CORVALLIS, Ore. — Enforcement of weight restrictions will be ramping up on the Van Buren Bridge in Corvallis as it nears the end of its lifespan, officials with the Oregon Department of Transportation say.
Work will begin on replacing the bridge, which was built in 1913, in either May or June next year. Construction is expected to last about three years.
The current bridge is one lane, and officials said it bottlenecks traffic, especially during busy times. Those who drive across the bridge have witnessed it firsthand.
“You’ve got three lanes for many blocks funneling down suddenly at the last minute to one lane, and that’s a problem,” said Greg Alpert, who owns Kinetic Bagels just across the street.
Alpert said he’s aware of heavier vehicles crossing the bridge.
“It’s not so much that I can see them, but I can hear them and feel them in my shop,” Alpert said.
Others said they have seen larger vehicles crossing the bridge, despite the 12-ton weight restriction that took effect in March 2021. Starting March 14, ODOT is increasing its enforcement of those restrictions. An ODOT official said crews will be stationed at the end of the bridge on at least two days to stop vehicles they believe exceed the weight and issue citations when necessary.
Officials said penalties depend on how many pounds over the weight limit a vehicle is at the time of crossing.
“If they say it can’t hold them, one thing I have noticed is there’s some potholes on the bridge that are just endlessly needing to be refilled and redone, so I imagine heavy trucks going over it is not helping that,” Alpert said.
Heavier vehicles passing over the bridge are more likely to speed up deterioration of the pavement, according to ODOT. It’s unlikely the current pavement can be replaced because officials said most paving equipment is more than 12 tons.
A detour route is in place for vehicles exceeding the weight limit.
During construction, there are plans to have a detour bridge constructed in the same area, according to ODOT.
The new bridge will have two travel lanes both heading away from Corvallis, bike lanes, and a multi-use path.
As for the current structure, officials said they have not decided what will happen to it yet, but some residents are hopeful it still has a place in Corvallis.
“They say they’re going to keep it,” Alpert said. “They’re going to move it just up river a little bit and kind of keep it as a pedestrian type of destination.”
More information about the bridge replacement project can be found HERE.