Ever notice our Oregon state highways? No, of course you don’t, because you and all of the rest of us take them for granted. We take them for granted because they cause us no trouble. And the reason they work as well as they do most of the time is that the highway division of ODOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation, stays on top of maintenance and keeps them in good shape.
The pavement on I-5 is the best example. But secondary highways too are easy to navigate because they are resurfaced when they need it, and sometimes even straightened out as on Highway 20 at Eddyville. Bridges get the same attention. On the coast, for instance, the Alsea Bay Bridge is getting a $2.5 million paint job this year to preserve it. The bridge itself was completed in 1991 at a cost of $42.4 million after just three years of construction. With prudent foresight, it was built well before the picturesque and well-loved 1936 crossing would have become unusable because of damage from the elements.
On the coast, bridges require maintenance more often than inland because of the corrosive effects of sea air. At Alsea Bay now, in addition to painting the arches and other parts of the bridge, the contractor is building a new walkway under the deck to make routine inspections easier. We’re paying for this and many other current highway projects with our fuel taxes and motor vehicle fees. As the customary signs remind us, this is one part of life where it’s easy to see our taxes at work — and doing a good job. (hh)