ODOT to replace culvert with bridge

February 28, 2014 09:38 am

Construction will close Whiskey Creek Road outside Wallowa

WALLOWA — A bridge replacing a failing culvert on Whiskey Creek will be installed this summer to improve passage for fish including listed steelhead and chinook salmon.

The work is scheduled to take 14 days sometime between July 15 and Aug. 15, a time between high flows and before chinook spawn in the tributaries of the Wallowa River. 

The construction will close off Whiskey Creek Road 1-1/2 miles from its junction with Troy Road outside of Wallowa. Ken Patterson of the Oregon Department of Transportation said the work could take as few as 10 days, but they will allow the contractor 14 in case of inclement weather.

Patterson said the project idea has been around for a couple years and will be funded to the tune of $350,000 by the Western Federal Lands Administration, an agency that funds road projects on public lands or roads that access public land. In turn, they contracted with the state to design the project.

“Years ago the Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife recognized the culvert was a fish passage barrier, so it was selected to be replaced,” Patterson said. “ODOT noticed that culvert was undermined, the footing has eroded away and was at risk of failure. So we are killing two birds with one stone.”

The bridge will be wider than the channel of the creek to allow for its natural flow and for high water, Patterson said, and will be 41 feet long and 28 inches wide. Many of the elements of the bridge are precast for rapid reconstruction such as the bridge slabs, retaining wall and concrete, and will be built in a style consistent with other recent bridge installations in Wallowa County.

The road will be closed during the length of the project, something Patterson said his department knows isn’t going to be very convenient. 

“We’ve been talking to property owners and agencies and trying to work with people during the closure period,” he said.

The construction period happens to fall in line with when Wallowa County gets its most lightning strikes. If wildland firefighters need to access land near the construction project, Patterson said the contractor will have to build a temporary access for fire trucks. 

Otherwise, Matt Howard of the Oregon Department of Forestry said if his crew needs to access land north and east of the junction there is another forest road north of the construction project that is available for use. 

Patterson said during the pre-work in early July there will be flagged traffic stops, while drilling is done to install steel pilings into the roadway.

The project will be available for bid April 24 and close June 7 and will go to the lowest qualified bidder, said Mark Kightlinger of ODOT.

Contact Katy Nesbitt at 541-786-4235 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Katy on Twitter @lgoNesbitt.