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I-5 southbound Willamette River Bridge opens two months ahead of schedule
08/24/2011
Congressman Peter DeFazio and state Representative Terry Beyer joined Oregon Department of Transportation managers, local elected officials and other distinguished guests to celebrate the opening of the Interstate 5 southbound Willamette River Bridge in Eugene and Springfield on Thursday, August 18.
 


Attendees walk across the new bridge.
The communities of Eugene and Springfield gathered to commemorate the opening of the highly anticipated replacement of the existing detour bridge that spans the Willamette River, Canoe Canal and Alton Baker Park. Attendees had the rare opportunity to walk across the completed bridge before it opens to traffic, seeing the views the structure offers at a slower pace rather than at highway speeds.
 
The opening of the southbound bridge marks the halfway point on the largest bridge replacement project in ODOT’s 10 year, $1.3 billion OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program. Originally slated to open in October 2011, the southbound bridge was completed two months ahead of schedule.
 
Highlights of the southbound bridge include its graceful deck-arch design, single-pier construction, wide shoulders, expansive work bridge and overall safety for motorists. The new bridge is expected to serve this portion of the I-5 corridor for the next 100 years.
Crews have already begun preliminary work on the northbound bridge by building out the work bridge on the project’s north side. Southbound traffic will be moved from the detour bridge to the southbound bridge the week of Aug. 29. Once northbound traffic is moved from the detour bridge to the completed southbound structure in October, crews will begin the process of dismantling the detour bridge.
 
In addition to this bridge’s early completion, it also played a direct role in revitalizing the local and state economy. ODOT brought on 20 Lane County-based contractors and subcontractors to build the southbound structure, putting $49 million back into the local community. A total of 70 Oregon-based companies worked on this project, injecting $73 million into the state economy. And disadvantaged, minority-owned, women-owned and emerging small businesses were given 34 percent of the subcontracting work — 33 firms in total.
 
Contractor Hamilton Construction plans to begin building the northbound bridge in early December, replicating the southbound structure’s deck-arch, single-pier design. It is anticipated to open to traffic in late fall 2013. The overall project, which is also enhancing areas around the bridge, is scheduled to be complete in January 2014. For more on the Willamette River Bridge, visit the project’s blog.
 
The OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program is part of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s 10-year, $3 billion Oregon Transportation Investment Act. OTIA funds are repairing or replacing hundreds of bridges, paving and maintaining city and county roads, improving and expanding interchanges, adding new capacity to Oregon's highway system and removing freight bottlenecks statewide. Based on recent estimates, about 11 family-wage jobs are sustained for every $1 million spent on transportation construction in Oregon. Through 2010, the bridge program has sustained more than 17,000 jobs. Overall, the 10-year program will sustain an annual average of approximately 2,200 jobs.