Rendering of the new Willamette River Bridge

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wide range of skills needed to build bridges

From ODOT- It’s clear to see that construction of the new Willamette River Bridges takes a large crew, but what type of job skills are needed?

The project’s general contractor and subcontractors include a wide range of skilled workers:
  • Carpenters build the work bridge and wooden falsework. 
  • Ironworkers lay and tie together miles of rebar.
  • Assemblers and welders build the steel structures supporting the concrete forms and install scaffolding.
  • Equipment operators operate the large cranes, drilling rigs, excavators, demolition equipment, forklifts and trucks used on site.
  • Concrete workers pump and pour tons of concrete and complete the finishing work. 
  • Material handlers receive, store and distribute the materials needed, at just the right time, to keep the project on schedule.
  • Safety personnel flag and direct traffic, put up and take down signs and barricades that keep you safe.
  • Mechanics repair and service construction equipment. 
  • Engineers and surveyors verify and check the plans, make needed adjustments, and mark locations for bridge components.
  • Landscape specialists move soil, install plantings and minimize erosion.
  • Support personnel include managers, supervisors, secretaries and others who keep the project moving. 
All of these talented workers play an important role in building beautiful bridges that are strong enough to carry traffic for the next 75 years.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Box girder beam bridge construction

From ODOT- Arches, pier columns, precast beams, cast-in-place beams, decking and railing are all bridge components. When joined together, they link Interstate 5 across the Willamette River.

Joining the south bank of the Willamette to the freeway, the bridge is made up of support pier columns, box girder beams, a deck and railings. On some bridges, the beams are made off-site; however, the beams on these bridges are what we call cast-in-place beams.

Let me share the process of building the cast-in-place beams. Piles were first driven to support a steel platform for the wooden falsework. The falsework forms the outline of the beams just like a house foundation. Inside the wooden forms, reinforcing steel is tied together forming the floor, walls and roof of the beam. The floor is poured and cured, and then the sides and the top are constructed. The finished rectangular beams look solid but are actually hollow and are from 5 to 12 feet high and vary in length from 84 to 214 feet.

Then the deck is formed and poured on top of the beams, completing the bridge. Finally, all the supports and falsework are removed leaving the bridge standing on the pier columns.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From ODOT - Avoiding impacts to basic services: Construction of the Willamette River Bridge involves ODOT, Hamilton Construction Company and subcontractors, yet many other entities are affected. The project site includes many utility services that our construction crews must be aware of: power lines, fiber optics communication lines, water lines, natural gas pipelines, local network copper and fiber optic cables, sewer lines, and overhead electric lines. Before construction begins, we carefully plan how to minimize potential service disruptions to local customers by ensuring that utility lines are relocated or carefully protected. On the Willamette River Bridge project, we’ve worked with the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), Springfield Utility Board, Williams Gas Pipeline, Qwest, Comcast, the City of Eugene, and the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission. We’ve collaborated with them to identify potential conflicts between current service locations and construction of the project. Throughout the project, once the conflicts are identified, we work with the utility companies to find a solution to relocate services. While most conflicts have been resolved at this point, coordination will continue through construction. We appreciate the cooperation of the service providers, which has helped us keep our project on schedule.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A lot of concrete, rebar and other materials

From ODOT- Have you ever wondered about the amount of material it takes to construct a new bridge, especially one as large as the new southbound Willamette River Bridge?

Visitors on the project tours often ask this question. Here’s the answer.

The finished portion of the bridge will be made up of 2.7 million pounds of rebar and 7,300 cubic yards of concrete. Rebar is used to add tensile strength to concrete. It is usually made of carbon steel, and has ridges for better anchoring into the concrete.

The rebar ranges from as small as 1/2 inch in diameter up to 2.25 inches. It is labor intensive to install and link all that rebar together before the concrete can be poured.

More steel and a lot of wood was needed to build the work bridge in the river and the supports and wooden falsework where the rebar is installed and concrete poured to build the new bridge. About 14 million pounds of steel was used to drive the piles supporting the work bridge and to support the wooden falsework use to form the bridge arches. The amount of wood used on the work bridge and falsework exceeds 2 million board feet and includes 2-by-4’s, 8-by-8’s and many sheets of plywood.

The crew building the bridge used these materials to create the arches you now see spanning the river and the bridge supports and beams south of Franklin Boulevard.

On a side note, the web cam is operational again, check it out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Design Complete on Willamette River Bridge

From ODOT-Another important milestone has been reached on the Willamette River Bridge project. Design of the northbound bridge, along with modifications to Interstate 5 lanes and ramps is complete. This is the last major engineering design work needed to guide completion of the new I-5 bridges. Finishing the design work is a result of close collaboration between Oregon Department of Transportation, OBEC Consulting Engineers, Hamilton Construction and a large group of key community stakeholders.

While the bridge and roadway design work has been completed other design efforts are ongoing. Regional artists continue to work with stakeholders to design artistic enhancements to the project area.

The team, especially our committed stakeholders, is to be complimented on a job well done. I know the community will be pleased with the results when the entire project is complete.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Whilamut Passage design enhancements will grace the Willamette River bridges

From ODOT-
As part of the Willamette River Bridge project, ODOT is working with Pacific Northwest artists to create enhancements near pedestrian paths on the north and south banks of the Willamette River and along Interstate 5 near the bridges.
The enhancements will follow the Whilamut Passage theme, to reflect an intersection in time, a confluence and a crossing. The Whilamut Passage theme will incorporate words, phrases and images that encompass the variety of users—past, present and future—as well as the area’s geography.
Fourteen artists proposed and a volunteer selection committee selected five finalists whose proposals reflect the Whilamut Passage theme. The artists are all based in the Pacific Northwest: Adam McIsaac and Travis Mercier, rhiza Architecture + Design, Lillian Pitt, Devin Laurence Field, and Eutectica Design.
Examples of public art and enhancements by these teams can be found in Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, Springfield, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Portland and across the border in Washington. Some of the materials used by these artists in other communities include wood, concrete, stainless steel, and bronze.
The Community Advisory Group will make a recommendation to ODOT’s design team on a finalist from the proposed designs in late April. Once selected, the artist will complete the design and engineering for bidding and installation.
According to the current design enhancement schedule, you will start to see the enhancements in the fall of 2013 or spring 2014, after both bridges have been completed.
Look for information in the near future about a public open house in Eugene the first week of April when all five finalists will present their proposed designs.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Beyond the arches

From ODOT- With all the attention that’s been focused on building the graceful arches for the new I-5 Willamette River Bridge, you may not realize that they are but part of a series of four independent bridges linked together form a single span from the north bank of the Willamette River to the south end of the project past Franklin Boulevard.
While the arch spans obviously catch your eye as they prominently cross the river, they are not the longest part of the new bridge.
South of the river, the new I-5 bridge crosses over Franklin Boulevard, railroad tracks, the I-5 off-ramp to Franklin Boulevard, pedestrian paths and local creeks and drainages. The bridge over the river is 806 feet long, but the portion from Franklin Boulevard south is 900 feet long.
We’re building two more independent bridges south of the river. They will consist of box girder beams constructed on site followed by forming and pouring the bridge deck on top.
Another much smaller box girder bridge will connect I-5 on the river’s north bank to the arch bridges crossing the Willamette.
Each independent bridge must be tensioned separately. Once tensioned, the deck of the new southbound bridge will become one continuous smooth surface, from the north bank of the Willamette River to south of Franklin Boulevard.
The new bridge on the north bank of the Willamette River.
Bridge construction south of the river.