Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fremont Bridge, August '09

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So here's a slideshow of my Fremont Bridge photos from the recent Bridge Pedal, er, Stride. As I mentioned in my Marquam Bridge post, I only did this so I could get photos of the two freeway bridges. The Marquam involved a bit of an adventure. The Fremont merely involved following the herd. Like I always say, I'm not much of a joiner, and I can't say I'm really stoked about done the whole Portland tribal ritual thing. I was tempted to make "Mooo" sounds while trudging along in the group, all of us with our identical blue bibs on, but I figured some of my fellow trudgers might take it the wrong way. But it was either this or have the car conveniently break down in the middle of the bridge while I happened to have a camera along.

I hope the photos give some idea of just how gargantuan the Fremont is. It really is freakin' monumental. It's really a bit larger than it strictly needed to be; like the Marquam, the height is partly to not impede commercial river traffic, river traffic that mostly isn't there anymore this far upriver. Also like the Marquam, the Fremont was supposed to accomodate additional freeways that were never built. On the west side, the big ramps labeled "St. Helens / US 30" were supposed to be the beginning of Interstate 505, an upgrade to US 30 intended as the gateway to the suburban sprawl of Sauvie Island, St. Helens, and Scappoose. On the east side, where today's Kerby Avenue ramps are (along with a couple of stub "ghost" ramps) was supposed to be the Rose City Freeway, which I think was supposed to replace the current Banfield as the route of I-84. The Fremont was also vastly more expensive than it needed to be; the state built the Marquam on the cheap about a decade earlier, and it shows. Everyone hated the way it looked, and rightly so, so when it came time to build the Fremont the state went wild and spent six times as much on the new bridge. You have to admit it's a lot nicer. I'd say easily six times as nice as the Marquam. And it's not like there's zero practical benefit from spending the extra cash; I'd have to go back and check on a couple of them, but I'm pretty sure the Fremont is the only bridge in town that doesn't have pilings in the river, so it's not a navigational hazard. So there's that, as far as practicality goes. Also, it turns out to be a great nesting site for peregrine falcons, so there's that too.

Actually one of the coolest things about the Fremont is how they built the thing. The center span was actually built off site as a ginormous single piece, and then barged in and jacked into place. Check out these three photos to get an idea of how they pulled it off. It's kind of a shame it was built long before there was such a thing as the Discovery Channel, as it would've been ideal for one of those "Mega Monster Construction" (or whatever the name is) shows they're always running. Not that I usually watch those.

Oh, well. In any case, I've walked the Fremont now (huzzah!), and I think I got a few decent photos out of the effort. Rather than try to organize them all I just put together a Flash slideshow for your enrapturement, so enjoy, or whatever. If you'd rather page through the photos manually, the title of this post links to my Fremont Bridge photoset, which includes these and various other photos of the thing I've taken over time.

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