While not many motorists know the Tolo Bridge by name, the steep overpass that spans Interstate 5 between Central Point and Gold Hill is instantly recognizable to Rogue Valley motorists if for no other reason than its plain, some might say ugly, aesthetic quality.
This summer, the 58-year-old bridge will undergo a facelift that won’t improve its beauty but will strengthen the bridge for many more decades of use. The interior girders and cross beams will be repaired; cracks will be injected with epoxy-based glue; the deck will be tied to the bridge; vertical supports will be wrapped with fiber reinforced polymer; and the rails will be retrofitted to meet today’s safety standards.
The treatment will be similar to the repair work on Ashland’s Water Street Bridge in 2011.
The repair work will require closing Tolo Bridge for a six-week period this summer that requires nearby residents to use a detour. The work will also affect Interstate 5 traffic at night.
The project will also pave a five-mile section of I-5 from Rock Point (exit 43) and the Evans Creek Bridge to just north of Rogue River (milepost 48).
The existing open-graded pavement mix will be replaced with a dense grade of asphalt. The open-graded pavement will be ground off and traffic will travel over the tightly ground surface before it is repaved.
“This process will give our inspectors an opportunity to identify where the roadbed is failing,” said ODOT Project Leader Mark Leedom, “and make the appropriate repairs before I-5 gets a new surface.”
The grinding work is scheduled to take place one lane at a time, so motorists will need to be alert and avoid the abrupt edge until the paving is complete. Additionally, Oregon State Parks and Recreation provided funding to the project to repave roads in and around the Valley of the Rogue State Park and the rest area.