September 15, 2006 Volume 107 Number 18

Topping Out The Tram

Members of Iron Workers Local 29 placed the last piece of steel on the upper station of the Portland Aerial Tram on Aug. 31. The tram will provide a link between Oregon Health and Science University’s Marquam Hill Campus in Southwest Portland and the new development taking shape on the South Waterfront.

The union work crew received high marks from project managers for their precision and swiftness in bulding the complex structures — which included the upper station at OHSU and the lower tower located off Macadam Avenue. Design revisions and coordination problems early on had put construction five weeks behind schedule. At the topping-out party, everything was back on shedule for a tentative Dec. 15 launch.

“There is no other aerial tram like it in the world,” said Curtis Anderson, field operations manager for subcontractor Carr Construction. Kiewit Pacific Co. and Doppelmayr CTEC Inc. of Switzerland are the general contrators.

The design was difficult to construct, requiring the tall, thin, tower (pictured below right) and the tall, heavily loaded upper terminal (right) to be built within very tight tolerances. “The mid-tower had to be within one inch of plumb,” Anderson said. “We were in at a quarter-inch.”

Anderson also commended Thompson Metal Fabrication of Vancouver for their quality work. “I can’t say enough good things about them,” he said. Employees at Thompson Metal Fab are members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 16. Members of Operating Engineers Local 701 also played a major role in the work.

The tram will travel a horizontal distance of 3,300 feet in a ride that will last two minutes, 40 seconds. The small photo to the right is from the top of the 195-foot tall mid-tower looking toward the upper terminal. At the top, a 100-foot, 89,000-pound steel truss sky bridge is connected to the ninth floor of the new Peter Kohler Pavilion. The mid-tower will be the only structure supporting the tram’s cables between the two terminals, allowing the two tram cars (each capable of carrying 79 passengers) to rise 500 feet over Interstate 5.

At its peak, 43 union iron workers labored on the project. They were: Curtis Anderson, Michael Billeter, Brian Bonney, Eric Bork, Mike Chartraw, Steven Cobb, Doug Colvin, Mike Cosgrove, Christina DeRosa, Eddie Drury, Mark Dunkle, Frank Evans, Jake Farrens, Tim Foster, Conrad Frickey, Martin Grant, Mark Grey, Donovan Hall, George Hulsizer, Tim Jackson, Travis Kotoff, Michael Lantz, Lars Larson, Bobby Lewis, James Lepschat, Ronald McCord, Ronald McDowell, Neal Ryan, Shane Nehls, Dan Ortiz, Patrick Osborn, Mike Phillips, Alexander Poljakov, Lewis Pott, Harland Rayne, Jeremiah Rogers, Aaron Rund, Donna Schneider, Jason Shook, Kraig Skinner, Travis Sue, Steve Towner and Richard White.

Members of Operating Engineers Local 701 involved in the installation of the mid-tower were Casey Marstar, Chuck Reeves, Drew Casey, Steve Davis, John Selegue, Greg Barlow, David Toney, Charlie Menefee, and Joe McCarthy.

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