Railroad Bridge Pier Removal

A Union Pacific Railroad bridge across the Willamette River in Oregon was replaced and 2 remaining piers had to be removed. The 11’ diameter concrete-filled steel caissons needed to be cut 10’ underwater to the mudline.


Harrisburg, OR


Union Pacific Railroad, Allen Engineering


The first challenge faced was the current, which was so strong at that point in the river it was tilting the saw. In addition, they were working on a tight schedule. Any disturbance to the river which might adversely affect water quality was prohibited beginning just 3 days after we started cutting, to protect the salmon run.

Bluegrass had designed and engineered an underwater wire saw specific to this task. The frame was designed to sit on the casing as the diamond wire cut the pier. The patented saw was tested at our headquarters in Alabama, adjustments made in our Machine Shop, retested, and then shipped across the country to Oregon. Bluegrass technicians met it there, and in the process of setting it into place discovered the effect of the strong river current.

A crane was brought into action and attached to the saw frame to hold it level, and the cutting continued. Each caisson was cut in 7 hours, and several 26” pilings were also cut before the equipment was removed from the river on schedule.


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