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Winter weather complicates bridge installation

Flooding of Milton Creek in December identified areas of concern with bridge

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - The pedestrian bridge at McCormick Park was fabricated and delivered to the park in November. Due to unforeseen weather complications, the installation of the bridge over Milton Creek has been delayed until city staff can determine how to build up the creek's banks to install the bridge.The installation of a pedestrian bridge in St. Helens’ McCormick Park has been temporarily delayed after severe weather in December highlighted potential installation problems.

The city of St. Helens received a $43,300 grant in the October 2014 through Oregon Parks and Recreation to purchase a pedestrian bridge that would be installed over Milton Creek near the campsite area of the park. As a condition of the grant, the city is required to contribute a percentage of funding towards the project or in-kind work.

The total cost of the project is currently budgeted for $69,800.

While the pedestrian bridge was delivered to the park in November, severe rainfall and extensive flooding in early December complicated the process. The banks of Milton Creek reached flood stage during a storm on Tuesday, Dec. 8, with waters rising high enough to partially and fully submerge some park benches and picnic tables in the park.

Assistant City Planner Jennifer Dimsho said an environmental study completed last year was used to determine the best location for the bridge based on the creek’s seasonal levels. Dimsho said the survey identified areas of the shore that would likely not flood, even during periods of heavy rainfall, such as the 100-year flood. In December, however, the creek level rose beyond the high-water levels identified in the study.

“We’re kind of back to the drawing board in terms of where to put the bridge,” Dimsho said.

Sue Nelson, public works engineering director, and Dimsho said the bridge will likely be installed in the initially proposed location, which is just downriver of the park’s camping spaces, but the banks will likely need to be built up on the south side to accommodate the bridge.

While the bridge may be lying in the parking lot of the park, Dimsho said the bridge is designed to withstand weather and environmental wear, meaning it isn’t in harm’s way. Nelson said the goal is to install the bridge by spring.