Ahead of schedule

Crews will finish repairing the Water Street bridge Friday, eliminating its structurally deficient status and reopening traffic lanes before the tourism season is in full swing, the Oregon Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

Contractor Wildish Standard Paving will finish the $270,000 project more than a week before the May 15 scheduled end date, said ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming.

Crews are working to finish repaving the bridge and paint traffic lines today before reopening Lithia Way to two lanes, he said.

"I just appreciate everyone's patience as far as merchants and drivers downtown with the work," Leaming said. "When you're working on bridges or roads, the work is always necessary."

Before work on the bridge began, some neighbors and business owners had expressed concern about traffic delays and noise associated with the project, but ODOT received only one complaint during the repair, regarding the relocation of a bus stop, he said.

"I think the project went fairly well," Leaming said. "It only took about seven weeks and I think everybody accepted the fact that the work needed to be done."

Wildish has sealed cracks in the bridge with epoxy and has reinforced the deck with steel pins.

An ODOT inspection team discovered the bridge was structurally deficient last summer. Built over Ashland Creek in 1956, the bridge had cracks in its deck and support structure, but posed no immediate danger to vehicles, Leaming said.

The repairs are expected to last for 10 to 20 years, he said.

"This repair project has brought the bridge back to some semblance of what it used to be," he said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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