Sellwood Bridge makes slow move onto temporary supports

SELLWOOD, Ore. Inch-by-inch, the Sellwood Bridge is on the move.

Hundreds of onlookers spent a sunny, but cold Saturday watching the 87-year-old southeast Portland span move a few yards to aid the construction of its replacement.

"It's been quite interesting. I've enjoyed the whole process," said Robert Seidel. "I'm just amazed by the engineering."

The bridge weighs almost 7 million pounds and is nearly 11,000 feet long. It will be moved about 66 feet on the west end and 33 feet on the east end onto temporary supports.

Engineers reported no problems Saturday afternoon and said the move should be finished by late Saturday evening. The bridge moved at a pace of about 3/4 of an inch per minute.

"It's like watching paint dry, but as you can see it's off its base," said Seidel.

Dorene Petersen lives near the construction site. She spent Saturday morning sweeping away a mess.

"Quite phenomenal really," she said. "This morning there was so much fog we could barely see it, and there was certainly evidence on the patio because there was concrete dust everywhere."

Crews said everything remains on schedule for the bridge to reopen by Thursday, Jan. 24.

It will then be used for another 2 1/2 years, with the new permanent Sellwood Bridge scheduled to open in mid-2015.

KATU's Joe Raineri contributed to this story.