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The project to replace the Van Buren Bridge is entering a new phase.

Oregon Department of Transportation officials will address the Corvallis Historic Resources Commission on Tuesday. The meeting serves as the start of a multisession public outreach process that will last into 2021 (see information box for the list of sessions).

Tuesday’s event will focus mainly on the historic resources that will be affected by the process, said Savannah Crawford, the ODOT project manager, although a general overview of the bridge replacement project also is on the agenda.

“ODOT is primarily assessing the historic resources within the area of potential effect which can inform the product design and outcomes,” wrote Crawford in a letter to the Historic Resources Commission.

The “area of potential effect,” as defined by ODOT, runs from the bridge approaches on the east, the Harrison Bridge to the north, the Van Buren Bridge to the south and Northwest Third Street to the west. The bridge itself is among the 23 historic resources that ODOT surveyed for a report it is delivering to the Historic Resources Commission.

The project is scheduled to cost approximately $69 million, with construction scheduled to begin in 2022. The funds come from HB 2017, a massive $5.3 billion transportation package passed by the Legislature in 2017. No city or county money is involved. The first steps in the design phase include traffic analysis, and environmental analysis in addition to the historic resources work.

The one-lane bridge, which was built in 1913 and carries eastbound Highway 34 traffic over the Willamette River, is functionally obsolete and seismically unsafe. The replacement bridge will be two lanes and will include bicycle and pedestrian amenities, Crawford said.

It remains unclear what will happen to the current bridge, which preservationists have said should be saved.

“ODOT will be developing a bridge repurposing report that will identify various outcomes to the existing bridge, such as potential uses, cost of retrofitting/moving/removing, maintenance, future ownership, etc.,” said Crawford. “This work will occur over the summer with a public open house tentatively scheduled for late June to obtain input.”

The bridge funding breaks down to $9 million for design and $60 million for construction, with no funds set aside for whatever is determined to be the future of the current span.

The early design work on the project, Crawford said, includes geotechnical explorations that will lead to lane closures on Van Buren Avenue starting Thursday and continuing for approximately a month.

May 16, 17 and 20 there will be single-lane closures from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Van Buren between Second Street and First Street as well as closure of some parking spaces. Additional parking spaces will be closed sporadically between May 29 and June 20 on First Street to give crews access to Riverfront Park.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 21-24 the left and center lanes of Van Buren between Second and First will be closed. Motorists will not be able to turn left from Van Buren onto First, with bridge access and those wishing to turn right on First occupying the right-hand lane.

Eastbound Van Buren motorists seeking to access the parking lot on First should use Northwest Tyler as an alternate. Detour signs will be in place, Crawford said.

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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