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Moving the American Economy - U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

Monday, May 19, 2008
Contact: Doug Hecox
(202) 366-0660
FHWA 10-08

Federal Highway Administration Names Bridge for Engineer
Donald R. Olson Memorial Bridge Replaces County's Last Steel Truss Bridge

SAND POINT, Idaho – Officials representing all levels of government joined the family, friends and coworkers of longtime area road engineer Don Olson for the dedication of a bridge named for him today.

Working for the FHWA from 1970 to 1991, Olson was a key part of the design and construction of more than 200 bridges in the Pacific Northwest. It is the first bridge named for a FHWA employee in the agency's history, and a plaque commemorating his achievements erected near the bridge was unveiled in the ceremony.

"At 223 feet long, this is one of the nation's smallest bridges," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray, "but it is a big monument to a man who dedicated nearly four decades of service to the people of Idaho and to motorists nationwide."

Located 14 miles north of U.S. 2 on the Meadow Creek Road and less than 20 miles from the Canadian border, the Donald R. Olson Memorial Bridge serves about 200 vehicles daily. It links portions of federal highway through the Kaniksu National Forest. The bridge has been open to traffic since November.

Made of concrete and steel, the new bridge replaces the 85-year-old Rutledge Bridge – Boundary County's last steel truss bridge – over the Moyie River. It was due for replacement after engineers found structural weaknesses and other flaws that made it unsafe for many of the area's heavy vehicles.

The new bridge is made of a single span of concrete and steel, unlike its predecessor which relied on piers, and will gather less debris and result in less maintenance work.

Olson died in 2001 at the age of 65. His wife Hazel, and their children, were on hand for the ceremony.

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