New Yorkers might know the name of Gustav Lindenthal for designing the Hell Gate Bridge on the East River, but this great gentleman from the Czech part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was also responsible for the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Oregon. The problem is that 1925 was a long time ago, and the bridge's concrete approaches started to crack, meaning that the weight limit on this narrow bridge had to be lowered from 32 tons to 10 tons in 2004. Something had to be done.
Instead of fixing the already outdated old bridge, Multnomah County decided to build a new one through a public-private partnership. But even with the help of the extra vehicle tax which come into effect in 2010, their budget is very tight. So when the idea of moving the old bridge north by 66 feet to create a temporary crossing instead of building a new structure came up, they took the opportunity to cut back on the costs by somewhere between 5 to 10 million dollars, not to mention one year's worth of construction time.
Sliding a 1100-foot piece of rusty steel weighting 3,400 tons is not something they do every day, so a very delicate method had to be found in order to move it along the curved bank by 33 feet on the east side, and 66 on the west. Some of the locals were most likely expecting the whole thing to just collapse during the process, but the steel span was as sound as ever. It was the concrete parts that were mostly held together by plastic bandages and industrial glue in the last few years, and that's why it received a federal bridge-safety rating of 2 out of 100. I thought that would mean that it's already at the bottom of the river, but apparently that means the bridge still exists.
After rolling to its new place at six feet per hour on January 19, the updated detour bridge was opened to the public just yesterday, while the brand new Sellwood Bridge is set to be ready by the summer of 2015.
I say well done Oregon! Mr. Lindenthal would be proud, even knowing that his creation will most likely be melted into new steel.
(Hat tip to SafetyRatingOf2!)