Meeting will show Rock Point Bridge plans

GOLD HILL — Officials will show plans to repair and rehabilitate the historic Rock Point Bridge at a two-hour meeting Wednesday at City Hall.

A five-month-long closure is scheduled for the 89-year-old bridge's rehabilitation, which will including repairing its damaged side railings with rebar-enforced concrete and upgrading its decks, said Gary Leaming, Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman.

Wildish Standard Paving of Eugene was awarded the $3.9 million project. ODOT officials and representatives of the construction team will be available to answer questions at the meeting, he said.

The goal is to keep the bridge's aesthetic beauty and meet current crash standards, Leaming said.

The bridge is just north of Gold Hill on Highway 99 and was built in 1920 for about $48,000. It was designed by noted engineer Conde McCullough using a reinforced concrete deck arch. It spans 505 feet over one of the rockiest points on the Rogue River, giving it its name.

The south approach to the two-lane bridge was replaced in 1953. In 1999 ODOT engineers placed — and then lifted — a 10,000-pound gross load weight restriction while the bridge's crossbeams were strengthened in 2000.

Currently the Rock Point Bridge is not structurally compromised, but it is considered "functionally obsolete," said Leaming.

Over time the bridge's ornate concrete handrails and urn-shaped balusters have become damaged and rendered substandard. Balusters have been struck by vehicles. Some have been replaced with alternate materials not in keeping with the bridge's original design. Others remaining are weakened. A few are missing, said Dick Leever, ODOT project leader.

Crews will use high-pressure water hoses to "hydroblast" the outer areas of the bridge, taking precautions to prevent the aged concrete from falling into the river, Leaming said.

Closure of the narrow two-lane bridge could last up to five months. Detours will be in place to reroute traffic toward the Gold Hill interchange at Exit 40 on Interstate 5. But the project is not slated to begin until after Labor Day in order to accommodate nearby businesses, Leaming said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

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