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EHEI Award: Enhancing the Environment for Human Activities

Upper Perry Arch Bridge Rehabilitation Project


photo of vintage cars going over bridge
Members of the Rusty Wheels Vintage
Car Club ceremoniously reopen the bridge.
Source: Oregon Department of Transportation

Photo of bridge under repair
Damaged portions of the bridge and construction underway.
Source: Oregon Department of Transportation

Close up photo of crumbling concrete bridge supports
The existing concrete supports proved
to be in worse condition than
originally anticipated.
Source: Oregon Department of Transportation

photo of bridge in the distance
Restoration efforts preserved the bridge
as well as the legacy of its original builder
and the early bridge infrastructure movement in Oregon.
Source: Oregon Department of Transportation

The Upper Perry Arch Bridge Rehabilitation Project, led by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), restored the Upper Perry Arch Bridge, a historically significant structure crossing the Grande Ronde River in eastern Oregon. The project maintained the bridge's aesthetic integrity and improved safety conditions while limiting impacts on the surrounding natural environment.

The Upper Perry Arch Bridge has a long and storied history. It serves as an enduring symbol of the architectural creativity and outstanding technique of early 20th century bridge engineers in this region. Built in the early 1920s, the bridge is one of seven reinforced concrete deck arches designed by Conde B. McCullough, renowned Oregon State Bridge Engineer and his team.

McCullough focused on using aesthetically pleasing details to integrate the bridge into the existing landscape. By incorporating visually appealing design elements such as semicircular Roman arches, decorative supports, and scalloped entryways, McCullough aimed to create an enjoyable experience for users as they approached and crossed the bridge. These characteristics helped to define the bridge as a historically significant landmark and in 2003, the bridge was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Upper Perry Arch Bridge Rehabilitation Project worked to restore the bridge after decades of use and exposure to the elements had severely damaged the structure. ODOT, with assistance from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and private contractors, worked to rehabilitate the bridge by updating four approach spans and replacing the span connected by the main arches. In order to preserve the bridge's historic qualities, concrete casts of degrading portions were created. When damage proved to be more extensive than originally anticipated, project designers developed a temporary arch brace so that 10-foot sections of the bridge could be systematically repaired, allowing the project to continue efficiently.

While ODOT recognized the importance of preserving this historically significant structure, it also supported safety improvements and modernization techniques in the rehabilitation. Protective screening on the bridge span, designed to blend into the surrounding environment, was installed. New ornamental bridge rail, cast to match the original decorations, incorporates additional safety reinforcements to support a long-lasting structure.

ODOT developed strategies to limit impacts to the natural environment during rehabilitation of the bridge, especially impacts on three fish species identified as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act. ODOT restricted in-water work and required all demolition debris and concrete to be kept out of the aquatic habitat.

The restoration efforts performed by ODOT and its partners showcase the Upper Perry Arch Bridge as a historically significant yet modern structure. Going forward, ODOT is working to develop a viewing platform at one end of the bridge to provide information for visitors on the bridge's history and meticulous rehabilitation process.

For more information, contact Michelle Eraut, Federal Highway Administration, Oregon Division, at or Howard R. Postovit, Oregon Department of Transportation, Region 5, at

Updated: 06/27/2017
Updated: 6/27/2017
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