A flurry of news around the Pacific Northwest means its time to catch up on some events around the region. Let’s start with some demolition.

Elwha Dam Comes Down Early

Ahead of schedule, URS Corp. construction crews have removed the Elwha Dam from the Elwha River, a major project I have long blogged about in this space.

The deliberate process of removing the 1910-era dam started in September after years of planning and now with the concrete fully removed from the river, the river was diverted away from a man-made channel and back to its natural state for the final time (the diversion channel allowed dam removal to occur in a dry state). Crews will now fill in the diversion channel, erasing it from the site, and do some final rock removal and grading work.

The original plan was for a three-year process, but a dam willing to come down, favorable permitting situations and nice weather cut that timeframe to pieces.

The Glines Canyon Dam, eight miles upriver from Elwha, is being yanked away too and could be done in early 2013.

Capital Hill Tunnel Breaks Through

The first light rail tunnel from the University of Washington to Capital Hill broke through in Seattle, finishing off the southbound tunnel for the tracks.

blog post photo

Crews from Traylor Frontier Kemper pushed Togo (the tunnel-boring machine) the final portion of the two-mile tunnel at 21 feet in diameter in late March.

Expect breakthrough on the northbound tunnel, via TBM Balto, yet this month, allowing workers to start adding track and building the University Link stations.

Oregon Sustainability Center Hopes Fading

Despite claims the Oregon Sustainability Center in the heart of Portland will still get built, the $62 million project still lacks the majority of its funding. And don’t expect it to come anytime soon.

The Oregon Legislature said no to $37 million in state funds and Oregon’s university system then pulled its $3 million pledge. And while the seven-story ultra-sustainable (Living Building Challenge specs) building proposed for the campus of Portland State University certainly has some folks excited, the shifting price tag has plenty more worried.

I’m no economist, but the structure is far more expansive to build than an average commercial building and the proposed lease rates are already higher than normal for the area, so upping private donations to the structure isn’t likely feasible. Without more public money dropped into the project (private money, a small federal grant and a pledge from the City of Portland have gotten things going) it may get stalled indefinitely because of a $40 million funding gap.

Deh Cho Bridge Proceeding

Okay, so this is a bit north of the Pacific Northwest, but the new Deh Cho Bridge has spanned Canada’s largest river, the Mackenzie River.

Amidst snow, crews near Fort Providence in the Northwest Territories have joined the truss sections on the cable stay bridge and will next finish up A-pylons, cables and the bridge deck.

Replacing a ferry and an ice bridge (yeah, certainly not the Pacific Northwest if we’re talking ice bridges), the new span should open by the end of 2012.

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