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ODOT Official: Oregon Bridges Currently Decent, But...

Oregon Department of Transportation

A new report from Oregon’s Transportation Department says the state’s bridges and tunnels are largely in fair shape….though it’s sort of downhill from there.

Bruce Johnson of ODOT says the general condition of these thoroughfares have improved since 2012.  And while he expects the state's most recent transportation bill to help cover continued upkeep…

“The fact is, we’ve had just too many years in Oregon of deferred maintenance and lack of systematic replacement of our bridges," he tells KLCC.  "So we are expecting overall bridge conditions to go down over the next 20 years. 

"You’re going to be seeing a lot more posted bridges, trucks will have to detour or reduce their loads, to go over some of those lower volume highways.”

Credit Michael Vadon / Flickr.com
Donald Trump, at Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, 2014.

President Trump has been talking up infrastructure as his next big agenda item.  Johnson says he’s hopeful that’s the case, but so far he’s not seeing anything definite coming from Washington.

Johnson adds there are a couple hundred old timber bridges in the state, many built back in the 1930s and 40s, that have been needing fixing for some time. 

With some of the $5.3 billion generated from the latest transportation bill, he says many are getting upgraded.

“We drill holes through the timber to see its condition. And in the middle of some of these treated timber pieces, we have 2,3,4, as much as 8 to 10 inches of rot!" laughs Johnson. 

Credit Matt / Flickr.com

"And so the timber’s just not as strong as when it was originally put in.  And we’ll be able to make our bridges longer lasting, and shift them out from timber to steel and concrete.”

Johnson says the upgrades are possible due to last year’s state transportation bill that will generate more than $5 billion through numerous taxes.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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