ODOT launched its $5.3 million rehabilitation project in Grants Pass last month with a stated goal to return Caveman Bridge to its original glory.
The rehabilitation project is the first major upgrade of the Caveman Bridge since its construction in 1931. Designed by famed Oregon bridge designer Conde McCullough, the bridge is a critical link in Grants Pass, spanning the Rogue River.
Caveman Bridge serves as the gateway to the Redwood Empire of southwest Oregon and northern California. The historic gateway sign on the north side of the bridge will also undergo rehabilitation by the city of Grants Pass.
Prime contractor HP Civil Inc. of Stayton has established a work area on the south end of the bridge as well as a work bridge under the 86-year-old historic structure. The work bridge provides access to the underside of the concrete bridge for the first phase of the rehabilitation project.
For the remainder of this year, the contractor will repair any exposed steel in the concrete beneath the bridge. To strengthen the structure, construction workers will inject the cracks with epoxy as well as install titanium pins. The bridge will also receive a thorough washing.
“The contractor’s schedule has them below the bridge through the winter and then atop the structure in early 2018,” said ODOT Project Manager Tim Fletcher. “The community will begin to experience single-lane night closures and the beginning of full-night closures when the rehabilitation work transitions from under the bridge.”
Construction work that affects traffic will involve single-lane night closures from
7 p.m. to 7 a.m. A total of 12 full-night closures, from 9 p.m. until 6:30 a.m., will be scheduled as needed during the two-year project. Special project provisions scheduled no-work weekends to avoid conflicts with annual celebrations and other key community events.
The city of Grants Pass, Chamber of Commerce and adjacent businesses partnered with ODOT in project development. Information collected from that collaboration in addition to traffic data collected by ODOT showed that any construction-related lane closures would quickly cause traffic — nearly 19,000 vehicles daily — to back up through the city.
A March open house showcased the needed bridge improvements and detailed construction impacts to traffic and nearby businesses. An outstanding turnout by the community included a special appearance by the famed Oregon Caveman Club of Grants Pass, a boisterous group of civic boosters formed in 1922.
“Caveman Bridge is an important connection for the city and its identity,” said Colene Martin, President-CEO of the Grants Pass and Josephine County Chamber of Commerce. “We know it will take some time to complete and have some impacts but in the end, it will all be worth it.”
• Repair sections of cracked concrete, exposed rebar and failed joints along the nearly 550-foot structure.
• Pressure wash the bridge and recapture all water.
• Repair bridge deck delamination by grinding off the existing asphalt cap and replacing it with a stronger, premixed polymer concrete.
• Replace the bridge rail, maintaining its unique aesthetic while meeting today’s safety standards.
• Add new lighting that maintains the character of the bridge’s street lights.
New lighting will mirror the bridge’s existing historic lamps. The city of Grants Pass is funding the addition of four additional lights for a total of eight on the bridge. The old decorative rail will be cut from the bridge. Those sections that are intact afterward will be available for sale to the public by HP Civil Inc.