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I-5 Willamette River Bridge Project | Environmental Improvements
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Environmental Improvements
 
In addition to building a bridge, ODOT will restore the surrounding areas to equal or better than original condition.  This includes paving paths, planting new native species trees with a minimum 2-to-1 replacement ratio, and restoring native plants to all impacted areas.
 
The bridge design itself complements the river and surrounding environment through the deck-arch design, which limits disturbances to the waterway while providing open vistas to both park and river users.  The new bridge design will also minimize disturbance to river dwellers, like salmon and Oregon chub, because each arch touches down in the water only once, in the middle of the river.
 
We are also protecting species and habitats in other ways. A work bridge captured demolition material and was used as a platform from which to construct the new bridges. The work bridge was made of a wood and steel and complete with its own drainage system. It was set 10 feet above the ordinary high water level of the Willamette River and was nearly 120 feet wide. Our goal is to prevent 100 percent of construction debris from entering the river. After the work bridge is dismantled, we also plan to reuse or recycle its 1.3 million board feet of lumber and 15 million pounds of steel.
 
Additional protections included containment devices installed on all heavy construction equipment to capture any oil or hydraulic fluid leaks before they reached the water.

Demolishing the original decommissioned bridge generated large amounts of steel, concrete and other debris. The reinforcing steel was separated and recycled. Some concrete was crushed and made into gravel, while the rest went to be used as fill by local gravel mines.
 
The same focus on recycling applied to demolishing the temporary bridge. Many of its reinforced concrete box beams were saved and reused in other ODOT and local highway projects. More than 20 box beams will be reused to build the new viaduct path on the south bank of the Willamette River. 

Historic Eugene Millrace
The millrace structure beneath the southern end of the I-5 bridges is a significant historical resource and is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Historic Preservation Act required that impacts to the millrace be avoided wherever possible and reduced where necessary. 
 
As the project winds down, the project team will work to make the millrace more visible as a historic resource and create new pathways to improve access for closer viewing. The contractors will incorporate information about the structure into interpretive displays to be installed as part of the final site restoration.