Highway 26 canal bridge closes to certain trucks
A canal bridge built in the 1940s, located just north of Cherry Lane on U.S. Highway 26, will be closed to certain heavy trucks for the foreseeable future.
Joel McCarroll, District 10 manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, met with the Madras City Council Jan. 22, to let the council know that the bridge will soon have a weight restriction.
A single-unit hauling vehicle with five axles will be limited to 30 tons; a six-axle vehicle to 33 tons; and a seven-axle vehicle to 36 tons.
"The weight limit only applies to single-unit trucks (generally trash haulers, dump trucks, concrete trucks and some agricultural trucks)," he said. "Anything that has a tractor and trailer combination is not affected by the weight restriction."
Tractor and trailer combinations are typically 67 feet or longer, he said, pointing out that on a 50-foot bridge, the whole vehicle is never on the bridge at one time. "By the time the back axle is on, the front axle is off."
McCarroll said that ODOT has started analyzing bridges to figure out their load capacity, but in some cases, such as the 70-year old bridge over a North Unit Irrigation District canal, "We have no idea what's inside the bridge, in terms of concrete reinforcement."
On Oct. 16, 2018, ODOT conducted a one-day count of through vehicles on U.S. Highway 26, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and found no vehicles that would have been restricted.
ODOT met with individual companies and found that most single-unit hauling vehicles were turning southeast, toward Madras from Cherry Lane, rather than northwest, toward Warm Springs, and wouldn't pass over the bridge.
Working with Jefferson County and the city of Madras, ODOT identified a detour route for the single-unit hauling vehicles headed to the northwest. The vehicles must now cross Highway 26 to the east at Cherry Lane, turn north on North Adams Drive, and west on Elm Lane, to return to the highway.
ODOT expects to post the weight restrictions the first week of February, as well as warning signs at Elm Lane, where the vehicles will be re-entering the highway, headed northwest.