Monday, June 21, 2010

Lusted Road Bridge

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The ongoing bridge project takes us out to the Lusted Road Bridge over the Sandy River, wayyy out in rural Clackamas County.

I wouldn't normally cover something this far afield, but this one's a Portland bridge, in a couple of ways. It's a recycled segment of the original Burnside bridge, moved from downtown Portland to this spot when the current Burnside Bridge was constructed. The city of Portland also owns much of the surrounding land. A Water Bureau facility sits at one end of the bridge, and a large water main crosses a second bridge parallel to the road bridge. On the other side of Lusted Rd. is Dodge Park, complete with an old-style Portland Parks sign out front, although the Water Bureau runs it these days.

The view you see in these photos will soon be just a memory, as the city's in the middle of a project to replace the above-ground water conduit with a tunnel deep beneath the river. As part of the project, the conduit bridge will be removed. In fact, the plan is to move the bridge to a new location, spanning the Columbia Slough at Kelley Point Park. And instead of carrying a big water pipe, it'll carry bikes and pedestrians. That's the current plan, anyway. I like the idea of things going full circle, in any case: One (or part of one) bridge is moved out to the Sandy River, and a century later its neighbor gets moved back to Portland, albeit the far end of town. Ok, so it's not precisely full circle, but reasonably close.

The ongoing bridge project does involve walking across whenever possible. Those being the rules, I parked at Dodge Park, walked across, and walked back. There's only a sidewalk one one side of the bridge, namely the side opposite the conduit bridge. It's kind of spindly and narrow, but the bridge truss is between you and traffic, and there really isn't all that much traffic, so it's fine, although there really isn't anywhere to go once you've crossed the bridge. The other part of the bridge project involves dreaming up increasingly fanciful ways of possibly dying on various bridges, which I present as important safety tips. It's not a very good gimmick, but I've done it enough that I'm kind of stuck with it now. So today's important safety tip is to not hang out on the bridge if Mt. Hood erupts, sending an enormous mudflow down the Sandy River, destroying everything in its path. The possibility of this happening is one of the reasons the water conduit's being relocated, so this one's somewhat more likely than, say, Confederate zombies on the Burnside Bridge, or swooning over all the Art Deco Gothicness on the St. Johns, for example.

I didn't come across too many references to this bridge; although it got here in an unusual way, it's not overly distinctive, plus it's remote and not heavily travelled. Couple of random items, though: I ran across a painting of the bridge, along with paintings of various other local bridges. I also ran across the city's rules on residents of this area directly connecting to the Portland water system. Apparently this was something the city agreed to early on in order to secure easements and so forth for the big water mains into Portland proper. But they've tightened up the rules over the years, with a grandfather clause for existing connections. I realize I may be alone in this, but sometimes I find it kind of interesting to look at rules and regulations and wonder how they got this way -- was the system being abused prior to 1974? And if so, how? Or did some unnamed party stand to make money off the rule change, raking in cash somehow as locals were forced to form local water districts and build their own distribution systems? How much of a political issue was this back in the day? If old Oregonian issues were online prior to 1988 it would be simple to go back and check, but I'm not quite enough of a Real Historian to go rifle through old newspapers on microfiche just to answer a question, or at least to answer this particular question. If you know more about this than I do, feel free to leave a comment below.

I can't declare Mission Accomplished on Sandy River bridges just yet. So far I've done posts on the Revenue Bridge further upstream, and the Sandy River Railroad Bridge at Troutdale. I've still got as-yet-unposted photos of two more, and of another bridge over the Bull Run River (which flows into the Sandy at Dodge Park). I took most of those photos the same day as the photos you see here. Which was almost a year ago now, and only now am I managing to get a few things posted. Come to think of it, I still don't have any photos of the I-84 bridge over the Sandy, although I seem to recall it's an ugly concrete bridge you can't walk across, so that's not exactly my top priority. In any case, I'll try to get the other bridge photos posted before we hit the first anniversary of me taking them, because that would be embarrassing.

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