Swinging into high gear on the Salmon Creek Interchange Project

Crane operators lift the 120-foot girder into place
on the future NE 139th Street Interchange.
 By guest blogger Heidi Sause

It’s been a big week on the Salmon Creek Interchange Project. I’m talking high-flying, heavy-lifting, milestone-reaching BIG.

Now, I’m a hyper-enthusiastic transportation geek who’s prone to hyperbole even before reaching for my morning coffee – so you can imagine my delight when a 120-foot long concrete girder took flight on Tuesday.

Don’t get too excited (that’s my job); the flight was scheduled and carefully controlled by two masterful crane operators. But it was still a sight to see. Why? Because girder setting is one of the coolest things we do; it’s the point of construction when years of planning and engineering finally take shape in the field, and a reminder that we’re several 120-foot steps closer to a future with less traffic congestion in the busy Salmon Creek area.

The girders crews are placing right now form the backbone of the new Northeast 139th Street interchange, which will eventually carry drivers over the I-5/I-205 junction in the Salmon Creek neighborhood of northern Vancouver, Wash.

This week, our contractor installed 18 girders on the interchange bridge. They have another 16 scheduled for installation next week, which will bring the installed-girder tally up to 34. Thirty four down, 99 to go.  (Ninety-nine girders to place on the bridge, ninety-nine girders to place…)

When complete, the interchange will significantly alleviate some of the gridlock on Northeast 134th Street, the parallel road that runs just south of current construction work. The new interchange also gives drivers another option to access the interstates, and provides direct access to Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital and the Washington State University Vancouver campus (go Cougs!). 

We’re in the fourth and final stage of the $133 million congestion relief project, and on track to wrap things up in 2014. In the meantime, crews are in a frenzy of orchestrated activity: drilling bridge shafts, pouring concrete, realigning roads and – as enthusiastically mentioned – setting girders

Sign up for project email updates and check out our Flickr site to follow the interchange during the upcoming construction season – it’s going to be a doozy.