With plenty of time on your hands, you can scroll through hundreds of pages of government documents such as, for instance, the latest draft of ODOT’s “STIP” for 2024-2027. And if you do, you might find a surprise.
STIP stands for State Transportation Improvement Plan, and it lists all the projects on which the Oregon transportation department intends to spend money in the coming years.
The surprise, for me, was that the plan says the long-neglected Waverly Drive bridge over Cox Creek will finally get replaced.
The bridge carries traffic including trucks to and from the Millersburg yard of the Portland & Western Railroad. It’s also the gateway to Simpson Park and the Talking Water Gardens.
Built in 1957, the bridge has had a weight limit and been restricted to one traffic lane for the last 18 years.
One day in February 2005, the Linn County Road Department posted a weight limit that isolated two or three trucking businesses with their rigs stranded on the north side of the creek. A few days later, the county scraped off a layer of asphalt to lighten the deck and reinforced the bridge with steel pilings. It also raised the weight limit to get those companies back in business.
The railroad is still there, of course, but the other trucking operations are gone. The Water Gardens were built where trucks and trailers used to be parked.
The county eventually handed the bridge over to Millersburg because it’s within that town’s city limits.
The STIP says ODOT plans to spend $500,000 on preliminary engineering in 2024, and $89,000 on acquiring more right-of-way in 2025. Then construction to replace the bridge would take place in 2026 at an estimated cost of $3.9 million.
The plan says the project is “scheduled for construction.” While there is no guarantee that the schedule is firm, it’s good to know this long-neglected bridge is finally on ODOT’s list to be fixed. (hh)