Prineville bridge projects move forward

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: June 29. 2007 5:00AM PST

After more than a year of construction, work to replace the Crooked River Bridge at the entrance to downtown Prineville should wrap up in August, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The $3.1 million project is in its “very final stages,” ODOT Region 4 Bridge Inspector Michael Pulzone said. He added that the main structure is completed and open to traffic.

At the same time, ODOT is turning its attention to a second bridge project in Prineville, replacing the Knowledge Street Bridge that spans Ochoco Creek in front of Crook County Middle School. Pulzone said that work is in the early design stages, and construction is scheduled to begin in February.

The bridge originally was built in 1920 and expanded twice, once in 1935 and again in the 1960s or 1970s, Pulzone said. The original middle section was not designed to meet current traffic levels and has developed some cracks.

“They’re managing, but they’re not up to today’s standards,” Pulzone said. “This is a freight route, (so) this is a candidate for replacement.”

Rex Holloway, the community liaison representative for ODOT, said that crews were working on a core sampling at the bridge a few weeks ago to get more information about the geology at that spot.

The bridge sits in front of Crook County Middle School, which could create problems for parents dropping off and picking up their children, Prineville City Manager Robb Corbett said.

“They’re going to have to consolidate lanes, and any time you do that and you move traffic through a construction zone, it’s going to slow things down,” Corbett said. “My understanding is they’re going to do everything they can to construct the bridge when school is out, but that’s going to be a tall order, and I’m sure it will impact traffic for people getting their kids to school.”

Pulzone said he does not think construction could be completed during the summer months, which is why the start date for construction is currently set for early next year. The bridge is fairly wide, he added, so traffic will not be detoured; rather, lanes will be shifted to one side or the other.

The contract with the bridge will be bundled with two others in Mitchell, Pulzone said, so he is not sure how much the Knowledge Street Bridge will cost. Corbett said that ODOT will fund the project.

“They’re just starting the replacement process,” Holloway said. “What happens sometimes (is) if a bridge is to a point where it can’t carry the load, then we have to put load restrictions on them, so the idea is to replace them before you get to that point.”

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