Hamilton Construction contracted with Fought & Company to fabricate the Wind River crossing bridge for BNSF, located in Home Valley, WA. Hamilton began accepting and assembling sections of the bridge on a 70’ x 100’ floating barge, located on the Willamette downriver from the St. Johns Bridge. Assembly lasted from early April until late July, 2019. Once assembled it’s long voyage floating approximately 60 miles down the mighty Willamette and Columbia rivers began. Along the way, the bridge aboard it’s barge had to pass through the Bonneville Dam Locks and underneath the Bridge of the Gods. Finally, once in place at the mouth of Wind River the 260’ long, 900 ton bridge was raised into the air 20 feet using four strand jacks then lowered into position.
You may be wondering why this newly fabricated bridge looks like it’s rusting and already in need of maintenance and paint? This is by design. A special type of high strength low alloy steel originally developed by United States Steel in the 1930’s called Weathering Steel was used. In suitable environments weathering steel forms an adherent protective rust ‘patina’, that inhibits further corrosion. The corrosion rate is so low that bridges fabricated from unpainted weathering steel can achieve a 120 year design life with only nominal maintenance. Hence, a well-detailed weathering steel bridge such as this railroad bridge for BNSF provides a low maintenance, and economic solution, serving the railroads infrastructure needs for decades into the future.