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ODOT to Replace 21 Spans Along I-84

Mon May 25, 2009 - West Edition
Rebecca Ragain

East of Portland, Ore., I-84 follows the Columbia River Gorge, an 80-mi.-long river canyon as deep as 4,000 ft. in places. Visitors flock to the scenic area, causing this stretch of I-84 to have the highest daily traffic volume of any Oregon interstate.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is currently repairing or replacing 21 spans along this section of I-84. The bridgework is broken into five bundles for contracting purposes.

Two bundles are still in design as of mid-May: the bundle closest to Portland, including new bridges over the Sandy River and repair to the eastbound and westbound I-84 bridges at exit 18; and a bundle that replaces the I-84 bridge at exit 64 and makes improvements to the associated interchange.

An $11-million contract was let in April to Cascade Bridge for a bundle encompassing four I-84 bridges near Bonneville Dam. Three structures will be repaired, and one, I-84’s eastbound bridge over Moffett Creek, is being replaced. The Moffett Creek bridge is on an accelerated schedule for completion summer 2010.

For $9.1 million, Wildish Standard Paving was the contractor selected for bridge bundle 208, consisting of new structures in each direction over the connector to U.S. 30 in Cascade Locks, plus repairs to five bridges from Cascade Locks to Hood River.

Tim Hendrix, manager of Wildish Standard Paving, reported in mid May that crews were placing concrete deck on the west bound structure. When the deck, bridge rail and end panels are finished on the new west bound bridge, traffic will be directed across it so the existing eastbound structure can be demolished.

Forty-eight-in. (121 cm), pre-cast concrete box girders make up the substructure of both of the new bridges. It takes 11 of the 111-ft.-long (33.8 m) girders to make the width required for one bridge. The box girders will eventually be covered with an architectural façade with a pattern reminiscent of layered stone. The façade is made of pre-cast concrete panels that are hung with a 70-ton (63.5 t) truck crane and bolted to steel brackets mounted on the exterior box girders’ sides.

Repairs on the existing bridges consist of installing internal anchors to strengthen the structures and epoxy-injecting cracks. To facilitate access to the bridges’ undersides, Wildish Standard Paving is using five man lifts. Five on one job is a lot, according to Hendrix, so Wildish had to supplement its fleet with rental lifts. The company owns the rest of the equipment in use, including two rough terrain fork lifts and a small excavation spread.

Wildish has finished repairing one of the five bridges and is currently working on two more. Soon the contractor will start improving the final two bridges, which cross railroads. All the work should be complete by late next spring.

Also under construction is bundle 225. Contractor Capital Concrete had demolished half of the old I-84 bridge over the mouth of Mosier Creek by mid May; crews were expected to start the foundation for the new structure shortly thereafter.

The improvements to the I-84 bridges through the Columbia Gorge are part of a 10-year program enacted in 2003: the third Oregon Transportation Investment Act. Of the $3 billion budget, OTIA III earmarks $1.3 billion for work on bridges in the state highway system.

ODOT project engineer Steve Narkiewicz pointed out that OTIA put Oregon ahead of the curve both in terms of repairing deteriorating bridges and stimulating construction job growth.

“This was a jobs package as much as a bridge package,” Narkiewicz said. “We led the way, we were five years ahead of everybody. We smile when we hear about the stimulus.” CEG

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