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Applegate River Bridge project poised for winter hiatus

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The Applegate River Bridge replacement project is poised for a winter hiatus that follows productive summer and autumn construction seasons. With traffic moving unobstructed on a detour bridge, the prime contractor, Carter and Company of Salem, demolished the 58-year old structure and began building its replacement.

U.S. 199 traffic shifted to the temporary structure in mid-August, which allowed the crew to transition into building mode for the new bridge, located eight miles west of Grants Pass.

“Carter and Company is finishing the bridge caps, setting the beams and tying steel rebar,” said ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk. “Because pouring the bridge deck is weather-sensitive work, they may possibly take a few months off because of winter.

“But, who knows? There may be a window of relatively warm weather for the deck pour or they may button it up and come back in the spring.”

By spring, Carter and Company could pour the deck and have traffic on the new bridge by summer 2014.

The $5.9 million replacement project will use pre-stressed concrete beams on the new Applegate River Bridge. Nearly 50 feet wide, the new bridge will feature two 12-foot travel lanes with two 10-foot shoulders.

“The new bridge railings will meet today’s safety standards and, unlike the old structure that had six supports in the river channel, the new bridge will only have two,” said ODOT Lead Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs.

According to Grubbs, the new bridge will be slightly wider on the west end to accommodate a new turn lane at Riverbanks Road.

Critical in-water deadline extended
The in-water work permit spans from June to September because anadromous fish runs typically don’t spawn during the drier summer months. During this period, the contractor demolished the old bridge and drilled supports for the new structure.

“The weather cooperated, so Carter and Company received an extension of its in-water deadline,” said Paselk.

According to Paselk, extra care was taken during demolition. Post tension cables, installed during a 2001 repair project, had 170,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. Each cable had to be released carefully.

“When a cable goes, it sounds like a broken piano string,” said Paselk.

Construction began last spring. Motorists had to contend with traffic delays as fill materials were brought in and compacted for the temporary bridge approaches and supports. The U.S. 199 (Redwood Highway) speed limit in the work zone was reduced to 40 mph, which led to delays during peak driving times.

“We knew we’d have delays for a short time until the temporary bridge was constructed,” said ODOT Project Information Specialist Dan Latham. “The temporary bridge keeps traffic moving, so the contractor can focus on building the new structure.”

Vital connection
When the existing bridge was built in 1955, about 2,000 vehicles crossed the 547-foot span daily.

By 2011, the number of vehicles had increased to 10,300 per day.

The old bridge’s narrow 30-foot roadway and bridge rails did not meet today’s safety standards, which enforced the need for a bridge replacement project.

“The Applegate River Bridge is a vital connection between Interstate 5, the Illinois Valley, northern California and the Oregon coast” Latham said. “This project ensures that transportation resource will continue to serve for generations to come.”

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