As a 100-year-old trolley bridge near Gladstone, Ore., started to wobble in high winds crews knew they needed to bring it down. So they yanked the bridge off its footings Sunday, creating a bridge belly flop in the Clackamas River about a mile upstream from the Willamette River.
The old railroad bridge, once used by the Portland Traction Co. to link the cities of Gladstone and Oregon City about 12 miles south of Portland, had sat unused for roughly five decades.
Union Pacific inherited the bridge in 1996 and locals had dreamed of converting the tired structure into a pedestrian path. But the unstable footings on the banks of the Clackamas River proved that hope undoable, especially after strong winds and a high-flowing river started tilting the bridge last week.
With government officials and railway crews concerned the bridge would collapse on its own—and possibly bring some power lines down with it—they instead decided to force the issue, splashing one end of the structure into the river on purpose.
In this video of the effort, the big splash comes roughly at 1:08 into the video.
Officials planned to haul the felled bridge onto vacant land nearby to see what they could salvage from the structure.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.