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ODOT Seeks Public Input On Historic Bridge In Corvallis

Chris Lehman

The Oregon Department of Transportation is seeking public input this month on the impact to historic sites surrounding a bridge it wants to replace in Corvallis.

The Van Buren bridge is a one-lane span that sometimes creates a bottleneck for drivers leaving downtown Corvallis across the Willamette River. The century-old structure is an icon of the city’s waterfront, but traffic engineers are planning to replace it with a modern, earthquake-resilient crossing. Local preservationists have objected to the project, saying the existing bridge could be incorporated into a comprehensive traffic plan for the area.

As part of a years-long planning effort, ODOT is holding an online open house through August 17 to take public input about the impact the project could have on nearby historical structures and archeological sites. Field research has already revealed 19th-century structural debris in the project’s footprint, as well as a smattering of Native American artifacts.

Construction on the project, estimated to cost nearly $70 million, isn't anticipated to start until some time in 2022.

In the meantime, ODOT is trying to decide what to do with the existing bridge.

The agency is hoping to simply give it away, and has even produced a video trying to entice someone to jump through all the paperwork required to move the span to a new location.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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