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

FHWA 29-11
Monday, July 6, 2011
Contact: Nancy Singer
Tel: 202-366-0660

Construction on the Interstate 5 Willamette River Bridge Progresses Ahead of Schedule, Federal Highway Administrator Mendez Receives Update

EUGENE, Ore. - Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez today received an update on how construction on the new Interstate 5 Willamette River Bridge, which will improve travel on one of the nation's key corridors, is progressing ahead of schedule.

Administrator Mendez toured the construction site and received a briefing from Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Matthew Garrett.

"The Willamette River Bridge is a vital transportation investment in one of the busiest interstates in the country," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "Construction on this bridge creates jobs today and builds a strong foundation for economic growth and mobility in the future."

The second busiest interstate in the country, I-5 stretches 1,350 miles from U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico through three states. Currently, average daily traffic on the entire corridor is approximately 71,000 vehicles, expected to increase nearly 70 percent by 2040. In the Eugene-Springfield area alone, 60,000 vehicles use I-5 each day, of which almost 20 percent are trucks. That number is predicted to increase to 100,000 vehicles each day by 2040. The new bridge is being built with the capacity to carry three lanes in each direction.

"The Willamette River Bridge project is proceeding ahead of schedule and travelers on this busy corridor will have access to a new bridge sooner than expected," said Administrator Mendez. "The bridge will improve mobility for all users of I-5 over the Willamette River."

The bridge borders the cities of Eugene and Springfield and is vital for moving freight and people on the I-5 since local roads are the only other alternative. In 2002, shear cracks were found on the original bridge, which was built in 1962, resulting in weight limits that detoured all heavy haul trucks to central Oregon, more than 200 miles out of their way. After that discovery, ODOT put a temporary bridge in place.

The design of the new Willamette River Bridge is visually appealing, with two separate spans each supported by only one arched mid-span pier to match the bridge's surroundings and lessen the number of structures touching the water. The total cost of the new I-5 Willamette River Bridge, scheduled to be completed in 2014, is $204 million.

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