A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Overpass: A diamond jubilee

Written September 19th, 2014 by Hasso Hering


Looking for an elevated vantage point the other day, I hiked up the sidewalk of the Albany railroad overpass and discovered that the bridge is 75 years old this year. A significant milestone, it seems to me, and worth mentioning here.

As it happens, the overpass is exactly half as old as Albany as an incorporated town. Not that this matters to the thousands of drivers who cross the tracks on that Pacific Boulevard bridge every day. They don’t see the modest  plaques that remind people that this overcrossing over the Southern Pacific tracks was built in 1939 and that it was a joint project of the federal bureau of public roads and the Oregon state highway commission.

The structure has seen a few refinements over the years and been repaved several times, but its width remains unchanged. And it’s a tribute to the designers and builders that this bridge can still handle a volume of traffic that has to be much greater now than when the plans were made and the bridge was built.

An apparently abandoned camp site on the overpass.

An apparently abandoned camp site on the overpass.

In recent years, the city of Albany and ODOT have taken steps to discourage camping under the overpass and in the bushes on the ramps leading up to the bridge. If you walk up there, though, and look around, you see evidence that people have spent a good deal of time there and left their trash. That’s another thing that motorists don’t see. (hh)

The overpass crosses what now is the Union Pacific mainline and other tracks.

The overpass crosses what now is the Union Pacific mainline and other tracks.

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