businesses, is substandard for bicyclists and pedestrians, and is at the end of its service life."

The new bridge was raised at the terminal because it was safer and reduced the amount of time the Multnomah Channel was closed to river traffic. The bottom of the arch was 75 feet above the river as tugs moved the barge downstream.

The light on the St. John Bridge was beautiful just minutes before the Sauvie Island span arrived.

Just before the barge sailed past, a tractor-trailer stalled in the intersection at the south end of the St. John Bridge. That backed up traffic in three directions while a tow truck removed the disabled vehicle. Thankfully, I got to my shooting spot minutes before the road was closed.

By the time the bridge passed by the sun was covered by clouds.

At the bridge's destination, the light was beautiful again in the moments before the barge arrived.

And once again the clouds covered the sun as the bridge was moved into place. At 365 feet, the new span is significantly longer than the existing bridge. It is also much wider, allowing six-foot shoulders/bike lanes in each direction and six-foot sidewalks on each side.

Four tugboats were used to maneuver the new bridge into its final location right next to the existing structure.

It took about two hours to float the bridge from Terminal 2 to Sauvie Island. Crews expected to spend the next three days lowering the bridge onto its footings.

Markings on a beam make the $38.5-million structure look like a steal! The Sauvie Island Bridge project has been in the works since 2001. It has been delayed for a variety of reasons, including environmental protection and waiting for the barge to be available. The bridge should be ready for traffic sometime next summer.