With many highway improvement projects, the work is straightforward; the challenge is often how to do the work with the least impact to traffic.
That will be the case next spring when four Interstate 5 bridges near Valley of the Rogue State Park will have their decks repaired. They are the two interstate bridges over the Rogue River and the two nearby bridges over Rogue River Highway (Oregon 99).
“These four bridges are past due for repair,” said ODOT Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs.
The bridges were constructed and placed into service in 1961. In the 1980s, they received a structural overlay on the bridge decks. Since then, some parts of the concrete deck have separated from the bridge supports.
But to do that work next year, and still keep traffic flowing, may test the patience of late night drivers and nearby residents along Rogue River Highway.
“We’ve looked at various ways to do the work and still keep traffic moving,” said ODOT Transportation Project Manager Justin Shoemaker. “We looked at repairing them under traffic, but in the interest of worker safety, the bridge is too narrow to mix traffic and workers.”
The work will be similar to the recently completed deck repairs to the Medford Viaduct. It also had an element of risk with the contractor working within inches of night time traffic.
Instead, traffic will be detoured for about three miles at night onto nearby Oregon 99 between the city of Rogue River (Exit 48) and the south side of the Rogue River (Exit 45A)
“We know that won’t be the usual traffic running late at night on Rogue River Highway,” said Shoemaker.
Still, traffic counts on the interstate at night are a trickle of what they are during the day.
According to Shoemaker, the repairs are expected to take about six weeks, in each direction, Sunday through Thursday nights.
Circles and Squares
Drivers on the bridges near Valley of the Rogue State Park may have seen the faded patchwork of circles and squares on the decks. Those areas will be further investigated; those found defective areas will be removed, possibly with jackhammer.
Once those areas are fixed on the bridge, the deck will get a new overlay of a fast-drying wearing surface called a pre-mixed polymer concrete, similar to what was placed on Caveman Bridge in Grants Pass.
“It has to be dry and is sensitive to temperature,” said Grubbs. “Not too hot, and not too cold.”
Grubbs estimates the new overlay will give the bridge decks another 10-15 years old life.
The outreach has just begun. Shoemaker has met with the nearby Murphy Mill and with rangers from Valley of the Rogue State Park. To keep campers connected, advisories will be placed on the state park’s reservation system and flaggers will direct the few late-night campers to the park.
Watch for an open house in the Rogue River area in for the near future.