The struggle for a deal to replace the decaying Eighth Street Bridge in Pendleton came to an end Thursday.
Umatilla County and the city of Pendleton are co-owners of the bridge that spans the Umatilla River. The county board of commissioners Thursday morning voted 3-0 on a deal that eventually will grant the city of Pendleton sole ownership of the bridge, as well as have the city take over more than 10 miles of county roads that are inside the citys limits.
The county also agreed to pay Pendleton $75,000 a year for five years from funds for pedestrian and bicycle paths to cover half of the local match for a $7.42 million grant the city received to replace the 104-year-old bridge, which last had an upgrade in 1955.
Umatilla County counsel Doug Olsen said the city will own the bridge once the county makes the final payment.
County road department director Tom Fellows said I think it's a fine deal that allows the county to focus on farm market roads and others that serve county purposes.
The Pendleton City Council approved the deal last week 5-3, with dissenters concerned about the cost of the city taking over the roads.
The city and county began discussions about the bridge in 2013. Commissioner George Murdock said it took a while to find common ground, but this deal benefits both the county and the city. He also said it is county policy to transfer ownership of county roads within city boundaries to those cities. That's significant, he said, given Umatilla County has more roads than any other county in Oregon.
In other road business, Fellows said the road department completed the closure of Ott Road, near Hermiston, at a dangerous railroad crossing. Fellows said Union Pacific Railroad has yet to remove the crossing gate at Ott Road, but county workers placed boulders to block access to the tracks. He also said crews installed guardrails at the Canal Road crossing, which still lacks crossing arms.
Union Pacific has been difficult to communicate with, Fellows said, so he relies on information from the railroad division of the Oregon Department of Transportation. He said the work at both crossings should wrap up by September.