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City vows Bertha Viaducts deck will be back to normal soon, weather permitting

HILLSDALE - The work on the nearly 96-year-old Bertha Viaduct has been delayed so long that it has become the butt of neighborhood jokes. A city construction zone sign once announced that the work, begun last summer, was to be completed last August. The sign itself remained up until December.

Portland officials now say the removal of jersey barriers and the work on repaving the bridge will take place as cold, wet weather ends.

'We are getting close,' said David O'Longaigh, supervising engineer for the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

The asphalt crews need temperatures above 40 degrees and seven days of dry weather after the surface work has been done.

The resurfacing was scheduled for May 21, which closed the bridge to traffic.

Crews will now work under the bridge, which will require an additional detour for Southwest Bertha Boulevard traffic. Cheryl Kuck, a spokesperson for PBOT, reported that neighbors have voiced concern about the eight-month delay. 'We have been hearing from people on a constant basis. They are understandably frustrated,' she said.

Kuck said PBOT couldn't commit to a timeline for completion. 'There are too many variables outside our control,' she said, referring to the weather. 'We are doing the best we can. People who have called have been very reasonable once they understand.'

She added that the completion is 'high' on PBOT's to-do list.

Officials have no figures for the cost of the project, which is part of PBOT's regular maintenance budget, but at a Hillsdale Neighborhood Association meeting last year, PBOT public works supervisor Bill Long made a rough estimate of $200,000.