October 2 - Portland, Oregon, USA headquartered specialised moving company Omega Morgan plans to target the ageing bridges in the Pacific Northwest, having already successfully moved bridge spans for two high-profile projects.
In January, Omega Morgan moved the 3,400 tonne, 336 m long Sellwood Bridge across the Willamette River in Portland; the span was transported in one piece over the course of a single day. A video of the project can be seen on the right hand side of this page.
In Washington state, Omega Morgan jacked-up a 915-tonne span, slid it upriver and set it onto concrete piers with new pedestals. The bridge span was slid into place over the course of number of hours in order the serve the 71,000 vehicles per day that cross the Skagit River.
The Skagit River project came about after the bridge collapsed when a tall truckload hit several overhead beams. This accident put the spotlight on old and damaged bridges across the USA, and flagged up further opportunities for Omega Morgan.
In 2012, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said that 70 projects across the state would receive a cut of USD130 million of federal funding to replace and repair damaged bridges.
Omega Morgan states that, according to one report, of Oregon's total 7,631 bridges, 438 are deficient and the average age is 42 years. In Washington, the average bridge age is 43 and of the 7,806 total, 362 are deficient.
"Some of these bridges are beyond the point of repair and need to be replaced," said Kathleen Davis, director of highways and local programs with WSDOT. "Plenty of them, though, can be repaired, which will add many more years of operation to their lifespan."
Omega Morgan added that it is one of the few companies in the region capable of sliding and jacking bridges, with a proven track record of completing the complex projects. The company's chief engineer, Ralph Di Caprio, commented: "We had less than two inches of clearance on each side of the Skagit Bridge, which was 162 feet long and 60 feet wide. This was really a precise move."
The jack and slide technique to relocate bridges gets traffic moving more quickly and has caused politicians to ask why other similar projects can not be executed more efficiently. Washington State has organised a number of forums to discuss the issue further.