HERMISTON - A crew from NW Crane Service of Hermiston helped city workers replace a bridge Tuesday.

Crane operator Ryan Karlson and rigger Brandon Kellogg worked together to hoist sections of the concrete box culvert from flatbed trucks into the Maxwell Canal at Southeast Ninth Street. The city purchased the box culvert to speed replacement of the bridge, where an inspector discovered a broken beam in January. The city declared the bridge unsafe Jan. 8 and closed the street between Southeast Highland Avenue and Columbia Drive Jan. 9. City crews later removed the damaged bridge.

City Engineer Pat Napolitano said the 4-by-10-foot box culvert arrived in 10 six-foot-wide sections. Karlson lowered each 25,300-pound section into the canal, where city workers wrapped a foam-rubber gasket around the male side, providing a seal when the female side of the next section was fitted into position. City workers used cables and a come-along to draw the culvert sections together tightly.

"This will allow us to get away from bridge inspections," Napolitano said. "With this in place, it'll be considered more of a culvert than a bridge, which will reduce costs in the future."

He estimated the cost of the project at $40,000 and said it's being financed with state funds.

Street Superintendent Ron Sivey said the city expected to grout the joints in the culvert, backfill the canal and resurface Ninth Street next week. The street should reopen to traffic "hopefully, within a couple of weeks," he said.

Napolitano said replacing the damaged bridge with a box culvert isn't saving the city money, but it is saving time.

"It's just a lot quicker and a lot cleaner," he said, adding it would take at least a month longer to build a new bridge.

"We didn't have that time," he said, explaining the city had an April 1 deadline to complete the work. That's the date the Hermiston Irrigation District intends to return water into the canal.

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