A new study of 355 cracked concrete bridges set for repair under Oregon’s $1.3-billion construction program shows that many of the bridges are in better shape than first thought.

Although the state still has a big challenge, "it gives us a little relief," says Bruce Johnson, chief bridge engineer for the Oregon Dept. of Transportation. A number of bridges that were to be replaced can now be repaired instead. ODOT will also allow heavier trucks to travel the roads during repairs.

A 2003 study of the state’s 555 bridges built with reinforced concrete deck girders found that 487 had developed cracks. The bridges were built in the 1950s when standards required less shear reinforcement, Johnson says. Now, especially with heavier truck traffic, the cracks have grown to the point of needing repair.

ODOT hired Oregon Bridge Delivery Partners, a joint venture of Fluor Corp, Aliso Viejo, Calif, and HDR Inc., Omaha, in April to manage the infrastructure program, the state’s largest since World War II. The two firms managed a similar program in South Carolina.


One of the challenges is to structure the work to stimulate Oregon’s economy, says Jason Neil, joint venture program integration manager. While limiting competition is illegal, it was possible to structure the contracts so that small to mid-size Oregon contractors and consultants could compete for the work, Neil says.

Bridge design and construction projects are bundled into packages ranging from about $5 million to $50 million, which allows a variety of firms to compete, he says. Factors such as location and mobility are considered when putting the packages together.

All design work will be subcontracted out and managed by the Fluor-HDR team, which will perform most of the construction and engineering inspection to manage the risk appropriately.

Work has started on 27 bridges, with a priority on developing alternative routes for freight. The first projects are on north-south and east-west secondary routes that trucks can use when work starts on the Interstate system, Neil says. Context-sensitive design and sustainability also are key program elements, he adds.