GLADSTONE, Ore. – Engineers from Union Pacific demolished the Old Trolley Bridge Sunday that was dangerously close to collapsing into the Clackamas River near Gladstone.
On Thursday morning, the railroad company noticed the bridge had moved almost 4 feet in just a few hours. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office immediately warned boaters to avoid the area in case the bridge came crashing down.
On Sunday, engineering teams attached cables to the bridge’s trusses and toppled the bridge into the water, using unmanned winches anchored on shore by heavy equipment.
The plan was to then pull the collapsed bridge onto the south side of land.
"Union Pacific engineers will continue removing the former Portland Traction Company bridge on the Clackamas River over the next several days," Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said Monday. "The bridge truss will be dragged out of the river onto higher ground in Oregon City. At that point the bridge material will be broken up and disposed of according to state regulations."
He said high water and other weather-related issues made it hard to estimate when the work would be finished.
Authorities secured the area and even asked a nearby resident to leave his home during the project. Nearby power lines were also disabled in case the bridge collapses into them.
Bystanders started to gather a safe distance away from the project to watch the demolition at Charles Ames Memorial City Park in Gladstone.
"When I come down Portland Avenue in my car, I'm used to that big black square down there beckoning. It's gone!" Al Uney said as he watched crews working with the bridge Monday. "They pulled it about 18 inches this morning and then they started cutting pieces out, so it will be interesting to see what's next."
The bridge is an abandoned remnant of a trolley line that connected Oregon City and Portland. It stood for more than 100 years but had not been used since the 1950s.
"It's a landmark that's gone the way of history, so its kinda sad," said Gary Schultz, who lives nearby. "But it needed to come down. It's old, a danger for people."
The High Rocks area where the bridge spans the Clackamas River is about a mile up river from the confluence with the Willamette.
KGW reporter Ashley Korslien contributed to this report.