SALEM, Ore. - Historic structures hold a special place in the hearts of Oregonians, and historic bridges are no exception. Some of them have been lost forever, but quite a few have been rehabilitated and kept in service, thanks to investments Oregonians have made in the past three and a half decades.
These bridges and others are reflected in the updated Historic Highway Bridges of Oregon, a book once out of print and now enjoying a new life. A downloadable PDF copy of the new edition is available on the ODOT Bridge Engineering Section website. (A limited number of hard copies of the new edition are being published for selected libraries and historic reference archives.)
Three authors – ODOT Environmental Section researchers – pioneered the earliest historic state bridge inventory with the original publication in 1985. It set a high benchmark for the state in both recording and recognizing the state’s fascinating highway bridge history. It was reprinted with a new cover in 1989 (that edition is available in limited numbers through a few book re-sellers).
In 2017, our Bridge Preservation crew decided to update the document, in part to show how many structures have been saved. Of the 55 ODOT-owned bridges identified in this book, four have been transferred to other agencies; four have been replaced; and 30 have been rehabilitated. Of the 206 total bridges described in the book, 79 percent are still in service, highlighting the high value Oregon places on historic significance.
In this new version, the updates provide status information, correct bridge number and accurate ownership information where it has changed in the last 34 years.
One example of an update is the North Willamette Boulevard overcrossing in Portland. Built in 1909 by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad, it is distinctive as one of only four hanging deck trusses in the state; it also sports attractive vintage lattice steel railing. This bridge was strengthened in 2011 so that it could continue to be a useful part of the transportation system.
Field Guide of Historic Bridges also available
In 2013, we published an updated version of Oregon’s Historic Bridge Field Guide. This guide identifies the bridge’s history, type, location and more. We included bridges built through 1970, increasing the number of identified historic Oregon bridges from 145 to 334. This guide is also available on the ODOT Bridge Engineering Section website.