Traffic restrictions on the bridge over the Crooked River which has caused some delays for the past few weeks will continue, at least for another month or so.
>Flaggers have held traffic on the Crooked River Bridge to one-lane while repair crews have been working on the structure, a condition that will continue for a while longer
In August, bridge repair crews began the job of repairing cracks in bridge beams that had been discovered during a recent inspection. At the time a state bridge engineer said the cracks were not a public safety issue and will continue to be closely monitored after the repair work is completed.
The size of the cracks could jeopardize the load carrying capacity of the structure, however, and 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.
As the repair crews began to work, traffic flaggers were placed on each side of the bridge and regular commuters started getting use to one-way traffic. These delays were for the most part of short duration, although in one instance traffic was halted for long enough time that vehicles were backed up to the top of the grade. Directly after that, as long as it was practical, the crews changed their schedule and started their work day after the peak evening traffic times.
After completion on one phase of the repairs, citing safety concerns for the ODOT crews, that changed back. Since mid-September daytime traffic has once again been slowed to one lane across the bridge.
It was during the early part of September that new weight restrictions were placed on the span. As of Sept. 4, trucks over 80,000 pounds maximum gross weight were no longer able to use the bridge. Trucks over that limit now face a 32-mile detour.
An update on the project advises that a series of holes are being drilled into the upper bridge deck, an effort that is expected to be completed later this week. The next step is to have steel plates bolted onto the deck and then, finally, the surface will be repaved over the supporting plates.
During that process, because of the height of the plates and bolt heads, traffic on the bridge will continue to be restricted to a single lane. As one side of the bridge is finished, expected to be about Oct. 25, it will be paved and opened while the other lane will be closed.
Hopefully, Pat Creedican indicated, the entire repair project will be finished by November and the bridge will be open to all traffic, including permitted heavy loads. Creedican said is working to get the bridge on STIP replacement list for 2007 or sooner.