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Transportation time travelers
A mock time capsule inspires McKay Creek Elementary students
A mock time capsule inspires McKay Creek Elementary
According to the students at McKay Creek Elementary School in Pendleton, ODOT's future transportation infrastructure will need to accommodate flying cars and transporters. These were among the many visions for 2060 that the students will entrust to the time capsule that will be sealed in the newly built McKay Creek Bridge on U.S. 395.
 
In preparation for the Nov. 4 dedication ceremony for the McKay Creek Bridge, the students were encouraged to think about what methods of transportation were used in the past and what might be used 50 years from now, when the time capsule is opened. Class projects presented at the event included an 18-page bound book created by fifth-graders and a laminated poster made by third-graders.
 
Fifth-grade teacher Cathy Walters said each student in her class chose a form of transportation to research further.
 
"We've included everything from mules and horses to speed boats, sternwheelers and electric cars," Walters said.
 
At the dedication ceremony, in addition to learning about the bridge, students also gained an understanding of the many types of jobs and skills needed to maintain the state's highway system. ODOT Region 5 Manager and keynote speaker Monte Grove began by asking students if they know what ODOT does.
 
"Plow snow," answered one of the students.
 
"Yes, that's right, here in eastern Oregon we have about 200 maintenance employees who drive snow plows, snow blowers, sanding trucks, graders and other winter maintenance equipment. When they are not plowing snow in winter, crews are fixing damaged roadways, repairing bridges, cleaning culverts and a variety of other duties. It takes a lot of work to keep the highway system in good condition," Grove said.
 
Finished nearly a year ahead of schedule, McKay Creek Bridge was rebuilt to improve safety and accommodate heavier loads to efficiently move goods throughout the region. Weight limits that previously hindered trucking have since been lifted.
 
"The main reason ODOT asked us to rebuild the bridge was to increase its capacity to help with commerce and to make it stronger," said Ross Biesemeyer, project engineer for lead contractor Wildish Standard Paving Co., who spoke at the event.
 
The $5.4 million McKay Creek Bridge replacement is part of the $44.6 million McKay Creek to Silvies Slough OTIA III project to repair or replace eight bridges along U.S. 395 and other routes in eastern Oregon. A map displayed at the event included each of the eight bridge projects and photos of construction activities at McKay Creek Bridge. Students could also examine a mock time capsule and the sturdy bronze plaque that will mark its location in a decorative pylon near the bridge. Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are also developing materials to include in the time capsule, which will be filled and sealed this spring.