IDLEYLD PARK — Construction crews were unable to swing into place a 297-foot-long footbridge across the North Umpqua River on Tuesday because of weighty issues.
The heft of the prefabricated bridge proved too much for a crane that, at the correct angle, can lift as much as 500 tons.
Workers had to disassemble parts of the prefabricated bridge and bring in more concrete blocks to hold down the crane as it places the bridge.
“They needed to reduce some of the weight, so they took some of the beams off the bridge,” Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Latham said.
Workers hoped to put the bridge in place today, he said.
The pedestrian bridge will sit on pillars left over from the 1964 flood that washed away the Young’s Bay Bridge.
The $2 million project will allow pedestrians, bicyclists and horses to access the Tioga segment of the North Umpqua Trail from the Susan Creek Day Use Area 28 miles east of Roseburg. The section of the trail now requires a hike just to reach.
Because of the bridge project, the North Umpqua River between the Susan Creek launch and Baker Wayside is closed to rafters. Motorists traveling Highway 138 East faced delays of up to 20 minutes.
The bridge will make it much easier to reach the middle section of the Tioga segment, said Gregg Morgan, a Bureau of Land Management recreation planner.
He estimated that 600 people hike the segment every year, but the new bridge will increase that number to 1,850 hikers. “It opens up a whole new side of the river,” Morgan said.
“Even though you’re right across from the highway, you feel more isolated and in the forest,” Morgan said. “It provides a new opportunity for recreation users.”
The footbridge, made of Douglas fir, was built by Western Wood Structures of Tualatin. Timber Mountain Construction of Grants Pass is putting the bridge in place.
The project was pushed back a week because of a delay in placing the crane. ODOT project manager Ted Paselk said he wasn’t worried about the delays.
“It’s not going to impact the project very much,” he said. “It’s not a significant setback.”
The project is expected to conclude by late September or early October. Latham is confident the bridge will be done on time.
“You don’t have 500 ton cranes in every little town, and sometimes it takes a while to get here. There are no real delays, I mean. we’re talking artificial delays,” he said. “In terms of the contract, it doesn’t matter whether they swing the bridge into place the first week of August or first week of September, so long as they complete the contract on time.”
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org