Bridge rehabilitation wraps up on Old Siskiyou Highway

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The Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings, two historic bridges located on Old Siskiyou Highway (Oregon 272), reopened to traffic after a summer of much-needed rehabilitation.

Prime contractor West Coast Contractors (of Coos Bay, Oregon) completed most of the work last month. The project included rehabilitating bridge rails, cleaning and repairing cracked walls and spalled (flaking) girders, removing and replacing the road surface and rehabilitating the historic rock walls.

“The bridges look almost brand new,” said ODOT Public Service Representative Dennis Steers. “The rehabilitation project came out beautifully.”

The delicate nature of the project required a full closure on each bridge, an inconvenience for local residents who use the highway to access their homes.

“We really appreciated the patience and support of the neighbors around these bridges,” said Steers. “The detours worked well and the project moved along smoothly.”

Due to the comparatively low traffic volumes on Old Siskiyou Highway, the project didn’t warrant the need for a larger repair or replacement project. According to ODOT Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs, the rehabilitation project won’t change load limits on the Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings.

“The repairs are only designed to maintain their current capacity,” said Grubbs.

Transportation history
The cost to construct the two bridges was shared by the state, Jackson County and the Southern Pacific Railroad.

“Jackson County was proactive in tapping the state’s engineering expertise to design the bridges for consistency and state funding,” said ODOT Historian Christopher Bell. “The State Highway Department was looking for an opportunity to provide technical oversight.”

Built by prime contractor J.W. Sweeney, the Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings have a storied place in Oregon’s transportation history.

Historic Highway Bridges of Oregon, by Dwight A. Smith, James B. Norman, and Pieter T. Tykman, notes the “…[Steinman Overcrossing] is the only known switchback on Oregon’s highway system where the roadway passes both under and over the structure.”

The book states the Dollarhide Overcrossing was built for a cost of $5,900.

According to Bell, a lot of drama was associated with the construction and the project ran into cost overruns ultimately resolved in court. However, the rough start didn’t detour the State Highway Department.

“The Dollarhide and Steinman Overcrossings started the department’s work on U.S. 99. The department was also beginning to focus on another well known roadway, the Columbia River Highway,” Bell said. “From its inception, the state highway department was interested in building a modern road network around Oregon.”

The Bureau of Public Roads, a precursor to the Federal Highway Administration, was concerned about bridge construction. Oregon understood the need and the value, so the department focused on safety and consistency in bridge construction.

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