Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BNSF/Northern Pacific Bridge over Chambers Bay at Steilacoom, WA

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges, Birds-Eye View, 3D Satellite)

From Historic Bridges, Source: Journal of the Western Society of Engineers, 1914
I learned of this 1914 Strauss direct-lift bridge while studying a Strobel direct-lift bridge. But the Illinois River bridge no longer exists. So this is the last remaining direct-lift bridge in America.

BNSF Chambers Creek Lift Bridge near Steilacoom, WA 5/27/17

A David Honan Photo
BNSF rebuilt the foundations and much of the steel work in 2004. "When the bridge was built, the average weight of a rail car was 40 tons and the  average length of a train was 50 cars. Today,  the average car weighs 142 tons, the average train 100  cars. After years of withstanding immense tonnage from division rail traffic, the bridge╩╝s seats began  to founder, causing the structure to rock back and forth." They removed the old seats and built news ones. "Cement used to pour new seats was shipped to the job site using cement trucks loaded on flat cars. Each pour produced 18 yards of new concrete." [BNSF Northwest Division News, pp8-9]

One of the new seat sections
Update:

Robert Scott took a night exposure of one of the last Amtrak trains to use this route as it crossed this bridge. Scott's comment indicates this route is much more scenic than the new route. The first Amtrak train on the new route crashed because the engineer was going 80mph through a 30mph curve. Amtrak engineers should quit demonstrating that speed limits are real. If you exceed them by a factor of two, you will regret it.

Jeff Lewis posted two photos with the comment:
"Steilacoom Washington is the “home” of one of the more unusual railroad bridges in the United States. Bridge 14." The man who designed that little bascule lift bridge went on to engineer the Golden Gate bridge. Joseph Strauss is largely responsible for the famous bascule bridges that span the Chicago river as the founder of the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company of Chicago. - Images by Steve Carter, 2018.
In July, 2017, an Amtrak engineer caused a derailment because it ran a stop sign and hit a derail because the bridge was in the upright position. BNSF has installed positive train control on this route but Amtrak won't have the equipment installed in their locomotives until 2018. The speed limit for the bridge is 40mph. [SeattleTimes] I'm too lazy to research if this is the route that is being bypassed by the new route that had a derailment on its inaugural run. The new route is a little faster (10 minutes if I remember correctly), but much less scenic. [Use the label bridgeStrauss to find notes in this blog concerning his more typical heel-trunion bascule design.]
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Joe Tessmer shared
Georgie Li posted
Bridge 14 in Steliacoom, WA is a lift bridge that occasionally sees a lift for boats to pass underneath. Amtrak Coast Starlight #11 was held at Pioneer just north of the bridge to let the boats pass.
Katherine Brown commented on Georgie's posting
Our train wreck last July on Cascade



Oil-Electric provides more information and pictures.

Robert W. Scott wrote an article about this bridge in Trains Magazine, Feb 2018, pp. 38-41.


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