BROOKINGS OFFICIALS CONTINUE EFFORTS TO LIGHT CHETCO BRIDGE
September 04, 2001 11:00 pm

A 2-year-old effort by the port and City of Brookings to obtain lighting for the B.A. Dot Martin Bridge is still alive, but wont be happening for some time, said state transportation officials.

Lee Sparks, assistant District 7 manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in Roseburg, said he believed the project will come together in time.

Sparks said Rick Hart, bridge engineer from ODOTs Salem office is confident something can be done.

He added, In partnership with the city and county, we should be able to get something done.

Sparks said he was approached by Port of Brookings Harbor officials about the possibility of installing lights on the bridge.

Initial studies did not meet ODOT criteria, according to Sparks.

We needed to see if lighting the bridge was warranted before we could put it on our list of projects, he said. When a project is warranted, it goes on the regional list and is prioritized. Projects are done as they are picked off the top of the list.

But the history of accidents and traffic counts were not enough to warrant the project.

For city officials, however, getting the bridge illuminated is a public safety concern.

Its coming along slow because it seems no one wants to spend a lot of money on the project, City Manager Leroy Blodgett said. But there is the safety issue pedestrians crossing the bridge at night.

Mayor Bob Hagbom added it wasnt only local residents the city was concerned about.

There are also the transients and others who hole up on both sides of the bridge, he said. Their safety is also a concern.

Port Manager Russ Crabtree also sees the safety issue as being the primary concern, and would like to see ODOT take this project more seriously.

Someone was killed near the bridge a few years ago, he said. And children have been chased across the bridge at night.

Nobody wants to use the bridge at night.

Im tired of being led around a lamp post on this thing. Lets do it, and do it quickly.

Sparks said he still wanted to work with local officials to find another way to make the project doable.

He suggested forming a partnership with local government agencies so we could go outside the warranted requirement, he said.

With a partnership it was hoped we could possibly do something outside those parameters, he said. We looked at using some used light poles, and that the bridge had already been built for lights.

But our engineers said hold on, and the plans were put on hold. Its not a case of simply putting lights up. Its now in the hands of the engineers in Salem.

An engineering study was initiated, Sparks said, which is still not completed. He said part of the problem lies in construction guideline differences between when the bridge was built and today.

In the 1970s, the AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) standards for electrical and structural engineering for streets and highways were met in the construction of the bridge, he said. Those have changed significantly.

Apparently there is a problem with the bolt pattern on the mounts. (The engineers) are worried they wont meet the standards.

The problem of meeting the standards is what is dragging the project on and on and on.

Originally, when the idea of an engineering study was discussed, the City of Brookings and the Port of Brookings Harbor had agreed to help finance the $5,000 project. Sparks said that has changed now.

In the interest of the community, he said. ODOT is going to pay for the study.

We want to do this right and make sure we can have lights on the bridge.

But there is no specific timeline.

Sparks said with ODOTs engineering people now on the project, a stamped set of plans for the lighting would be required before funding could be allocated to put the lights up.

Without the plans, and with the cost factor, he said, we cant do anything right now.

On Tuesday, Sparks reported that he had been informed by engineers in Salem that a document would be produced in the next few days that specifically would address some of the engineering concerns with the lighting project.

He hoped this would take the project one step closer to becoming a reality.