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City expects bridge work to be complete by Thanksgiving


by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - This roundabout on Boeckman Road is being reconfigured to allow farm vehicles easier access to the street. It's part of a stretch of road closed to allow reconstruction of the Boeckman Bridge. The Boeckman Bridge reconstruction is quietly chugging along on schedule, and motorists could finally be allowed back on the structure as early as Thanksgiving.

According to a recent report given to the Wilsonville City Council, work is proceeding apace using a variety of creative methods to help prevent the bridge from once again sinking into the damp soil of the Coffee Creek wetland.

“If we wanted the most foolproof bridge possible, we would have built a really long bridge on pilings,” Wilsonville Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar said at the Sept. 16 city council work session. “But that would have been extremely expensive.”

That’s likely true, given the significant difference in design, engineering and construction costs of such a structure. And considering the additional $1.2 million the city is spending on bridge repairs it’s also tempting to look back in time and say, ‘What if?’

Fortunately, that money is coming from the contractor responsible for the original construction, which was completed in 2008 at a cost of more than $17 million.

Designed to connect Boeckman Road with Tooze Road and provide another east-west arterial route across Interstate 5, the bridge almost immediately started settling into softer-than-expected soil.

After carrying out several temporary repairs, the city filed a lawsuit in 2010 against HDR Engineering, the company hired to design and engineer the bridge and roadway. The company settled with the city in September 2011 for roughly $980,000, money that is now being spent on repairs.

In the past two years, work has mainly consisted of placing gravel on the roadway in an attempt to help the roadbed settle more firmly into the soil. At the same time, the city has spent roughly $664,000 in the past two years on design, engineering and related costs.

Now, the city hopes to finish construction work by Thanksgiving, bringing the total cost of repairs to just more than $2 million. The redesign has cost just more than $334,000, while the cost of the construction work itself is budgeted at $980,000.

“Right now, we’re looking at mid- to late November,” said Steve Adams, the city’s development engineering manager.

Adams said crews from Woodburn firm Kerr Contractors currently are placing a layer of lightweight fill across the roadbed. Intended to keep the ramp from settling, the material used is applied while wet and then dries into a solid, but light substance resembling volcanic pumice.

Rebar also is being placed in concrete slabs installed on approach ramps on each side of the bridge, while a roundabout on the west side of the bridge is being reconfigured to allow large tractors and farm vehicles to turn safely from 110th Avenue to Tooze Road and vice versa.

“It’s holding true to the schedule we put together in August,” Adams said.