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Number of cyclists, pedestrians dwindle as walkway replacement work stays on schedule

PMG PHOTO: SHANNON O. WELLS - Jim Califf, project superintendent with Salem-based Carter & Co. construction, pauses Wednesday morning, March 25, during renovation work on the Troutdale Bridge across the Sandy River at Glenn Otto Community Park. Supervising and toiling with his crew members on renovations to the Troutdale Bridge keeps Jim Califf's mind and hands occupied, but not enough to truly forget about the coronavirus crisis that's all but shut down normal life around the country.

"I'm not necessarily removed from it, but I feel very fortunate I'm in a profession (where work can) keep going," said Califf, a superintendent with Salem-based Carter & Company Inc. construction. "It's also kind of scary. We talk every morning about keeping a distance (from each other) and keeping us away from people."

Califf and his crew of five are working on a $1.8 million Oregon Department of Transportation project to replace the rickety wooden pedestrian walkway surface on the two-lane span over the Sandy River at Glenn Otto Community Park and make other safety-related upgrades.

The project, which ODOT said will take eight weeks to complete, is meant to increase safety for those walking and biking across the bridge by upgrading the walkway structure with durable, low-maintenance materials, officials noted.

The narrow, aging bridge carrying the Historic Columbia River Highway across the Sandy was closed to vehicular traffic on Monday, March 16. The delay of the original closure date, ODOT officials said, was unrelated to a semi-truck crash on Monday, Feb. 24, that temporarily closed the bridge and caused minor damage that afternoon.

Cyclists and pedestrians may continue using the bridge during construction, but should be prepared to follow the signed detour route onto the bridge — and exercise caution in the work zone.PMG PHOTO: SHANNON O. WELLS - A crewmember with Salem-based Carter & Co., works on a piece of heavy equipment used on the $1.8 million ODOT project to replace the old wooden walkway on the Troutdale Bridge and upgrade other safety features on the bridge.

The project replaces the plywood walkway on the upstream side of the bridge with plastic composite lumber and widen it to accommodate those with disabilities. Plastic lumber has a longer lifespan, reduced maintenance needs and similar appearance to wood, ODOT said. The bridge's white, wooden guardrail also will be replaced with a metal one that resembles the original.

Additional work includes repairs to small sections of the span, temporary relocation and reinstallation of a city sewer main that runs below the walkway deck and replacing lighting on the bridge for increased safety. Signage and striping changes also will be made to the intersection of the Historic Columbia River Highway and Crown Point Highway at the bridge's eastern end.

"For a bridge that's 98 years old, it's in pretty good shape," Jim Califf said.

Most work will take place during daytime hours, but some may take place at night and generate noise for those working or living in the area, ODOT said.PMG PHOTO: SHANNON O. WELLS - The Troutdale Bridge at Glenn Otto Community Park was closed to vehicular traffic on Monday, March 16, to accommodate work on the two-lane span. The project could wrap up as soon as early May.

Jim Califf of Carter & Company said the current goal is to reopen the bridge by early May, ahead of the original proposed opening closer to Memorial Day.

Most who walk, bike or drive near the bridge, he added, are aware of what's going on and understanding of the temporary inconveniences the project is causing.

"There are always people who don't pay attention or read signs," Califf said.

As the coronavirus pandemic crisis and related stay-at-home orders by Gov. Kate Brown have kept more people at home, however, the number of local travelers has dwindled.

"The first week we were shut down there was a huge amount of pedestrians and bicyclists," he said. "Now with the virus, you hardly see anyone around."PMG PHOTO: SHANNON O. WELLS - Jim Califf talks with a Carter & Co. construction employee on Wednesday, March 25, as work to renovate the bridges walkway, lighting and other elements continues.

For more information on the project, visit

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