Most motorists don’t realize it, but the Interstate 5 bridge over the South Umpqua River between the Harvard Avenue and Garden Valley interchange in Roseburg has been getting a major facelift since May 2018.

For pedestrians and bicyclists walking beneath the bridge, the activity from the $9,6 million project is much more apparent. Canvases surround the entire truss under the bridge to prevent anything from falling into the river and the surrounding area.

The project includes removing the old lead paint and re-coating the steel truss, repairing or replacing the bridge bearings and joints, resurfacing the deck and sealing cracks in the concrete. ODOT officials say some minor work is being done to strengthen the structure to better withstand earthquakes.

Dan Latham, the project information specialist for the Oregon Department of Transportation in Roseburg, said the 18-month project is on track to be finished this September.

“Last year as part of the project, we had done some work on the deck repairing spots of bad concrete,” Latham said. “Now the contractors are painting the steel truss in four sections, and they’re at about the midway point.”

Pedestrians and bike riders should be aware of the construction activity when when using the walkway between Roseburg High School and Gaddis Park as construction continues on the bridge, which is known as Vets Bridge.

A steel enclosure has been inserted over the walkway that goes under the bridge and will remain open most of the time as the project continues.

“They do provide a sort of a tunnel for the pedestrians so that people can get through it,” Latham said. “They need that to keep paint or anything else from falling into the river.”

Prime contractor installed a work enclosure around the truss

A staging area is located next to Gaddis Park at the north end of the bridge. Access to this area is restricted to the contractor and authorized staff.

F.D. Thomas of Central Point is the general contractor for the project.

Construction is scheduled for weekdays. Nearby residents should expect noise consistent with bridge work. But for motorists, there should be little impact.

The project is paid for by funds from the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

Vets Bridge was built in 1955.

In the 1970s, the bridge was widened to accommodate more traffic lanes and provide a walkway below the main deck.

For more information: www.RoseburgVetsBridge.com.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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