Oregon DOT plans $32 million seismic makeover for 7 bridges along US 97

Link River Bridge
Seven bridges in the Klamath Falls, Oregon, area will be the subject of seismic upgrades to be performed over the next four years to improve U.S. 97's ability to withstand a major earthquake. The Link River Bridge, shown here, is the most complex retrofit in the bridge bundle project, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. (Courtesy: ODOT)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Seven bridges in the Klamath Falls, Oregon, area will be the focus of a $32 million retrofitting project that will begin this year and continue for the next four years, according to a statement released by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

OTR Capital

It’s all part of a seismic resiliency plan spearheaded by the State of Oregon and funded by the federal government.

The bridges are located on U.S. 97, which is a primary north-south highway and “lifeline route” in the event of a major earthquake. Because of its inland location, U.S. 97 is expected to fare better than the other primary north-south routes along Interstate 5 and U.S. 101, which are projected to be badly damaged or completely destroyed in the wake of a Cascadia subduction event.

The State of Oregon has identified the bridges as the most vulnerable to a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake —the impact magnitude scientists expect when a Cascadia subduction event next occurs off the Oregon coast. The project includes the following bridges:

  • U.S. 97 over UPRR (Lobert Bridge);
  • U.S. 97 over Lakeport Blvd & UPRR (Pelican City Bridge);
  • U.S. 97 over Nevada Ave;
  • U.S. 97 over USBOR Canal;
  • U.S. 97 over Link River (Link River Bridge);
  • U.S. 97 over OR140 (Greensprings Interchange); and
  • U.S. 97 over Klamath River.

Geologists believe tectonic plates off the Oregon coast shift about every 300 years, causing a massive earthquake and tsunami. It has now been 321 years since Cascadia last struck, meaning it is now overdue. Additionally, the Klamath Falls has localized earthquakes, as evidenced by the Scotts Mill and Klamath Falls earthquakes in 1993.

Six of the project bridges will be retrofitted and another, which carries U.S.97 over Lakeport Blvd. and UP Railroad, will be completely replaced.

U.S.97 will be the first primary route to achieve its resiliency goal with the completion of the south U.S. 97 bridge bundle. A similar group was completed last year on the north end of U.S. 97 just south of Biggs Junction.

The work on the Klamath Falls bridges will be performed by a contractor who will be selected this summer by competitive bid, with bridge work starting after that and continuing for the next four years.

For more information, visit ODOT’s project website.

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