Weight limit on bridge could mean a 32-mile detour

Once the Crooked River Bridge repairs are completed not all vehicles will find relief: trucks exceeding new weight limits will have to take the detour

    Repair work on the bridge over the Crooked River west of Prineville is expected to be completed next week. About the same time that load weight restrictions will go into effect.
   Recent inspections have discovered shear cracks in the concrete girders of the Highway 126 bridge. The fear is that the cracks could lead to its closing if they are allowed to grow. A little over a week ago, ODOT bridge crews from the Klamath Falls area have been working on the cracks, using an epoxy process to seal them.
   The cracks, according to a state bridge engineer, are not a public safety issue and will continue to be closely monitored after the repair work is completed. The size of the cracks jeopardize the load carrying capacity of the structure, however. They will severely reduce the concrete contribution to shear strength. There is adequate reinforcement, the engineers believe, to prevent sudden failure but the remaining fatigue of the steel is unknown.
   That is behind the decision to place weight restrictions on the span. Starting Sept. 4, trucks over 80,000 pounds maximum gross weight will not be able to use the bridge.
   Trucks over that limit will face a 32-mile detour.
   The alternate route will take truckers from Prineville north on Highway 26 to the Madras junction of Highway 97. ODOT crews are adding a turn lane on 97 at the junction to help trucks make the turn onto or off of Highway 26. Signage warning of the weight restrictions will also be placed at strategic locations.
   Load limits as of Sept. 4 will be as follows:
20,000 pounds single axle
34,000 pounds tandem axle
80,000 pounds gross weight
Legal axle weights only