It’s one of many bridges in southern Oregon set for improvements
It’s been almost 100 years since the Oakland Bridge began carrying traffic over Calapooya Creek in southern Oregon; in human years, that’s way overdue for retirement. The much-loved icon, built in 1925, will soon be replaced by a modern bridge that includes two travel lanes for vehicles and shoulders for people who walk and roll.
That’s more than you can say about the current bridge, which has a very narrow deck and is currently limited to a single lane with traffic controlled by a signal at each end.
Construction began on the historic bridge in February. Located on Old Highway 99E (NE 1st Street) just north of Oakland, the bridge will continue to carry limited traffic while the Oregon Department of Transportation’s contractor, Farline Bridge, Inc., builds the new bridge next to the old structure.
The Oakland Bridge replacement is part of a $22.6 million two-project bundle that will also replace the Conn-Ford (Melrose) Bridge west of Roseburg. Construction on the Melrose project will begin in March and continue for two years.
ODOT’s Highway Region 3 team is partnering with Douglas County and U.S. DOT on the two-year Oakland Bridge project. The county received funding from the federal government’s Competitive Highway Bridge Program, which is a part of the 2019/20 Moving Forward Act, for the two-bridge bundle.
Safety and efficiency are priorities
Improvements to bridges, including repairing, strengthening and replacing (as needed), are part of a building a modern transportation system, a priority in ODOT’s Strategic Action Plan. Southern Oregon has several bridges under construction this year, including seismic repairs on eight bridges; these improvements are funded by Keep Oregon Moving, the historic transportation funding bill from the 2017 Oregon Legislature.
During construction on the Oakland Bridge, travelers should watch for signs and flaggers; however, most of the time, motorists can expect minimum disruptions in the area, where traffic is already slowed for the old bridge.
“The vast majority of the bridges in Douglas County were built in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Oakland Bridge is much, much older than that!” said County Commissioner Tom Kress in a press release announcing the project kickoff. “Most of our bridges have a lifespan that has already been far exceeded. We were elated to receive this grant and be able to supplement this project with county funding.”