Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I-5 Bridge, Santiam River

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Today's fun bridge adventure takes us south out of Portland, to the I-5 bridge over the Santiam River. It's not a terribly interesting bridge (ok, pair of bridges), just a big modern concrete job. Note that although there's a photo of the bridge on Wikimedia, nobody's ever bothered writing a proper Wikipedia article about it, which tells you something when you consider all the weird things that do merit their own Wikipedia articles. I only bothered with this bridge because I happened to stop at the adjacent Santiam Rest Area, and I noticed there was a bridge right there, and I figured I ought to take some photos of it, and here they are.

You will not be completely surprised to learn that the previous bridge on the site, from the highway's previous career as US 99E, was far more interesting, a classic Conde McCullough-style arch bridge. This is probably where the scalloped sorta-arch motif on the underside of the current bridge comes from. There's another photo of the old bridge on Flickr.

It turns out that the old bridge has a surviving sibling nearby. The Jacob Conser Bridge carries Oregon Highway 164 over the Santiam River at Jefferson, OR, and you'll note that it looks similar but not quite identical to the lost bridge. The state highway department liked to do variations on a theme back then, trying to make each bridge just a little distinctive. BridgeHunter credits the bridge to Glenn S. Paxson, McCullough's successor as State Bridge Engineer. Who, believe it or not, is also "credited" with Portland's unlovely Marquam Bridge. No, really, he is.

(I should point out that I'm not actually expanding the ongoing bridge project to Santiam River bridges generally. If I'm in the area again I might go check out the one in Jefferson, but I'm not promising anything. I'm also not expanding the city and state park project to cover highway rest areas, because that would be creepy. Eew.)

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