Ochoco Creek Bridge will be replaced in the upcoming years, with an estimated construction cost of $1.5 million

by: ANNEMARIE KNEPPER/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Ochoco Creek Bridge was built more than 80 years ago and ODOT officials say it has reached the end of its life.

Prineville's decades-old Ochoco Creek Bridge will be receiving a much-needed replacement in the next few years, ODOT officials reported.
   The cost for construction of a new bridge is estimated at $1.5 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2008.
   Mayor Mike Wendel said he hopes ODOT will visit with the city council about the project as it progresses.
   "We have had discussions with ODOT about that bridge," he said. "We want to do whatever we can. A lot of school kids use that. We have the junior high, high school and an elementary school all in that area. It is also there where the longest bike route in the city is."
   The current 80 plus-year-old bridge is located on U.S. 26 (Third Street) where it meets Knowledge Street. The new bridge will be constructed on the same location but will be 15 to 20 feet wider.
   The bridge will be one lane in each direction, with a two-way left turn "pocket" between the lanes.
   ODOT public information officer Peter Murphy said the bridge project will bring the structure up to current standards and improve safety by adding a sidewalk to the bridge. Currently, pedestrians must use the shoulder.
   A contractor has not yet been selected, said Charlie Burr of the Oregon Transportation Investment Act state bridge delivery program, the ODOT group heading up the project.
   "That will take place in February '08," he said.
   A design for the bridge also remains to be finalized, he added. However that part of the project is scheduled to occur in spring or fall of this year.
   According to Murphy, the bridge is located on one of central Oregon's most traveled routes for trucks and tourists.
   Pedestrian usage is also a primary concern added Wendel.
   "We are looking at possibilities of how to improve the pedestrian crossing there," he said.
   Approximately 12,000 vehicles use the bridge each day.
   Three construction alternatives are under consideration. Two would build the bridge in stages, keeping part of the structure open to two-way traffic throughout construction, the third calls for traffic detours around the project site.
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