Friday, October 19, 2018

BNSF/GN 1914 Ballard (#4) Bridge over Salmon Bay in Seattle, WA

(Bridge Hunter3D Satellite)

This is at the mouth of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

I copied the current satellite image since a $200m lift bridge with 155' of clearance is going to replace it. I have links to more articles about the replacement at the bottom of these notes.
3D Satellite
“As it goes up and down with a counterweight, what we found was that the trunnion bearing [on which the bridge rotates] was getting fatigued,” said BNSF spokesperson Courtney Wallace. BNSF replaced the trunnion bearings about a decade ago. About 30-40 passenger and freight trains cross the bridge each day, clearing marine traffic through the Ballard Locks. [RailwayAge]
Flickr Photo taken by C Hanchey, License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

GNgoat has a history of the bridge. The steel framwork inside the coutnerweight broke in Jun 1948. Trains had to be rerouted on the NP tracks for six months while the counterweight was replaced. Here is a photo of that counterweight replacement work.
In this 2018 article they describe BNSF's plans to replace the bridge. Since then, BNSF has decided to repair the bridge rather than replace it.

Steven J. Brown posted
Southern Pacific 4449 with the BNSF Employee Appreciation Special crossing the Ballard Draw Bridge in Seattle, Washington - July 12, 2000.

Bill Edgar posted
Shot today (15 December 2022)...the Salmon Bay Bridge, also known as Bridge No. 4, is a Strauss Heel-trunnion single-leaf bascule bridge spanning across Salmon Bay and connecting Magnolia/Interbay to Ballard in Seattle, Washington. It carries the main line of BNSF Railway on its way north to Everett and south to King Street Station and Seattle's Industrial District. It is the last bridge to span the Lake Washington Ship Canal before it becomes Puget Sound. Built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railway, it has an opening span of 61 meters and has two tracks. Additionally, vessel clearance when lowered is 13.1 meters at mean high tide, and up to 15.3 meters at low tide.

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak Empire Builder #8 crossing the Ship Canal at Ballard in Seattle, Washington - August 9, 2000.
Steven J. Brown posted
A Sounder commuter train bound for Everett crosses the Ship Canal on the Salmon Bay Bridge (a Strauss Heel-trunnion single-leaf bascule bridge built 1914) at Ballard in Seattle, Washington - March 10, 2004.

Steven J. Brown posted
BNSF GP38 2189 (built 1970 as PC 7867, became LTEX 3829) crossing Salmon Bay at Ballard in Seattle, Washington - April 8, 2001.
Gregory L Weirich: Switcher heading to the Ballard lowline?
Dennis DeBruler: I believe that is the Heritage 1 livery. I don't see too many photos of that paint scheme.

Steven J. Brown posted
A Sounder train heading for Everett crosses the Ship Canal at Ballard in Seattle, Washington - March 10, 2004.

Steven even got the typical angle on this bridge. :-)
Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak Empire Builder #7 crosses the Ship Canal on the Salmon Bay Bridge (a Strauss Heel-trunnion single-leaf bascule bridge built 1914) at Ballard in Seattle, Washington - March 11, 2004.
Steven J. Brown shared

Because the bridge is just downstream from a very active lock, there are a lot of photos of it in various angles of opening. This gives us an opportunity to study how the linkages of a Strauss heel-trunion bridge work as it moves.

Charlie Liu
The above is the exception of trying to order them from open to closed because the sun was low and we can see the floor beams.

Andrew Roszak

Chris Munson posted
Ballard Bridge 6.3. North of Seattle

Page N.

Roberta Thompson
James Koski

Maria Octavio Jimenez
Ballard Locks
Robert Matthews, bridge closing
Jason Nichols
Thomas Keilty

Deb Whitford

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak Cascades #510 (Seattle-Vancouver BC) crossing Salmon Bay at the Ballard Locks in Seattle, Washington - March 1, 2004. F59PHI 450 was built in 1998 and Became Metra 76 in 2018. The Las Vegas Talgo trainset, now in California blue, will be repainted to match the other Cascades trainsets the following month and renamed Mount Adams.
Steven J. Brown shared

Senthil Jegadeesan posted
Stephen Gerrish
Chaunda L
Chris Munson posted several photos and two videos with the comment:
BNSF's Salmon Bay Bridge
It is more often than not that we find ourselves in the proximity of something of historical significance, but if we are unaware of that significance, it goes "noticed, but not NOTED".
And so it was, June 16th, 2018, during a visit to the Chittenden Locks in Seattle, where a lovely bascule bridge wonderfully painted itself against the late light of a waning afternoon. Though I had also just driven past the north end of Interbay Yard, and noted the aging former GN SD's and SW1200 switcher, this bridge, in an upright position for the entire visit, appeared to be long unused, a forgotten relic, which deserved a photograph, but nothing more.
Fast forward to March 2nd, 2019, as I made plans to once again visit the Interbay Yard area, and reviewed the photos I'd taken before. On a whim, I asked Google, "what railroad bridge is near Chittenden Locks"? Oh - was I in for a surprise! The bridge, which appeared abandoned (and assumed so only because it seemed stuck in a permanent upright position) was not only operational, but carries the double tracked BNSF mainline from Seattle's King Station, through Interbay yard, across the Lake Washington ship channel, northward towards Everett!!
Please let me introduce the Salmon Bay Bridge (also known as bridge #4) built by the Great Northern railroad, in 1914. Constructed as a double tracked, single leafed bascule bridge, its structure has an opening span of 200 feet, with a lowered vessel clearance of 43 to 50 feet, depending on tides. The weight on the northern end of the bridge is a one million pound concrete slab, which allows the bridge to "tilt" upwards, so that ships with tall masts or of sufficient structure can safely pass. It is manned 24 hours a day by an operator in a small housing on the northeast side of the bridge, who controls the traffic demands of the railroad and adjacent waterway. Twenty to thirty trains per day typically pass here, except perhaps on weekends, which is when I'd originally seen it.
And sadly, though having exceeded a century of operation (and a major rework back in the 1970's), BNSF is in the process of planning a new vertical lift bridge alongside it, and rerouting the tracks. The structure will be razed, and another relic of railroad history will be forever lost. Perhaps in its last years of operation, I am thrilled to have been able to see this working bridge, as well as railfan nearby in the process. See the notes attached to the photos/videos for additional information, and thank you for your interest!
End of the line for Seattle’s Salmon Bay Railroad Bridge?  The article as several photos. Using "safety" as the excuse, it won't have a pedestrian or bike path. They could put the paths on the outside of the truss with space between the truss and the paths. That would be a lot safer than commuters standing on a station platform.

video of bridge going up      video of train

Summer of 2018 - so stately!

Different angle a bit closer, summer 2018

March 2019, east side of bridge looking northward. The northern mouth of Interbay Yard is behind me.

Bridge in downward position, from the east

Not a pretty shot, but wanted to show perspective from the north side of the bridge, with it in the upward position. This shot is not on railroad property, I am beneath NW 57th street concrete bridge beside the abutment.

Standing on top of the NW 57th street bridge, looking down. Note that bridge is now in lowered position, boding well for oncoming rail traffic. Those interesting mechanicals mid-shot are derails, preventing approach of any equipment when the bridge is up. These automatically align when the bridge goes down.

One more close shot of the north end of the bridge, open, from a nearby observation deck. The operator shanty is in clear view from this vantage point!
Alan Liesse commented on Chris' post
Allow me to present the trifecta: a train carrying airplanes over the ship canal (August 2016, but this still happens frequently)

Brian Ambrose posted
Here's another favorite from September 2003. Bridge 4 at the Ballard Locks with a northbound Amtrak Talgo passing by. Talk about a lot of water craft!

Coast Guard seeks public input on BNSF bridge project in Seattle

An Article about replacement includes a Photo Gallery


safe_image for 106-year-old Salmon Bay railroad bridge to be repaired, not replaced
Nicholas Boyd
: Worked on it to all new electrical 1991
"Rather than replace the bridge entirely, BNSF will instead replace the counterweight system and trunnion bearings. The decision to keep the bridge essentially as-is came after feedback from the community....The decision to repair rather than replace will save BNSF about $50 million."
[So if the community hadn't objected to a lift bridge, BNSF would have burned $50m dollars?
Another article]

BSNF via MyBallard

This BNSF video (another source) talks about replacing the counterweight, but it doesn't mention the trunnions having to be replaced. I'm still curious about how you replace the trunnions without impacting train and/or boat traffic. And how does a counterweight go bad?

safe_image for Salmon Bay bridge operator keeps railroad tradition alive
The mechanism that raises and lowers the drawbridge span and counterweight is what BNSF is replacing as the major aspect of the renovation project. They did that once before about 20 years ago, but Elsasser has been around long enough to remember working on the original 1913 drawbridge mechanism. In an enclosure above the operator’s shack was a giant gearbox, with enormous gears and other machinery dating to the Woodrow Wilson administration that required intensive maintenance.  “We used to go up there and grease them,” Elsasser said. “It was a two-man job. They’d have somebody run the bridge down below, and another person up above would paint grease on the gears as it was running a real slow maintenance speed.”

U.S. Naval Institute posted
After USS White Sands was decommissioned in 1974, it was bought by a company that needed to move the ship with an 81' beam through the 80' wide Ballard Locks. It was done by weighting down one side of the ship and then transiting the locks while tilted 38 degrees.
Jeff Deuel: Looks like an ARD (Auxiliary Repair Dock), aka floating dry dock. Possibly a sister ship to the USS Waterford ARD-5 and USS West Milton ARD-7. Both were home ported in Groton, CT at the Naval Sub Base.
I served on the ARD-5 in the docking and repair division from 1978-1979. We dry docked submarines for repair work. Sadly, I learned she was decommissioned and scrapped sometime in the 2000’s. These dry docks served in the Pacific during WW II. Primarily as repair bases for destroyers. It was interesting duty.
Rob Billington: The bridge is up! Recall one time we were going to pick up an Army barge that the Sea Fair committee had borrowed, moored on Lake Washington, with an Army 100 foot tug. Coming into the locks we are held up on the west side of the bridge as it is down, at the same time this lock is being emptied to let westbound small craft go out to the Puget Sound. Long wait on the bridge, the locks finally empty and lock light goes to green our side as out bound traffic clears and is heading out. Our skipper orders slow ahead, Standard Oil tug with fuel barge behind us calls over VHF "Army Tug ****, if you want to keep that nice radar and mast you have it hanging on you may want to wait, bridge is still down". Manual telegraph on bridge with man on the stick in the basement running the engine, he got full astern without a stop on the telegraph, we made it by about five feet, then the bridge starts to raise. The Master is sufficiently embarrassed but as the skipper on the other tug radios over next "Relax Cap, been there done that, it happens". It was a quite trip into Lake Washington to pick up the barge. We'd sent a bottle of bourbon to the Standard tug if there had been a liquor store anywhere within walking distance of the locks.
Michael Ayers: Served on that rust bucket, LOL! Slept in bunks where the asbestos was overhead, lost our towline in a storm and nearly sunk in port! Last used as a support vessel for the Trieste 2, deep submersible sub.
Don Maxwell: Michael Ayers I was aboard the the tug that pulled that rust bucket around. Were you on there when my ship got in a fight with your ship and got kicked off the base on Greys island
[There are a lot of comments about ships heeling more than 38 degrees while on the sea.]
 Daren Genau shared
When it doesn’t fit…

Matt Smith commented on the above post
She’s still in Lake Union, WA. []

No comments:

Post a Comment