Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bridging the Future with the Past

It took 90 years to deteriorate but only 22 months to restore. That's the long and short story behind the rehabilitation of the Oregon City Arch Bridge, the iconic 745-foot-long span that connects Oregon City with West Linn and serves as the historic final link of the "New" Pacific Highway which stretched from Canada to Mexico back when the structure opened in 1922. A few years ago, inspections by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) revealed some damage to the bridge's steel skeleton, so in the summer of 2010 it was closed for repairs setting the stage for yet another grand opening once all the work was completed.

The original Arch Bridge, designed by master engineer Conde McCullough, was made of steel and coated with gunite - a substance composed of sand, cement, and water that was sprayed onto the bridge's steel surfaces - but after decades in the elements, the covering eroded. So the overhaul included removing this coating with high-pressure jets of water and recovering the steel frame with concrete, as well as resurfacing the roadway and repairing damaged support beams, replacing unsafe bridge railings, and replicating the bridge's original lighting.

A three-day celebration commemorated the grand re-opening of the Arch Bridge complete with period actors, vintage automobiles, and spectacular fireworks. But most importantly, just like the ceremony 90 years ago when an Oregon City man wed a West Linn woman mid-span to physically and symbolically unite these 2 mill towns, a gathering of about 50 couples assembled on the deck to renew their vows. Now that's what I call Bridging the Future with the Past.

Special Note: This post marks the Sixth anniversary of Newsphotography: Exposed and I want to express my gratitude to everyone who follows, reads, and supports my blog. Currently I'm immersed in a long-term photo project that demands more of my time. I'll be back, hopefully soon. Keep checking in the months ahead when I plan to debut this exciting photo effort right here!


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