Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Construction begins next week on the Bridge of the Gods and will require the bridge to be closed to traffic as crews work around the clock to repair the aging structure and allow heavy trucks to cross the span once again.
Port of Cascade Locks Interim General Manager Paul Koch said work will begin on Friday, Oct. 11 to repair or replace the gussets (connecting pieces) of the main span and Oct. 31 for the stringers (support beams). The work will require the Bridge of the Gods to be closed seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. until the project’s completion, which is expected to be at the end of the year, although Koch noted that there was “some chance that weather or any construction delays might push that into mid-January 2014.” He added that “emergency vehicles will be able to cross the bridge at all times during the repair work” and that the port is “developing a plan to extend the time limit on passes and coupons so that regular users are not harmed.”
The Oregon Department of Transportation reduced the weight limit of the Bridge of the Gods in July from 40-30 tons down to 8 tons after an ODOT load analysis showed dozens of gussets and stringers needed to be repaired or replaced due to rust and corrosion. The change in weight restrictions effectively banned most trucks from using the bridge and has forced more truckers onto Washington State Route 14 and the Hood River Bridge.
After pleading with the state to declare a regional economic emergency to help leverage funding for the bridge repairs, the Port of Cascade Locks was awarded a Statewide Transportation Improvement Program grant in late August that will cover the estimated $1.14 million cost of repairing the bridge.
Work on the bridge will be managed by ODOT and contracted out to two different construction companies. Although the bridge will be closed at night during the repair job, Koch didn’t anticipate there being any full bridge closures during the day.
“There might be some one-way closures, but that has not come up yet,” he said.
Once the repairs are over, Koch said it is “anticipated that ODOT will revisit the weight limit on the bridge the first part of January and redo the weight limitation, returning it to 80,000 pounds.”
The Port of Cascade Locks is also currently considering raising bridge tolls, which are currently $1 per car, to “help pay for annual maintenance” on the bridge, according to Koch. A series of town hall meetings are tentatively planned for later this month so the public can supply the port with input on the toll hike. Koch said there are currently “a series of preliminary proposals from (an increase of) 25 cents to a doubling of the toll for heavy trucks,” but noted that “nothing has been decided yet.”
“A final decision will not be made until November, with the goal of having the new toll in place beginning Jan. 1, 2014,” he said.
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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge