PBOT deploys crews to patch deck, gathers contractors for heavy work
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(Sept. 13, 2019) Structural engineers, maintenance workers and contractors for the Portland Bureau of Transportation have been tackling short-term and long-term fixes for the North Going Street Bridge, a crucial freight connection that was damaged by a Union Pacific Railroad derailment last weekend.
PBOT crews closed the bridge to all traffic on Saturday, Sept. 7, the day of the crash, and reopened one lane in each direction on Sunday, the day after the crash.
Early next week, PBOT anticipates opening a third travel lane on the bridge. This will create a second westbound lane, to give vehicles faster access to the island and reducing congestion that has affected North Greeley Avenue and Interstate Avenue during peak periods.
The third lane will be open, thanks to work this week by PBOT maintenance crews that repaired a section of the bridge deck, using jackhammers to remove concrete from the 89-year old bridge, and pouring new concrete on Thursday. PBOT engineers had found on Sunday that the deck was damaged in the derailment.
The third lane is expected to be available starting sometime the week of Sept. 16, but it is not certain exactly when. PBOT will provide a traffic advisory when it is open.
Other developments in the bridge repair include:
- Union Pacific Railroad officials ask travelers to stay off of North River Street, a private street that runs through the company's Albina Yard. PBOT posted signs on the road as a detour route in the hours after the crash, but the narrow, private road cannot handle large volumes of traffic and some travelers got lost on private property this week in the area.
- It may be several months before PBOT crews are able to open more lanes for traffic on the bridge. This weekend, Union Pacific is halting rail operations adjacent to the bridge column that was most severely damaged in the crash, so PBOT crews and contractors can safely dig around the base of the column for further inspection. Engineers are hoping to learn whether the footings and pilings that support the column were damaged.
- PBOT staff are in contact with Swan Island stakeholders to hear their concerns and identify ways traffic can be managed in the coming weeks. Interested parties can sign up for email or text message alerts for updates.
PBOT crews repaired a damaged section of bridge deck this week, making it possible to open a third lane on the bridge next week
Meanwhile, below the bridge, PBOT engineers gathered a team from engineering firm KPFF and construction contractor Cascade Bridge LLC to inspect damage to bridge columns, identify more information needed, and start to consider options for long-term repairs
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Two lanes currently available on the busy bridge
As of 2:30 p.m. on Sunday Sept. 8, crews had opened two travel lanes on the North Going Street Bridge.
Travelers are directed to the north side of the bridge, where one lane in each direction is open. A multiuse path that provides bicycle and pedestrian access on the north side of the bridge is also open. The bridge normally has three travel lanes open in each direction.
The North Going Street Bridge provides the only public street access to Swan Island, a key location for industrial employers, with hundreds of workers and significant freight traffic.
The bridge has an estimated 35,000 vehicle trips a day (both directions combined), making it one of the busiest bridges in the region. By comparison, the Hawthorne Bridge has about 33,000 trips a day and the Morrison has about 52,000 trips a day.
Derailment, crash and response
On Saturday, Sept. 7, Union Pacific locomotives pulling tank cars crashed into columns that support the bridge. There are no known injuries from the crash.
PBOT structural engineers assessed the scene on Sept. 7, and again the next day. After the train wreckage was removed, engineers could access more of the bridge on Sunday, Sept. 8, for further structural evaluation and damage assessment.
The northern side of the bridge does not appear to be damaged, but damage to other parts of the bridge was found on Sunday to be worse than initially thought. A second support column was damaged, and damage to the bridge deck was also discovered.
Further inspections will take place in coming days, which may include taking core samples and removing parts of the structure and surrounding soils to gain a better understanding of the extent of the damage.
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The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation