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Boeckman Bridge reopens to vehicle traffic

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Boeckman Road, shown prior to its most recent repair work, reopened to vehicle traffic Monday where it crosses the Coffee Creek wetland near Villebois. It took place on a Monday, with relatively little fanfare.

But it probably won’t be long before the effects are felt in full across Wilsonville.

Southwest Boeckman Road re-opened Monday morning where the roadway crosses the Coffee Creek wetland. The first cars moved across the newly renovated bridge, and just like that, more than two years of heartburn for the city and its residents alike was over.

“We may not have the streetlights lit, but PGE is paying attention to that,” Wilsonville Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar told Wilsonville city councilors at a Nov. 18 meeting. “But we feel like it is OK to go ahead and open it; the lane striping is nice and fresh.”

The news likely will be welcomed by local residents who long since have grown accustomed to the long detour around Boeckman Road to either end of Wilsonville. Now, the bridge will once again be available to route midtown drivers across the Coffee Creek wetland west to Villebois and Grahams Ferry Road.

After two years of frustration with the bridge, which settled into to the soft wetland soil much deeper than expected, the city still wants to keep a lid on expectations, however.

“We’re not trying to draw attention to it,” quipped City Manager Bryan Cosgrove.

At the end of the day, the city hopes Monday’s reopening will help put to bed the troubles of the past five years.

Designed to connect Boeckman Road with Tooze Road and provide another east-west arterial route across Interstate 5, the bridge was completed in 2008 at a cost of $17 million. It started settling into softer-than-expected soil almost immediately, prompting a string of temporary repairs and eventually a lawsuit in 2010 against HDR Engineering, the company that designed and built the span.

The company settled with the city in September 2011 for roughly $980,000. That money was used by the city to carry out the latest and most comprehensive repairs over the summer.

Before that, work consisted mainly of placing gravel on the roadway in an attempt to help the roadbed settle more firmly into the soil. At the same time, the city has spent roughly $664,000 in the past two years on design, engineering and related costs.

With work now finished in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, it brings the total cost of repairs done over the past two years to just more than $2 million.

“If we wanted the most foolproof bridge possible, we would have built a really long bridge on pilings,” Kraushaar told the city council at a September work session. “But that would have been extremely expensive.”



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