May 14, 2002 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Motorists can expect lane closures as work begins on Interstate 84 bridges west of La Grande.

Work should start about June 5, contractors said.

An informational meeting to explain the bridge projects will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Oregon Department of Transportation Region 5 headquarters on Island Avenue.

ODOT and the construction crew will discuss the lengthy construction project on the bridges. Lane closures will occur as the Lower Perry Interchange bridges over the Grande Ronde River are replaced.

The work is being done by a design/build team of Holm II Inc. and CH2M Hill as one of several Eastern Oregon projects starting this summer and funded by the Oregon Transportation Investment Act provided by the last Legislature.

Contractors Tuesday will advise the public of what can be expected while driving through the work zones.

The first phase of the project consists of the construction of a new eastbound bridge. That work is expected to begin during the first week of June and continue through the end of November, according to project manager Larry Gescher. When that aspect of the project is finished, traffic will be routed onto the new structure and the project will be shut down for the winter.

The second phase will begin in the spring of 2003, with the demolition of the old eastbound bridge. A new westbound bridge will then be built in that location, with the expected opening set for November 2003. Again, the project will be shut down for the winter.

The final phase of the project, involving the demolition of the westbound bridge and the removal of the abandoned roadway surface will begin in the spring of 2004. Completion of the project is expected by September 2004.

The six bridges about two miles west of

La Grande are being replaced at a cost of $40 million. The increased load limits now permitted under state law have contributed to their


The Holm II, CH2M Hill contract, awarded May 2, is for just over $8.1 million and does not include some preliminary engineering costs, said Tom Strandberg, ODOT public information representative.

Region 5 Manager Tom Schuft said ODOT is well aware of the inconvenience traffic disruptions can cause to the public and hopes to keep cars and trucks rolling through the construction sites.

"We will keep one lane of traffic open at all times during the construction, but there may be some minor closures," he said.

The freeway in the area of the bridges is also due for repaving this summer.

Statewide, the Oregon Transportation Investment Act provides $400 million for 131 projects. The 12 bridge projects alone will cost $94.9 million. Not all the money for the local bridge work comes from the OTIA.

Reach Ray Linker at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

On the Web:

For details of the area projects or OTIA funding or other ODOT construction projects, visit the Web site www.odot.state.or.us/region5 or call

Tom Strandberg, ODOT public affairs officer, at 541-963-1330.