Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vancouver Railroad Bridge

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A few photos of the Vancouver Railroad Bridge on the Columbia River, also known as Burlington Northern Bridge 9.6. Which, maybe not surprisingly, is on the same rail line as BNSF Bridge 5.1 over the Willamette.

Vancouver Railroad Bridge (BNSF Bridge 9.6)

Ever since I was a kid, I always thought swing-span bridges like this were kind of cool for some reason. Back in 6th grade or so, we had a big end-of-year class field trip where they put us all on a boat and cruised up and down the Willamette River, and we were supposed to take notes and there would be a quiz later, so that we could all pretend it was educational. I may have been the only one actually paying attention, teachers and parents included. At one point we passed the old Bridge 5.1, back before it was converted to a lift span, and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever, the way part of the bridge actually rotated out of the way.

Ok, so sure, this kind of bridge has its drawbacks. One of the big selling points when the lift span went in was that the harbor could now accommodate ships twice as wide as before, since the center pivot bit wasn't there as an obstruction anymore.

Vancouver Railroad Bridge (BNSF Bridge 9.6)

I feel kind of guilty this time around, like I haven't done enough work for a proper post. The "photo shoot" for this post took about 5 minutes (and I hope it doesn't show, but it probably does). I also don't have a lot of useful or interesting info to share about this bridge. A few years ago, there was a proposal to modify the bridge for the benefit of river traffic. The proposal was considered and eventually rejected, though. At this point, the Powers That Be are so focused on replacing the nearby I-5 bridge that messing with the railroad bridge is probably way down the agenda.

Except insofar as it would help out with the new I-5 (or "Columbia Crossing") bridge, anyway. I understand the rail bridge causes something of a design complication for the I-5 bridge. It opens practically right next to the Vancouver shore of the river, so to accommodate river traffic the new I-5 bridge will either have to do the same, which the design people don't like; or the shipping channel has to move south, which means modifying the rail bridge to be in line with the new bridge; or ships will have to make a sort of dog-leg sideways across the river between the two bridges in order to pass them.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole "Columbia Crossing" thing, so I don't really have an opinion about how they ought to deal with the shipping channel issue. Any option that doesn't involve ships hitting the bridge while I'm driving over it will probably be just fine, I guess.

Vancouver Railroad Bridge (BNSF Bridge 9.6)

Some photos of the bridge from around the interwebs, but mostly from Flickr:

from the river
more pivoting
pivoting at night - a cool, oddly spooky photo.
one train crossing
two trains, side by side
vanishing point
a train and something called a "hi rail truck" I always thought those were cool, but until today I didn't know what they were called. Here's more about hi-rail trucks, if you're as curious as I was.
trains bound in opposite directions
more vanishing point - I wasn't quite brave enough to get up on the tracks and take one of these. It's a very busy bridge, you know.
from around the corner from where I took my photos
from the Hayden Island side of the bridge
again from Hayden Island
wider angle from Hayden Island
from mid-bridge, presumably from a train engine
the Marine Drive span of the bridge, which is actually a whole separate bridge, the Oregon Slough Railroad Bridge, aka "BNSF Bridge 8.8" from the Oregon mainland to Hayden Island.
christmas ships

Vancouver Railroad Bridge (BNSF Bridge 9.6)

Vancouver Railroad Bridge (BNSF Bridge 9.6)

Vancouver Railroad Bridge (BNSF Bridge 9.6)

1 comment :

Noe Lee said...

Thanks for the link. I love this bridge. You did a great job of collecting photos and info!!