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by: CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Odot meeting

Attendance was light at a Tuesday Oregon Department of Transportation open house regarding the replacement of the Crooked River Bridge.
   About 12 people showed up at Prineville City Hall to express their thoughts and ask questions about the project.
   According to ODOT public information representative Julianne Repman, work to replace the Crooked River Bridge is slated to begin during the winter of 2005.
   "The bridge became a top candidate for replacement based on local freight need and usage," she said.
   The proposed improvements include replacement of the existing two-lane Crooked River Bridge with a structure capable of handling up to four lanes of traffic, installation of sidewalks on the bridge to help access to the nearby State Park trail head, installation of retaining walls adjacent to the canal to avoid environmental impacts and the possible installation of lights and rails on the bridge.
   In addition to the new bridge, a traffic signal, ADA ramps, and crosswalk striping will be installed at the intersection of U.S. 26 and Harwood Street, creating "increased capacity and safety in the area," Repman added.
   OTAK, which has offices in Portland and in Tempe, is engineering the bridge.
   "It is scheduled to go to bid in September, so late this year to start construction," said Dick Yano of OTAK.
   "We're still in the design phase so there's no construction contractor on board," Repman said.
   "And as far as right of way acquisition, we have two properties tentatively that we might need to acquire," Repman said. She declined to give the property owners' names. She said that because of confidentiality reasons, the names cannot be released during the property transaction phase.
   The project will cost $5.3 million.
   "That's the total project cost _ that's everything including construction," Repman noted, adding that money will come from a variety of federal and state sources.
   An audience woman asked if there would be sidewalks and Yano said there would be. Audience members were pleased to hear about the bridge aesthetics and many seemed excited to get the project under way.
   The bridge will be built in stages and Repman said one half of the new bridge will be adjacent to the current structure, allowing traffic to keep moving. She said once one side of the bridge is finished, then workers will remove one half of the old structure.
   "So there'll be one lane open at all times during construction," Yano said.
   Mayor Mike Wendel asked: "Is this going to look like the Main Street bridge?"
   "Similar to Main Street," Yano replied. City officials and others were complimentary of OTAK's work.
   "I think OTAK's done a great job of slipping a bridge in on a minimal footprint," said public works consultant Ron Kleinschmit.
   "It'll enhance the gateway into town," said Public Works Director Jim Mole.