Bridge inspectors got up close and personal with the Stewart Park Drive bridge Wednesday, searching for any potential structural issues with the narrow, green steel structure built in 1946.

A crew from the Oregon Bridge Engineering Company, based in Eugene, was in place at 8 a.m. Wednesday to begin the inspection.

But questions about the load limit for the inconic bridge delayed the inspection about two hours.

When the inspectors discovered the load limit on the bridge was 12 tons and the Oregon Department of Transportation cherry-picker truck was rated for 68,000 pounds, they had to check with engineers at ODOT in Salem to see if it was safe to take the truck onto the bridge. At about 10 a.m., they finally were able to begin their work.

The Oregon Bridge Engineering Company inspects the state’s bridges every two years on behalf of ODOT, using ODOT equipment to examine the underside of the structure and the pillars to see if there has been any deterioration.

“Every other year, they do this, they go through and check the condition of the bridge and document it for all the bridges in town,” said Rick Castle, engineer technician for the City of Roseburg.

Roseburg Public Works Director Nikki Messenger said ODOT does the inspections every couple of years for all the local bridges in the state to make sure they’re safe.

“They will take a look at the structural sufficiency to make sure there’s not a ton of scour going on in the river, and things like that, they want to make sure they don’t need to lower the amount of weight that can cross it,” Messenger said.

The 73-year-old, two-lane structure, which is barely wide enough to accommodate passing vehicles, is scheduled for an overhaul in 2022.

“For the green bridge, we actually got a grant from ODOT recently to rehabilitate, but that’s not until 2022, when the money will come through,” Messenger said.

Meanwhile, the bridge was closed most of the day Wednesday as the crew looked for any problems. Traffic had to find an alternate route around Stewart Park Drive, which crosses the South Umpqua River just north of the Fir Grove School into the south entrance to the VA Medical Center.

After the inspection, ODOT will put together a report with any recommendations and send it to the city to determine if it needs to take any action.

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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