More than a year into the construction of Pendleton’s Eighth Street Bridge replacement project, large remains of the old bridge are still at the site.
The project’s contractor — OBEC Consulting Engineers — has torn down the 109-year-old trusses and placed them flat on the bridge service, but they haven’t been moved off the location yet.
The trusses were originally slated to be moved to a nearby city storage yard in the last week of September or the first week of October, but Public Works Director Bob Patterson now expects the trusses will be transported in early December.
Patterson said the delays have been the result of the project’s timing.
OBEC was initially focused on doing some work in the Umatilla River before the water work window ended in October, Patterson said. The contractor has used the ensuing time after October ended considering the logistics of how to move the structures.
Patterson said current plans involve moving the trusses in two halves from Eighth Street to the city’s yard at 1501 S.E. Byers Ave. The most direct route would only span a half mile, but Patterson said the trusses’ 24-foot by 60-foot size means crews will have to transport the structures along the much wider Court Avenue and Court Place before bringing them to the yard.
OBEC has incentive to move the old trusses sooner rather than later. Patterson said the contractor wants to install the bridge’s new trusses over the winter, but it won’t have the space to position the cranes to install the structures until the old trusses are removed.
While the old trusses haven’t been moved, Patterson said bridge workers have done work around them, constructing temporary scaffolding towers that will support the beams as they’re being installed and doing concrete work around the bridge.
Patterson said the contractor hasn’t committed to a firm date on moving the trusses, but it will be required to give the city a one-week notice and obtain a permit from the Oregon Department of Transportation before starting the move.
Although the trusses will be moved months later than expected, Patterson said he still expects the bridge to open in Spring 2019, although it may come later in the season.
For a project that’s been in development since 2013, long-term delays have meant money.
When ODOT and the city of Pendleton received a grant from the federal government to replace the Eighth Street Bridge, the project’s budget was $7.4 million.
But since then, the budget has ballooned by more than 16 percent to $8.6 million.
The bulk of that increase came in October, which ODOT said was coming as a result of higher costs for materials and higher standards for curbs and sidewalks from the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Patterson attributed the rising material costs to a year-long delay in starting construction on the bridge. He pointed to a lengthy coordination process between the city, ODOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, and the Pendleton Downtown Association when the Pendleton Enhancement Project, an informal civic improvement group, expressed interest in acquiring the trusses for a downtown project.
Although the group has since delayed its plans, the trusses will still have to be moved to storage to comply with the state’s historic preservation laws.
The year-long delay not only affected the overall bottom line, but the city’s bottom line as well. ODOT and the city are splitting the costs 90-10, meaning the city’s contribution now stands at $883,594.
In addition to replace a bridge that’s been deemed “structurally deficient” by ODOT, the city has long sought to replace the bridge because it could lead to further development on the north end of town.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.
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