The Van Buren Bridge Project will construct a seismically resilient eastbound bridge over the Willamette River. Design will be complete by September 2021 with construction expected to start in 2022.
The role of the existing bridge will be determined this summer through historic resource planning. You can use this online open house to learn about the reuse alternatives and offer feedback to the project team.
For ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) or Civil Rights Title VI accommodations, translation/interpretation services, or more information call 503-731-4128, TTY 800-735-2900 or Oregon Relay Service 7-1-1. Si desea obtener información sobre este proyecto traducida al español, sírvase llamar al 503-731-4128.
Find out what happens next, how to stay involved, and give us feedback on what you learned.
What is Section 106?
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 has required Federal to consider the effects on historic properties (Section 106 of that Act). Historic properties are defined as “any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register of Historic Places (NHRP) maintained by the Secretary of the Interior.” ODOT is delegated the authority from Federal Highways (FHWA), the Federal partner in this project, to carry out their Section 106 duties.
Initiate – ODOT has initiated the Section 106 process by engaging the public, stakeholders, and the City to better understand the historic context of the project area.
Identify Historic Properties – A Historic Resources Baseline survey has been carried out to better understand the resources. This document is intended to give an overview of the resources within what is called the Area of Potential Effect (APE) for the Van Buren Bridge project – essentially the geographic area where changes to historic properties may occur. From the Baseline Report, we can support further study of the resources it has identified at a baseline level. Further study includes research and continued field survey to prepare formal Determinations of Eligibility (DOE) documents for resources that may be eligible for listing in the NRHP. Past research will naturally be utilized to build on earlier studies. This work will be conducted in consultation with the SHPO, project stakeholders, and welcomes input from the public.
Assess Effects – Once all properties have been identified and documentation has received concurrence with findings for eligibility from SHPO, the next step will be to determine how NRHP-eligible resources may be affected by the project actions. This will include preparation of Findings of Effect documents which will also be conducted in consultation with SHPO, project stakeholders, and with input from the public.
Achieving Resolution – ODOT will explore ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate, in that order, adverse effects.Should mitigation be necessary, the intent will be to understand and gather community needs and ideas for mitigation. This effort would coordinate input from SHPO, stakeholders and the public to create a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to codify the mitigation program to resolve whatever adverse effects might come from this project.
Because the Van Buren Bridge Project has participation by a United States DOT subsidiary, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), another law from the exact same moment in time (The Department of Transportation Act of 1966) - Section 4(f) of that act applies to this project. Unlike Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, a procedural law (meaning the above process does not dictate an outcome, but rather a process to follow), Section 4(f) is substantive – meaning in the most simple of terms if there is a solution that does not impact an historic site, and does not cause harm of an extraordinary magnitude to another resource type as a result, it must be taken. Of course it is more complex in a way, but that is the essence of it. This law again reflects an era of Federal hubris relative to historic sites and public parks and recreation areas being used in the Interstate era as places of least resistance to becoming a roadbed. Both laws were designed to create better dialogues between places of historic importance and the community, and insure that design solutions were being considered that took those factors into consideration.
Since this project may adversely affect an historic resource, the Van Buren Bridge, ODOT will be carefully following Section 4(f) guidance – namely guidance designed specifically for impacts to historic bridges, and the sorts of alternative analysis that is expected for any DOT proposing to have an adverse effect to an historic bridge. This will include investigation of reasonable project alternatives and measures to minimize harm in order to inform the options presented. A few of these alternatives have already been outlined in the Bridge Repurposing Study (i.e. a new bridge immediately parallel to Van Buren and removing and reusing the Van Buren Bridge), while other alternatives (i.e. widening Harrison Bridge, or an entirely new alignment through Jackson Street, both of which would leave Van Buren in place) are being concurrently evaluated based on current information as well as earlier analysis.
For additional information about Section 4(f) and the Programmatic Section 4(f) Evaluation, please visit:
Twenty-three properties fifty years of age or older were identified on parcels in the project Area of Potential Effect (APE).
Six historic properties were previously recommended to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP):
Van Buren Bridge
Portland-Corvallis Auto Freight Building
Abby’s Furniture Warehouse
John Beach Barn
217-221 NW 2nd Street – Burlap & Lace
As a result of this survey, three additional historic properties are recommended to be eligible for listing in the NRHP:
207 NW 2nd Street – Peak Sports Outdoor Shop
257 NW Van Buren Avenue – Truck Pros
225-235 NW 2nd Street – Corvallis Floor Covering
A potential Corvallis Downtown Historic District was previously recommended to be eligible for listing in the NRHP. The potential Historic District includes all of the above recommended historic properties and the properties within an expanded boundary on the north side of Van Buren Street with the exception of the John Beach Barn located in Linn County.
The 14 remaining properties fifty years of age or older are recommended as “not eligible” for listing in the NRHP.
These survey findings will be further researched and verified as formal Determinations of Eligibility documents are prepared in the identification phase of the Section 106 process. Current findings may not be final conclusions.
The existing Van Buren bridge has been determined functionally obsolete and seismically vulnerable. Replacement of the existing bridge was first proposed more than 20 years ago, but no funding was available
The existing bridge
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 is being considered for replacement because:
It’s too narrow to add lanes.
It’s vulnerable to earthquakes.
Its rails and transitions are substandard 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.)
Recent inspections have noted underwater erosion of its concrete piers and footings.
Its construction and condition require vehicle height and weight restrictions.
1979-1983: Final Environmental Impact Statement. This study was conducted to consider an alternate route for traffic to bypass the central business area of Corvallis.
2004: Plans are revived. By 2006, options include a new bridge parallel to the existing bridge; and a curved bridge between the old bridge and the Harrison Street Bridge. By 2007, an additional option includes a bypass north to connect with Oregon 99W, but no funding is secured.
2005: Environmental Baseline Report. Environmental study to assist in determining requirements for the new Van Buren Bridge.
2005: Bridge and Roadway Alternatives Report.Design study to assist in locating a new Van Buren Bridge.
With the utilization of federal funds, this project requires compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, a procedural law that requires agencies to consider the effects on historic properties.
Identifying Historic Properties
This effort will include identification of historic properties within the project area through field survey and background research; assessment of potential effects to historic resources that are identified; and the resolution of adverse effects to historic resources, if needed. These efforts will be conducted with consultation from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, project stakeholders, and the general public. A Historic Resource Baseline Report has already been conducted and will inform further identification of historic properties. Additionally, a revalidation will occur for the previously-documented Corvallis Downtown Historic District which has the potential to be affected by the project and features resources not situated within the project Area of Potential Effect (APE). The public is encouraged to submit historical information for resources within the APE and within the potential historic district.
Once the prudent and feasible alternative is chosen pursuant to Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act and design efforts are underway, the process of assessing effects to properties that have been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) can begin. Where possible, avoidance and minimization of impacts to eligible resources will be incorporated. ODOT will consult the State Historic Preservation Office, project stakeholders, and the general public on all findings.
Please provide any feedback you may have in the comment portion of this open house as well as any historic resource specific questions to:
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The Bridge Repurposing study looked at alternatives for repurposing the existing bridge as well as alternatives for a safe and seismically resilient crossing.
How are the 2005 alternatives being considered in this process?
The previous alternative analysis done in the 2005 Bridge and Roadways Concepts Report took a look at a wide range of alternatives. Yet recognizing that work is almost 15 years old and per the requirements of the USDOT, which insures that a current and relevant set of alternatives is considered whenever there is potential for a removal of a nationally significant historic bridge, ODOT is validating the conditions, assumptions and analysis that led to those alternatives – including the following:
Alternative A: Widening the Harrison Bridge
Alternative B: Retrofitting and Retaining the Existing Bridge
Alternative C: Building a Southern Bridge
What to do with the existing bridge?
With the utilization of federal funds, this project requires compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, a procedural law that requires agencies to consider the effects on historic properties. A Bridge Repurposing Study will look at the alternatives for use of the existing bridge.
This Bridge Repurposing Study investigates the need for a new bridge and the possible outcomes of the existing bridge, should the City or other 3rd party choose to take ownership of the existing bridge at its present or relocated location. Additional project alternatives not listed in this document and not directly related to City or 3rd party ownership of the existing bridge are being concurrently examined or revalidated.
The three alternatives presented in the Bridge Repurposing Study are:
Alternative 1: Repair it for walking, biking and more,
Alternative 2: Relocating the existing bridge, and
Alternative 3: Dismantle it.
You can learn more about each of these three options on the following pages.
It is possible for a new bridge to be constructed parallel to the existing Van Buren Street Bridge, allowing the existing bridge to be used exclusively as a bridge for walkers, runners, skaters, cyclists, and other non-vehicular traffic (pedestrians).
Tradeoffs and Considerations
If a new bridge is decided, it will have separated paths for biking and walking, so the existing bridge won’t be required for pedestrians to cross the river.
The existing bridge would need to be carefully analyzed to verify the capacity of the structure to carry pedestrian loads.
To safely accommodate pedestrians on the existing bridge, it would need to be modified. This would require removing the existing sidewalk to prevent its use, and retrofitting the main travel lane to incorporate pedestrian safety railing and loading requirements.
The approach spans would need to be replaced to make room for the replacement bridge and create new access to the existing bridge.
A bridge would likely be built at a higher elevation to provide the minimum navigable channel required by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) with the unintended consequence of obstructing northward views from the existing bridge.
Construction: Approximately $12 million
Annual maintenance: Approximately $150,000
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The existing bridge could be removed and demolished. Some of the work would be similar to moving the bridge — including building a temporary work bridge and removing underwater piers and footings — with similar costs.
Tradeoffs and Considerations
If demolition of the existing bridge is identified as the appropriate course of action, the cost of removing the existing structure will be incorporated into the construction package of building the new bridge. The anticipated length of time to complete demolition work is less than one year.
Demolition: Over $4 million (mobilization, work bridge construction, debris containment measures, and removal of bridge components)
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