Monday, October 02, 2017

BNSF completes Washougal River Railroad Bridge replacement

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In this still from video, the new Washougal River Bridge, left, is being slid into place following the slide out of the old bridge, right. In this still from video, the new Washougal River Bridge, left, is being slid into place following the slide out of the old bridge, right. BNSF

BNSF Railway has completed the replacement of the Washougal River Railroad Bridge near Camas, Wash., using innovative techniques that preserved delicate wildlife in the area.

The Washougal River Railroad Bridge was originally built in 1908 and consisted of two 200-foot through truss spans with 50-foot deck plate girder approach spans. The bridge spans the Washougal River on BNSF's Fallbridge Subdivision in southwest Washington. Approximately 15 miles east of Portland, Ore., the railroad says the bridge supports a significant amount of traffic in and out of BNSF's yard at Vancouver, Wash.

The new single-tracked, five-span, 545-foot bridge was estimated to cost $23 million and was included in BNSF's Washington state capital plans in 2015 and 2016 as part of its Heavy Bridge program. BNSF said the new structure would maintain reliability and safety of the bridge for the next 100 years.

The railroad also explains that it utilized an innovative slide technique to replace the bridge spans.

"Rather than lifting new spans into place, they built spans right next to the bridge, slid the old spans to the side across beams and then slid the new ones into place," the Class 1 wrote on its Northwest website.

According to a video posted on the same website, the BNSF engineering team used hydraulic jacks to lift and pull the old trusses on skid beams, then slid in the new bridge spans. The railroad says the replacement of the spans is the result of three years of planning and preparation and the project was completed safely.

BNSF also points out its engineering team had to contend with environmental concerns with the project. For example, Ospreys had built a nest on one of the old spans. BNSF relocated the birds to a platform built on a pole alongside the new bridge.

BNSF said the bridge project is part of its ongoing work to maintain and upgrade its rail network to keep traffic flowing safely and efficiently and exemplifies the railroad's ongoing effort to inspect and safely maintain its bridges.

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