Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Today, let's talk a bit about locks, dams and bridges. I was curious as to why the Columbia River still has the barge traffic it does as it's about a 4-5 day voyage from Portland to the Tri-Cities. Since there are railroad tracks on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the River that are used very frequently and the steady stream of truck traffic on Interstate 84, it seemed like river travel would be the most inefficient way to move goods. Here's what I found out. Usually there are two types of barges that navigate the River waterway; a single barge and a 4 barge tow. The single barge holds as much cargo as 134 trucks or a 35 car freight train. The 4 barge tow holds as much cargo as a 130 car freight train or 538 semis !!! That's a lot of traffic off the Interstate per barge....

For bridges, let's look at some pictures....

Longview Washington is an Ocean Port that moves huge quantities of products worldwide. One of these commodities is lumber. Here you can see one of the huge ships being loaded with logs to be shipped overseas to be made into a variety of products including housing, furniture and construction projects. In order for cars and trucks to cross the rivers these huge ships use, we must use bridges. These bridges in many cases must be fairly large ones. Two of these we crossed yesterday coming to Long Beach, Washington.

The first, outside Longview, Washington is the Lewis and Clark Bridge. This large structure is a cantilever style bridge that crosses over to Ranier, Oregon. The bridge is 1.5 miles long and rises 220 feet above the river. Some folks have no problem going over such a structure and some prefer not to do so. I'm one who doesn't have a problem as long as there is no construction.

Well, no such luck today !...No biggie, you say. How much of a hassle can a few cones cause anyway ? Looks like the lane narrows a bit but at least it's two way traffic.

Well, the lane did get narrower, and we got to share the road with some semi's and a few log trucks. I decided to give the camera to Debi to continue taking pictures.

Since the Lewis and Clark bridge turned out to be a piece of cake we decided to cruise the Astoria Bridge which crosses back into Washington from Oregon at Astoria, Oregon. This beautiful bridge is 4.1 miles long and is a steel girder continuous truss bridge spanning the Columbia River. It stands over 200' above the water and is 28' wide. It is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.

They must have known we were coming so guess what...? Yep...more construction.

At least it gave me time to snap a couple pictures of the cargo ships waiting off shore. These ships were obviously empty and waiting to take on cargo. You can tell that by how high they sit in the water. See the black top and the orange lower portion of the ship? When full the orange portion will be submerged. We watched them fill a ship with logs and could not believe how low in the water the ship was when full.

Finally, construction ends and we are on our way. This bridge rises over 200' on the Oregon side then dips down as the River is shallower here. It continues over to the Washington side where it rises again to allow more vessel traffic. Guess what ? More construction there.... They are stripping and repainting this bridge in it's entirety. The painting will take up to 4 years to complete at a cost of over 20 million dollars. Consider that cost in today's dollars as this bridge originally cost only 28 million to build in 1966. It also took four years to build it!

At last we arrive in Long Beach...Washington, not California.... we will be here at least a week before heading south and back into Oregon. We refueled in Astoria at Pacific Pride as they are RV friendly and fuel is much cheaper in Oregon than Washington.  We found their station easy access for our rig, they double filter the fuel and use the 40 gal/minute nozzles. We were back on the road in about 15 minutes.

Here we are, all secure in our site at Thousand Trails. This is an interesting park as each post is shared with two sites. Each post has a 50amp and a 30amp service. First come, first serve on the amperage. We found this site next to a yearly site so we have 50amp.  We will catch up on the laundry this week. Tomorrow we head to the beach...!!!

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