SCOTTSBURG — A structural analysis of the Scottsburg Bridge found that one of the bridge’s main steel supports was damaged, making the bridge unstable and unable to hold the weight of any traffic.
The bridge was damaged by a semitrailer that crashed on it Wednesday afternoon, forcing the state to shut down Highway 38 through the weekend.
ODOT officials say the bridge is only able to safely support its own weight, and not the additional weight of traffic.
SCOTTSBURG — A crash involving a semitrailer on the Scottsburg Bridge closed Highway 38 Wedn…
In a letter to local legislators and stakeholders, ODOT Region 3 Manager Frank Reading said repairs are estimated to cost more than $300,000. ODOT said it has already awarded an emergency repair contract to Flame On, Inc., of Monroe, Washington, which specializes in heat straightening, the process of straightening damaged steel back into alignment by using heat.
Reading said last year ODOT began a plan to completely replace the bridge, which was built in 1929, and straighten the surrounding road. He said estimates peg the cost of replacement at around $30-40 million, and that depending on funding, construction could begin as early as 2019.
Regardless of the replacement plans, Highway 38 is expected to be closed through this weekend.
“We’re sensitive to the economic impact this closure has on everyone, especially coastal communities that rely on tourism,” Reading wrote.
Darrell Moore, owner of Arlene’s Café and General Store in Elkton, said when the highway closes he looses about 85 percent of his business.
“We’re completely empty,” he said this morning.
The café, similar to most businesses along Highway 38, rely on the steady flow of tourism, logging traffic and daily commuters. With the closure, traffic is being rerouted away from Moore’s business meaning fewer paying customers are walking through the door.
“There will be a loss of product,” he said. “I mean, what can you do.”
At approximately 2 p.m. Wednesday, a semi truck hauling empty wooden pallets crashed through the bridge’s railing, tossing the pallets and the truck’s trailer into the river below. The driver, Sergi Borodin, 26, of Seattle, was trapped, requiring emergency crews to extricate him before transporting him to a local hospital for minor injuries. He was later released, according to the Oregon State Police.
Along with the wooden pallets and the truck’s trailer falling into the river, diesel fuel from the semitrailer spilled into the river, according to police. The Department of Environmental Quality was alerted and is addressing the spill, police said.
When reached for comment, the company that owns the semitrailer declined. In a recorded phone tree message, the company slogan is played for callers: “Thank you for calling ITP Western Express Inc., where the safety comes first.”