Built in 1961, the Interstate 5 Willamette River Bridge borders the cities of Eugene and Springfield and provides a critical link for moving freight and people on the I-5 corridor.
In 2002, shear cracks were identified in the bridge structure resulting in weight limits that detoured heavy haul trucks to Central Oregon, 200 miles out of their way. ODOT opened a temporary bridge in 2004 as an interim solution to keep the route open for freight and other vehicles until a new bridge could be built. The temporary bridge was constructed using materials and methods that could be installed quickly, but that do not meet environmental, design or seismic standards for permanent freeway bridges.
As part of the Oregon Transportation Investment Act III, funds were dedicated to replace the Willamette River Bridge. The project moved forward in November 2008 when the Federal Highway Administration issued a "Finding of No Significant Impact," based on an environmental assessment conducted by ODOT. Construction work began in May 2009. Over the course of the next two years, a massive work bridge was built, the decommissioned bridge dismantled and the new southbound bridge constructed. By the end of summer 2011, the new southbound I-5 bridge was opened to traffic, two months ahead of schedule.
North- and southbound traffic was diverted to the new southbound bridge to allow for demolition of the temporary detour bridge and construction of the new northbound bridge. The construction team opened the new northbound bridge to traffic, two months ahead of schedule.
Future bike paths
After discussions with park staff from the cities of Springfield and Eugene, ODOT has decided not to replace the bike path south of Franklin Boulevard. Instead, we will build a new multi-use path on the north side of Franklin Boulevard, connecting to the existing path just east of the Knickerbocker Bridge. This configuration will be consistent with the adopted path plans of the cities of Eugene and Springfield.
In addition, ODOT continues to work with the city of Springfield on the south bank viaduct to accommodate this new path. Construction on the viaduct path began in October 2012 and the finished path will open to users by September 2014.
Bridge replacement project cost estimate
- Project estimated cost is $204 million total.
- Funding sources are the Oregon Department of Transportation Investment Act III and federal SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) earmark funds.
As bridge construction wraps up, expect to see:
- Remove the work bridge by the end of 2013.
- Completion of the stream restoration project on the south bank in spring 2014.
- By September 2014, completion of the new multi-use path viaduct on the south bank of the Willamette River and permanent closure of the bicycle-pedestrian path on the south side of Franklin Boulevard east of the Knickerbocker Bridge.
- Reopening of Pre's Trail and the paved pedestrian path connecting the Canoe Canal Path to North Walnut Road in 2014.
- Reopening of the North Walnut Road path under the Whilamut Passage Bridge in 2014.
- Completion of design enhancements and site landscaping.