Van Buren Bridge on Agenda Again

The city council for Corvallis will be meeting Monday, Oct. 5 at 6:00 p.m., and the issue of the Van Buren Bridge will be on the table again. 

In Dec. 2019, The Advocate wished this century old bridge a sad goodbye, never realizing that nearly a year later it would still be in question as to whether or not the Oregon Department of Transportation would be tearing the structure down. In late Sept. of 2020, Corvallis offered to take ownership of the bridge should ODOT pay for it to be moved.  

ODOT has repeatedly said that there is a budget of $900,000 that can be used to either remove the old bridge through demolition or through moving it further down the river, according to The Democrat-Herald 

ODOT project manager Savannah Crawford confirmed this, saying, “ODOT has only provided the approximate $900,000 figure in reimbursable costs for a new owner to move the bridge and that has not changed.” 

ODOT responded to the city’s request to take ownership, accepting “the general concept of moving the existing bridge” but identifying several issues with the application:  

  1. ODOT requires a revised City proposal identify how the existing bridge will be relocated independent of ODOT’s construction of the new bridge.
  2. ODOT does not agree with the City’s proposal for ODOT and ODOT’s contractor to be responsible for moving the existing bridge. ODOT requires a revised City proposal identify another contractor or option.
  3. The City’s proposal does not contain information for ODOT to evaluate the reasonableness of the costs for the relocation. ODOT requires a revised City proposal to include more details on several areas, such as costs to rehabilitate the center swing span to make it operable, to construct a work bridge for the move, and to make the relocated superstructure seismically resilient.
  4. A statement of willingness to accept ownership of the bridge and all future legal and financial responsibility for the bridge, which may include an agreement to hold ODOT harmless in any liability action. ODOT does not accept the City’s statement of willingness in the proposal as the statement was qualified by the phrase ‘after it [the bridge] is moved to its new location and established as a fully functioning bike and pedestrian bridge connecting the west and eastsides of the Willamette River.’ ODOT requires a revised City proposal that includes a statement of willingness, without qualification, and identified sources of funding for the project from assured sources. 

A Preservation WORKS study estimated it would cost $6 million to move the bridge 175 feet upriver. ODOT is planning to spend $72 million on a replacement bridge.