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North Dakota St. bridge to re-open in August

Temporary fix planned for bridge after closure caused congestion

TIMES PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - North Dakota Street bridge has been closed since June 1 after ODOT discovered rotting support beams. Plans are in the works to re-open the bridge by mid-August.Less than a month after the city of Tigard announced it would shut down a popular bridge due to safety concerns, city planners are devising a plan to re-open it.

Since June 1, the bridge over Fanno Creek on Southwest North Dakota Street has been closed to vehicles after the Oregon Department of Transportation told the city that the bridge was in poor condition.

Built in 1962, the bridge crosses Fanno Creek between Southwest Tiedeman and 105th avenues. According to ODOT, timbers supporting the bridge were rotting from the inside. Faha said that the city has been scrambling to come up with a solution since ODOT notified it of the issue.

City leaders said that the bridge would be closed indefinitely while it searched for a solution, but city planners are hoping to have the bridge open this summer after its closure caused snarling traffic problems in the area.

The North Dakota bridge served about 4,000 cars a day, according to city officials; those cars have been diverted to nearby Tigard Street.

“We have drastically increased the impact onto Tigard Street,” Faha said.

Since the closure, Tiedeman Avenue is commonly backed up to Highway 217 during rush hour as cars make their way through the system.

“The intersection of Tigard Street and Tiedeman was at capacity before the bridge’s closure,” Faha said. “This pushed it over the top. We hear from people who say ‘I’ve been stuck at the light at Greenburg Road for 20 minutes.’”

Residents in the area haven’t taken the problem lightly. Faha said she has received calls and emails from upset neighbors and motorists, calling for the bridge to be re-opened as soon as possible.

Temporary solution found?

Faha said that over the next six weeks, crews will replace the rotten timbers with steel. That will provide a temporary fix.

“If everything works as planned, we will do that work in July,” Faha said. “That will last us a few years.”

The North Dakota Street bridge should re-open in mid-August, Faha said.

Crews will install a walkway to the interim bridge. Walkers and joggers have complained for years that the narrow bridge can be dangerous to cross with speeding cars racing past.

City Councilor Marland Henderson said that whatever changes are made to the bridge, making it accessible to walkers is a must.

“Safety on that bridge isn’t a new subject; it has been going on for years,” Henderson said. “We hear about it weekly. That has to happen.”

Those modifications are expected to cost less than $80,000. Brian Rager, the head of the city’s public works department, said that the department will use existing budget dollars to pay for the improvements.

“We are squeezing everything to scrape that together and get it done quickly,” Rager said.

But that fix will only delay the inevitable, Faha said. The road needs a new bridge and the city plans to apply for state grants that would help pay for a complete rebuild in a few years.

A new bridge would cost the city about $2.8 million. The grant funding wouldn’t become available until 2018, should Tigard receive it.

“That will provide a functional, long-term bridge,” Faha said.

Other bridges need examined

But fixing the North Dakota bridge may not solve all of the city’s bridge problems.

Tigard Street also has a bridge over Fanno Creek. It was built the same year as the bridge on North Dakota bridge and is also made of wood.

So far, Rager said, that bridge hasn’t shown the amount of decay as the bridge on North Dakota, but it won’t last forever.

“It’s the same design, and in the same type of environment, I’d expect it to go bad in the next five to 10 years,” Rager said.

“We’re thinking long-term about all of our bridges,” Rager said. The city is planning to inspect every bridge across town to determine their conditions.

“These aren’t the only two bridges that are going to wear out,” Rager said.

By Geoff Pursinger
email: gpursinger@commnewspapers.com
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