Bridge painting proceeds, toll increase on deck

September 10, 2011

News of the Hood River Bridge is on two levels.

Under the deck, painting and repair work continues.

On deck: a proposed fare increase.

The $2.1 million paint project is on schedule and steel inspections indicate excellent structural integrity, the project inspector told the Port Commission Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the commission adopted a timeline Tuesday for a potential bridge fare increase, likely to $1 at the tollbooth and 75 cents via BreezeBy.

In the Sept. 20 meeting, the commission will discuss long-range plans for maintaining the bridge and how the fare increase supports those goals, and accept public comment on the proposed increase, according to Mike Doke, marketing director.

At its following meeting, Oct. 4, the commission could take action, or postpone the decision, but Doke said port staff will encourage a decision as early as possible to give plenty of time for agencies, businesses and individuals who use the bridge on a regular basis to plan their budgets based on the fare hike.

Commission president Jon Davies said Tuesday, "It is incumbent on those of us on the commission to reach out to constituents and user groups to explain why the toll increase is needed."

Bridge users can expect delays this fall as painting continues in dust-containment areas underneath the deck.

"The steel is in excellent shape," said Rick Bear of Bear Inspection and Consulting.

Workers are progressing toward the middle of the bridge span, as a way to reduce traffic delays on the Oregon side, according to Bear.

Work will continue this fall as long as weather permits; any significant moisture on the bridge will require suspenson of work until spring, Bear said. (Scheduled completion of the painting is summer 2012.)

The Port Commission on Tuesday approved an additional $370,000 contract with S and K Painting so that crews can blast and paint lower portions of the bridge. The current work focuses directly under the vehicle deck, on metal pieces including beams, stringers and parts known as "chords" which run the length of the bridge.

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