The Corvallis Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee met with the Oregon Department of Transportation project manager for the Van Buren Bridge Replacement in June 2018. We learned that funds for replacing the bridge were allocated by the Oregon Legislature in the 2017 session, targeted for design and construction of a new bridge over the Willamette that meets current seismic standards. A functioning river crossing is critical to emergency response for the mid-valley, since existing bridges in Corvallis and Albany do not meet seismic standards. The design for the new, two-lane bridge will ease traffic congestion and will include pedestrian and bicycle accommodations. This is important for the business community, residents, and the many visitors to Corvallis.

ODOT and federal funding will not cover preservation or relocation of the existing bridge. ODOT cost estimates for preservation or relocation of the existing bridge range from $7 million to $12 million plus annual maintenance by a new bridge owner. Benton and Linn counties will not take ownership of the bridge. No other owner or source of funds has been identified.

This is the second time funds have been appropriated by the Legislature for replacement of the Van Buren Bridge. In 2005, local disagreement over the fate of the old bridge caused the entire project to be canceled. The need for the new bridge is only more critical today.

Corvallis has an opportunity to lead the region with a bridge designed to safely carry vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Please join the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce in supporting this project.

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Charlie Mitchell

Corvallis (Aug. 8)

The author, chair of the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce board of directors, writes on behalf of the board.

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