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FHWA Announces $300M Investment in Bridge Projects Across the United States, $13.9M to Fund the Burgard Bridge Project in Oregon

by: Jessica Hoover
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently revealed plans to allocate nearly $300 million for nine small- and medium-sized bridge projects in both urban and rural areas. The grants, awarded in eight states and the District of Columbia, are part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's Bridge Investment Program. This program aims to rebuild, repair, and replace bridges of all sizes, with a total investment of $12.5 billion over five years.

The Bridge Investment Program has already made significant strides in the past fiscal year, with $2.4 billion being invested in 2022. This program is a crucial component of the government's efforts to revamp the nation's bridges and represents the largest dedicated investment in bridge infrastructure since the construction of the Interstate Highway System.

One of the projects set to benefit from this funding is the replacement of an aging viaduct over the Union Pacific Railroad in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. The Burgard Bridge serves as a vital connection for local residents and industries, accommodating various modes of transportation and facilitating movement within the city. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will receive $13.9 million from the Bridge Investment Program for this project, with an additional $3.8 million in matching funds provided by PBOT's Fixing Our Streets program.

“I am grateful for the Federal investment in repairing and restoring the Burgard Bridge in North Portland,” said Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “This significant freight project rebuilding the old deficient bridge provides the only direct connection between Highway 30 and the Rivergate Industrial Area. It’s been a priority for the Portland Freight Committee, Port of Portland, Columbia Corridor Association, and other stakeholders for many years.”

The existing Burgard Bridge — a 93-year-old structure that currently handles over 8,600 vehicles daily, including more than 3,100 trucks — is in poor condition and has exceeded its design life. In recent years, the bridge has faced numerous partial closures due to damage sustained from a train derailment in 2020. If the bridge were to fail, the nearest detour route would be several miles out of the way and would force heavy trucks to navigate through residential neighborhoods. Project sponsors estimate that replacing this bridge will save millions of dollars related to travel time and vehicle operating costs.

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“This bridge serves an important employment area and freight routes. The consequences of failure would be massively impactful,” said Dylan Rivera, Spokesperson for PBOT. “It creates a more resilient system and is a multimodal bridge that will improve safety for everyone, no matter how they are traveling.”

The proposed project involves the construction of a new bridge with a longer span, which will provide new space for a third railroad track underneath the bridge, along the existing corridor that services the Port of Portland. By clear-spanning the railroad, the bridge will also be less vulnerable to train derailments. To close the existing gap in multimodal infrastructure, the new Burgard Bridge will feature a protected sidewalk-level two-way bike lane on one side and 8-foot sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, providing safe and reliable access for pedestrians and cyclists.

After the Burgard Bridge project is complete, it will connect residents to employment opportunities and recreational destinations, remove geometric deficiencies, facilitate freight movement, provide enhanced bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and meet seismic standards to maintain connectivity for emergency routes in the event of an earthquake.

"We're so thankful for this federal investment," said Tara Wasiak, Interim Director of PBOT. "This investment will provide access for freight to some crucial industrial areas and provide a safer route for biking and walking on a major corridor in the St. Johns neighborhood. With a seismic upgrade, this bridge will benefit Portlanders and our entire region for generations to come."

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