Motorists in Douglas County will find several highway projects this summer that could have impacts on travel with speed restrictions and some occasional lane closures.
Dan Latham, an Oregon Department of Transportation spokesperson in Roseburg, said there are some paving projects in the county to watch out for and also a major bridge replacement that motorists should be aware of.
The Scottsburg Bridge Replacement Project over the Umpqua River about 19 miles west of Elkton on Highway 38, will replace the 90-year-old bridge, that has been damaged several times over the years from truck accidents. The new bridge will have a wider roadway and reduce the curves on both ends of the bridge.
The contractor, Hamilton Construction, has been working on the project since February when it began clearing out trees and brush and building some access roads to make way for the construction of the new bridge, which will be about 1,280 feet long.
Latham said the old bridge will be open to traffic until the new bridge is completed.
“Recently the work has focused on building work platforms from the north bank and south bank toward the center,” Latham said. “That’s where the workers will build the new bridge located between the existing one and the work platform.”
Latham said there will likely be times when work is being done and traffic will be reduced down to one lane with a flagger.
“But the highway will always be open,” Latham said.
The total project is estimated at $42.8 million and the new bridge is scheduled to be opened to traffic by the spring of 2022. All work, including the removal of the old bridge, is scheduled to be completed by August 31, 2022.
Hamilton Construction is also the contractor on the freeway paving project. Crews have been paving Interstate 5 from the milepost 136 interchange at Sutherlin to the Garden Valley interchange in Roseburg.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work on northbound paving,” Latham said. “We’re also replacing guard rail and repaving parts of some of the ramps in the area.”
Latham said the project has focused on the northbound lanes for about 1½ months and soon will switch over to the southbound lanes. Motorists will need to be aware of construction activity and possibly some lane closures.
“During the height of COVID-19, we had less traffic on the road so we extended the hours a little longer so they could start earlier in the evening and continue later into the day,” Latham said. “But it is nighttime work, and I-5 will be down to a single lane while they’re paving, guardrails and other work.”
The Roberts Mountain project on Interstate 5 south of the Highway 42 exit includes climbing lanes for trucks on the north and south side of the pass and work will continue until about June of 2021. The excavation to build the climbing lanes is continuing this summer and after that is done, Latham said crews will come back in the spring to do the final paving. Part of the project also includes paving from Roberts Mountain to milepost 113 about 4 miles south of the mountain.
Meanwhile, motorists will still find reduced speed through the construction area on Roberts Mountain. Some of the shoulders are closed and trucks are required to stay in the right lane so they don’t block traffic in both lanes.
“Since the shoulder is closed, you have the slow trucks in the right lane and only the left lane available for vehicles going normal highway speed,” Latham said. “So that is one thing people need to watch for: Slow-moving vehicles in that area.”
Latham said ODOT has begun working with Douglas County on the design phase to replace the historic bridge over Calapooya Creek on Highway 99 at the north end of Oakland.
The bridge was built in 1925 and as part of the design process, ODOT wants to document the history of the bridge.
“One of the things I’m working on is the historic aspect,” Latham said. “We’re going to reach out to the community to try to collect some historic information about the bridge.”
Latham wants people to share personal memories, historical information, or pictures of the bridge.
Under normal circumstances, he said, an open house would be scheduled, but because of COVID-19 restriction that’s not possible.
If you have a story to tell about the Oakland Bridge, call 541-817-5200 or send a letter to Dan Latham, Oregon Department of Transportation, 3500 NW Stewart Parkway, Roseburg, OR 97470.