A 90-day, in-water work deadline for the Applegate River Bridge replacement project ends on Sept. 15. The deadline looms large for prime contractor Carter and Company of Salem as construction focuses on building a temporary structure just north of the existing bridge on U.S. 199.
Traffic shifted over to the temporary structure during the second week of August, which allows the crew to focus on demolishing the 58-year-old Applegate River Bridge, located eight miles west of Grants Pass.
“Carter and Company has worked at a breakneck pace to meet the in-water deadline,” said ODOT Project Manager Ted Paselk.
The in-water work permit spans June to September because anadromous fish runs typically don’t spawn during summer months. During this period, the contractor can demolish the old bridge and drill supports for the structure.
According to Paselk, extra care will be taken when demolition begins on the old bridge. Post tension cables, installed during a 2001 repair project, have 170,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. Each cable must be carefully released.
“When a cable goes, it sounds like a broken piano string,” said Paselk.
Construction began last April. Motorists had to contend with traffic delays as fill materials were brought in and compacted for the temporary bridge approaches and supports. The Redwood Highway speed limit in the work zone was reduced to 40 mph.
“The key is to limit the impact to traffic,” said ODOT Project Information Specialist Dan Latham. “Constructing a temporary bridge allows us to keep traffic moving.”
The $5.9 million replacement project will use pre-stressed concrete beams on the new Applegate River Bridge. Nearly 50 feet wide, the new bridge will feature two 12-foot travel lanes with two 10-foot shoulders.
“The new railings will meet today’s safety standards and, unlike the existing bridge that has six supports in the river channel, the new structure will only have two,” said ODOT Lead Bridge Engineer Bob Grubbs.
Additionally, the new bridge will be slightly wider on the west end to accommodate a new turn lane at Riverbanks Road.
“The Applegate River Bridge is a vital connection between Interstate 5, the Illinois Valley, northern California and the Oregon coast” Latham said.
When the existing bridge was built in 1955, about 2,000 vehicles crossed the 547-foot span daily. By 2011, the number of vehicles had increased to 10,300 per day. The bridge’s narrow 30-foot roadway and bridge rails do not meet today’s safety standards.