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Work continues on OC-WL arch bridge

by: VERN UYETAKE Soon, a high-pressure water process will blast away concrete coating on the West Linn-Oregon City arch bridge. Onlookers may notice large curtains used to capture the water, debris.

The Oregon Department of Transportation released an update on the ongoing reconstruction of the Oregon City-West Linn arch bridge last week.

According to project coordinators, the most visible part of the effort will soon begin as a high-pressure water process blasts away a concrete coating called Gunite, removing it from steel on the bridge.

With the arrival of barges, the contractor is also preparing a containment system for the hydroblasting process. Big curtains will direct and capture the water and debris into containers so none of it enters the Willamette River, according to ODOT.

The curtains will be moved as the work progresses along the span. With the Gunite cleared, the steel of the bridge's arch ribs will be visible, and crews will use access platforms stationed on the barges to remove Gunite below the bridge deck.

Gunite removal starts next week on the arches under the bridge deck on the Oregon City side and later will move to the West Linn side. The whole process is expected to last about six weeks.

The work on the arches above the deck will start at a later date.

In the news about the project, ODOT is still working to address traffic congestion on West Linn's side of the bridge. The agency recently installed signs indicating that the right lane on Willamette Falls Drive approaching Highway 43 is for local access only to the paper mill and police station. Drivers should not use the paper mill parking lot or Mill Street to turn around or make U-turns, according to ODOT.

With the bridge closed, pedestrians and cyclists continue crossing the river using a free ODOT shuttle service. With the nice weather, shuttle use has grown. After 23 weeks of service, the number of shuttle riders is 13,459, including 1,969 bicyclists.

An average 81 pedestrians are riding on weekdays; the daily average for cyclists is 12.