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Sandy River Bridge project team welcomes the FHWA
Hamilton’s Wendell Snook shows FHWA Administrator Phillip Ditzler the Sandy River Bridge.
Wendell Snook shows FHWA Administrator Ditzler the project.
Every day, thousands of cars and trucks travel on Interstate 84 – it's a vital route for the transportation of goods and services in Oregon. On a cold and windy December day, as traffic whizzed by only feet away, ODOT gave representatives from the Federal Highway Administration a tour of the I-84 Sandy River Bridge project site.
 
The Sandy River Bridge has faced many challenges, including increased flood risks during construction, and the project's success has hinged on strong partnerships between state and federal agencies. So when the FHWA's Oregon Division Administrator Phillip Ditzler and Assistant Division Administrator Emily Lawton requested a tour of the project, project staff jumped at the opportunity. OTIA III Bridge Delivery Unit Manager Jim Cox took the Oregon FHWA delegation to the job site for a tour led by Hamilton Construction’s Wendell Snook.
 
The tour started on the west end of the bridge, where the attendees had an up-close look at the gantry crane system that will deliver the beams across the water. The crane features a 100-ton hoist that will lift beams measuring up to 167 feet and weighing in at over 192,000 pounds.
 
By setting the beams from above, the project team avoids the need for a work bridge during high-water season. The Sandy River basin is vulnerable to flooding from winter storms, carrying debris that can back up against obstacles like bridge pilings and essentially create a dam.
 
"Top-down beam placement isn’t something you see very often — especially in Oregon," said Cox.
 
The group examined the gantry crane system as well as the supporting tracks that allow it to deliver the beams 840 feet across the river.
 
"ODOT is doing really interesting work with the gantry crane system," said Administrator Ditzler. "It’s an innovative approach to some of the challenges the project posed. I think this technique is very much in line with how ODOT works, and it’s a definite win-win for all parties involved."
 
Although they were assembled and operational, the stormy weather made it so Hamilton's gantry cranes were unavailable for a demonstration. But Ditzler saw enough to be impressed.
 
"The Sandy River Bridge lies on a very important route for the region, state and the country. I-84 is a vital throughway in terms of transporting goods and services. The bridges were aging and needed to be replaced in order to properly serve the people who depend on them," he said. "This project has put ODOT in a good light at the federal level and with Congress. It's important for us at FHWA to recognize the excellent work of our partners at ODOT."