City Applies for Ownership of Van Buren Bridge

Preservation WORKS released news yesterday of an application made by the city of Corvallis to the Oregon Department of Transportation to assume ownership of the historic Van Buren Bridge. The ownership change would occur after ODOT moves the bridge 175 feet upriver, for designated bike and pedestrian use.  

After a council vote on Aug. 17, Preservation WORKS worked alongside City Manager Mark Shepard to draft and complete the application and submitted it by email on Aug. 27. Hard copies of the documents were submitted Monday, Aug. 31.   

Repurposing the bridge would connect the Highway 34 and Riverside Bike routes to Corvallis, allowing commuters better access to the city. While cyclists could potentially use the new highway bridge, a recreational path would increase safety and give access to the area to people of all abilities, including those in wheelchairs, walkers, and those with strollers.  

At the Aug. 17 vote, the city council set a condition that required ODOT to confirm that no obligation is created by applying for the purchase, and this condition was met. The negotiation window has now been extended to March 31, 2021. The action taken by the city was made possible by an engineering study that confirmed there is a “prudent and feasible alternative to demolishing the bridge.”   

The study was paid for by private citizens and estimated that the cost to move it would be around $6 million.   

“Moving the bridge upstream was part of ODOT’s funding proposal to the 2017 legislature,” said Roz Keeney, Preservation WORKS vice president, in a press release. “ODOT must pay for the move and work needed to make it functional as proposed in that legislative request.” 

 The press release said now that now that the application has been filed, ODOT will be required to do a thorough version of the 4(f) review and must consider this option, and also said that contractor DOWL only considered a downstream move for a detour bridge and not the upstream alternative proposed in 2017.  

Preservation WORKS is putting together a task force to create a long-term plan that includes strategies for maintenance work and realistic costs. For additional information you can visit the Preservation WORKS website.  

Kyra Blank