Welcome to the Van Buren Bridge Cultural Resources Online Open House
You can use this online open house to learn about our efforts to research and identify historic and archaeological resources near the Van Buren Bridge Project, as well as share your knowledge about the area to help us finish our research on these important places.
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.
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, learn how to stay involved, and give us your feedback.
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 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.
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.)
We are replacing the bridge because:
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.
What will happen to the existing bridge?
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 feedback that we gather from this online open house will help us finish our research on these important places. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Historic Resources Examined
We evaluated whether the following resources are eligibile for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)*:
Van Buren Bridge
Corvallis Downtown Historic District
John Beach Barn
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.
Archaeological Research Conducted
We made the following efforts to identify archaeological sites within the project area:
Research to determine 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 Resources Examined and Initial Results
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.
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.
What Happens Next
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 this process will begin in January. The final MOA is anticipated to be completed in May 2021.
Our immediate next steps include:
Prepare additional Determination of Eligibility document for Riverfront Park.
Prepare archaeological report and Determination of Eligibility documents for resources in Linn County.
Prepare Finding of Effect documents.
Hold a public open house to present Finding of Effect documents in January 2021.
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 January 2021.
Prepare Memorandum of Agreement and finalize in May 2021.
Design work for the replacement bridge is continuing. We expect to share updated designs with you later this summer or fall.
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