After rounding the new year, Cottage Grove is due to collect 11 free bridge beams from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
“We’re excited by that in multiple ways,” said City Manager Richard Meyers on KNND’s Beeper Show on Monday.
The 115-foot-long beams will be used for the city’s upcoming Cleveland Bridge project, though there is still not a date set for the project to begin.
“We don’t know when we’re going to be building this,” said Meyers. “It could be next year. It could be three or five or 10 years, but ODOT needs to get these beams that they use for the temporary structures off the property that they’re stored on right now.”
The beams were used for the I-5 bridge crossing of the Willamette River between Springfield and Eugene. There are reportedly hundreds of these beams ready to be given away.
Cottage Grove city engineers evaluated the beams and confirmed that they would work perfectly for the city’s planned project. They can also be stored for long periods without corrosion.
“So it’s a huge, huge advantage for us to get these. And they’re free,” said Meyers, estimating that the beams would normally cost the city upwards of $800,000 and possibly more if the project isn’t started for several years.
The city will have to pay to transport the beams in January, however, which is estimated to cost nearly $100,000. Storing the beams closer to the planned construction site will bring down future costs of moving again.
“So, we’re figuring if we get these now, they’re not going to spoil. They’re not going to go bad,” said Meyers. “We can put these away, have them ready so that when we build the bridge — and the bridge can be designed directly for these — we save that cost.”
Just having the materials may create the opportunities for the bridge construction to come along even sooner as well.
On top of these advantages, Meyers said he was pleased with the energy and material efficiency of the move.
“This is also a great example of reducing, reusing, recycling,” noting that the city is working with the Department of Environmental Quality on getting an estimate on total CO2 savings. “Here’s cement that doesn’t have to be busted up and hauled to the landfill as well as the energy and all of the resources that were used in putting those beams together isn’t going to be reused again in new ones.”
Only two cities, including Cottage Grove, have taken advantage of getting the beams, said Meyers.