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Welcome to the Van Buren Bridge
Cultural Resources Online Open House

We have been working to research and identify historic and archaeological resources near the Van Buren Bridge Project. In our last open house we outlined what we were studying and asked for help in identifying any that was missed. In this open house we will review the process and share our findings.

This work is being done as part of the Van Buren Bridge Project to design and construct a seismically resilient two-lane eastbound bridge over the Willamette River in Corvallis, including a multiuse path. Design work is ongoing and updated plans are expected later this summer or fall.


Learn about the project and why it is needed.
This project must comply with federal rules about impacts to historic properties.
Learn about the Finding of Effect (FOE) efforts and documentation
Find out what happens next, learn how to stay involved, and give us your feedback.

Project Background

The existing Van Buren Bridge is a bottleneck to travelers and freight, and is also considered seismically vulnerable. Replacement of the existing bridge was first proposed more than 20 years ago, but no funding was available at that time.

Existing bridge drawing.
  • Year completed: 1915.
  • Design features: one lane of motor traffic and a pedestrian path.
  • Annual average daily traffic: 10,800 vehicles per day.
  • National Bridge Inventory sufficiency rating: 48.9 out of 100. (A score of 50 or less recommends replacement over repair.)
  • It’s too narrow to add more lanes.
  • It’s vulnerable to earthquakes.
  • The rails and transitions are below the required standards and raise safety concerns.
  • A 1995 evaluation recommended it be replaced by 2005 because of steel fatigue. (It is inspected bi-annually as a safety precaution.)
  • Our recent inspection found underwater erosion of the concrete piers and footings.
  • In the current condition, vehicle height and weight restrictions are required.
The bridge is currently available for donation to another agency or private party if they wish to move it to a different location. It will be available through August 30, 2020. For more information, read about the Bridge Advertisement or watch this short video
  • 1979-1983: An Environmental Impact Statement was completed to consider an alternate route for traffic to bypass the central business area of Corvallis.
  • 2004: Previous plans to study bridge options were revived.
  • 2005: An Environmental Baseline Report was completed to help determine requirements for the new Van Buren Bridge. A Bridge and Roadway Alternatives Report was also completed to study design options for locating a new Van Buren Bridge.
  • 2006-2007: Design options included a new bridge parallel to the existing bridge, a curved bridge between the old bridge and the Harrison Street Bridge, and a bypass north to connect with Oregon 99W. No funding was available.
  • 2008-2009: An Existing Traffic Conditions Report was completed and focused on conducting additional traffic studies.
  • 2017: The State Legislature’s passage of House Bill 2017 provided more bridge funding and project planning resumed.

The current project builds on this previous work.

Additional Information

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Overview & Identification Efforts

This project has federal funding and must comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires consideration of the effects on historic properties within the project. The feedback that we gather from this online open house will help us complete our research on these important places.

Van Buren Bridge Cultural Resources Map

Click and drag to explore the map. Click lines, shapes and icons for more information. Turn layers on and off and browse the list of projects by clicking the Google Maps Layers button in the upper left of the map window. (You may need to turn off layers to select other objects underneath.) Map shapes and icons are provided for reference only, precise locations may vary.

Historic properties within the project have been researched and identified through field survey and background research.

Any identified adverse effects to historic properties will be avoided or minimized and mitigated where necessary.

The Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, federally-recognized tribes, project consulting parties and the general public will be consulted throughout these efforts.

More information

In June 2019, a Historic Resource Baseline Report was completed that summarizes our previous efforts up to this point, including the various historic buildings in the area that have been researched to determine eligibility for mitigation of any adverse effects as part of this process. 

Section 106 process diagram.

The Area of Potential Effect (APE) is the geographic area where the project actions may result in impacts to cultural resources.
SHPO is the State Historic Preservation Office.
THPO is the Tribal Historic Preservation Office.
NHO is the Native Hawaiian Organization.
ACHP is the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

To identify eligible historic and archaeological resources, we:

  • Researched and evaluated the National Register eligible resources within the Area of Potential Effect (APE), the geographic area where the project may result in impacts to cultural resources. 
  • Conducted an Intensive Level Survey for resources 45 years or older within the APE.
  • Evaluated previous research of above ground buildings. (See below.)
  • Examined known archaeological sites including five previously recorded sites, plus Orleans Townsite.
  • Examined unknown archaeological sites to provide additional research and fieldwork to better understand potential project impacts.
We evaluated whether the following resources are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)*:
  • Van Buren Bridge
  • Corvallis Downtown Historic District
  • John Beach Barn
  • Flomatcher Building
  • Verizon Building (303 NW Harrison)
We determined the following resources are potentially eligible for listing in the NRHP:
  • Van Buren Bridge
  • Corvallis Downton Historic District
  • John Beach Barn
*The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation and is part of a national program to support efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.
We made the following efforts to identify archaeological sites within the project area:
  • Research to determine the type of archaeological resources that may be encountered.
  • Review previously-conducted fieldwork to identify locations for study.
  • Outreach to consulting parties.
  • Monitor geotechnical borings for deeply buried resources.
  • Test and evaluate four sites and Orleans Townsite.

Archaeological Fieldwork in Linn County at the Orleans Townsite

Archaeological Fieldwork in Linn County.

  • We are examining four archaeological sites along with the Orleans Townsite.
  • Artifacts mostly include structural debris from late 19th and early 20th century businesses and residences, although a few Native American artifacts are present.
  • Some artifacts may be associated with the Orleans Townsite, a town established in 1850 and destroyed during a flood in 1861.
  • One site has been evaluated and is likely not eligible for listing in the NRHP.
  • Analysis of artifacts recovered during fieldwork is underway.

Examples of Artifacts

Examples of  Artifacts.

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Finding of Effect

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Next Steps

Thanks for your interest in the project. Below you can find out what happens next, learn how to stay involved, and give us your feedback.

The Section 106 Cultural Resource Process establishes how to mitigate any adverse effects to historic and archaeological resources. Responsible parties will develop an agreement that outlines mitigation strategies as part of this process, called a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

The MOA and mitigation strategies must be created with consulting party and community input. Consulting party and community input related to the mitigation process will begin in spring 2021. The final MOA is anticipated to be completed in fall 2021.

Our immediate next steps include:

  • Finalize Finding of Effect documents and submit to Federal Highway Administration and State Historic Preservation Office for review and concurrence.
  • Begin coordination for mitigation of adverse effects, anticipated in spring 2021.
  • Hold a public open house to present proposed mitigation of adverse effects strategies in summer 2021.
  • Prepare Memorandum of Agreement and finalize in fall 2021.
Design work for the replacement bridge is continuing. We expect to share updated designs with you later this summer or fall.

Complete the comment form below.

Visit the project website for more information.

Sign up for email updates.

Contact ODOT:

For questions about Historic Resources, please contact Hayli Reff, and for questions about Archeological Resources, contact Tobin Bottman.

For general questions and comments, please contact Savannah Crawford.


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