Change in port bridge inspections saves money


News staff writer

September 6, 2006

New federal regulations requiring that states take responsibility for all bridge inspections within their boundaries will save money for both ports at Cascade Locks and Hood River.

Port of Hood River commissioners have the intergovernmental agreement on their agenda Tuesday evening. Port of Cascade Locks commissioners approved their agreement Aug. 17. Both agreements last for 10 years.

Port of Cascade Locks Finance Manager Pat Albaugh said the situation ended up being a win-win for both entities. He said the port maintains control of the bridge but has the savings of $30,000 to $45,000 a year.

“When we were contacted in March we were fearful at first because of the issue of control over our bridge, but the project is basically creating a huge bridge inventory nationwide — that’s the purpose of it,” he said.

The agreement is expected to save $100,000 for the Port of Hood River. Both ports have always conducted inspections of their bridges. Port of Hood River Finance Manager Linda Shames said when she attended an ODOT workshop she was told they were ahead of the game from many other municipalities that have bridges.

The mandate came down as part of National Bridge Inspection Standards and pertains to all bridges, 20 feet or longer, on a public road. The change for the Oregon Department of Transportation is that the new rule covers any bridge within the state whether publicly or privately owned. The agency has always inspected public bridges, but not private ones.

“Some examples are the ports’ bridges but also ones belonging to Tri-Met or the University of Oregon in Eugene,” said Gary Bowling, a structural engineer for ODOT.

The inspections examine the structures above and below the water to determine the load rating. Bowling said inspections cover structural capacity and functionality.

“It’s based on the width of the bridge versus average daily traffic,” he said. “That’s used to calculate a sufficiency rating, which we use to get federal dollars appropriated to the state of Oregon.”

Bowling said the estimate is that the federal money will offset the cost of ODOT taking over the inspections.

The state agency has been pushing to complete paperwork this summer because both of the bridges require inspections this year. Bowling said the fall weather is a factor behind their timeline -- “Because winter in the Gorge is not a good time to be climbing around on those structures,” he said.

An ODOT dive team will do the below-water inspection while Burgess and Niple are the subcontractors for the above-water portion. Bowling said due to the narrow width of the spans, the bridges will not be closed for the inspections for safety. The subcontractor uses rock-climbing equipment to accomplish the task.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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