CRC Seismic Retrofit: Down the Memory Hole

ODOT bridge engineer can't remember his own study.

You can’t make this stuff up. From yesterday’s Oregonian.

Bruce Johnson, Oregon’s state bridge engineer…said no one has estimated the cost of seismically retrofitting the Columbia River bridges, but he believes a project would be extremely expensive.

A new substructure would have to be built under the existing bridges for perhaps $500 million or $600 million, which would about equal the cost of the Columbia River Crossing’s bridge portion, Johnson said.

Yet as astute kibbitzers in the comments section pointed out, the Columbia River Crossing project itself released a report on seismic retrofits, concluding:

[I]t is technically feasible to retrofit the existing bridges to the current seismic safety standards…

The Panel discussed and developed their opinion of estimated raw bridge construction costs to retrofit both bridges. This opinion ranges from $88 million to $190 million. This opinion of cost increases from $125 million to $265 million when design, permitting, right-of-way, construction inspection and management, agency oversight, and contingencies are added.

And when you look at the members of the seismic expert panel in Table 2-1, who turns up listed second?

Bruce Johnson, P.E., S.E. State Bridge Engineer Oregon DOT

Down the memory hole, I suppose.

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  1. Evan Manvel says:

    You may not be able to make this stuff up, Clark, but ODOT clearly can – and has done so before.

  2. Boles says:

    The price of everything doubles every ten years. It has been many years since the first numbers were developed.

    • Clark Williams-Derry says:

      Maybe. But the bigger point is that he said that nobody had ever studied the issue.

      I don’t know if it’s a memory lapse or what. But it’s weird.

      • Art Lewellan says:

        Bruce is spuriously favoring the worst case scenario to make a point about escalating costs. More important is structural integrity. The first double-deck bridge design released in 2011 didn’t last one month of peer review before its rejection as structurally unsound. The current design may be stripped of frivolous ornament, but should likewise face questions about structural integrity. Double-deck designs also fail to achieve minimum Coast Guard river clearance standard of 125′. Single-deck designs (pre-2008 in the studies) are a simpler design to achieve structural integrity, and can reach 140′ river clearance.

        The next main problem with the CRC is the proposed Hayden Island interchange (spagetti ramp death trap). In 2010, ODOT finished its Marine Drive interchange design; fine engineering, shovel-ready, desperately needed replacement of the old (horrible) interchange, and can be built with or without the new I-5 bridge.

        The new interchange design includes the Concept #1 Off-island Access option to Hayden Island which eliminates dangerous exit and noisy polluting entrance ramps. The “merge” hazards are also minimized, yet CRC Commission leader Wsdot rejected the design for no good reason. In 2011, supposedly to cut cost, Wsdot tried to defer ODOT’s Marine Drive replacement though it’s more in need of replacement than all other interchanges in Washington which do not need replacement so badly.

        In other words, Wsdot wants to build a death trap interchange on Hayden Island Oregon, delay building a desperately needed Marine Drive interchange in Oregon, build a highly questionable double-deck bridge and build 3 of the 5 interchanges in Washington don’t need to be rebuilt. Wsdot is either criminally incompetent or criminal. Sufficient evidence suggests criminal.
        Bertha is a monster.

  3. dan says:

    Another point, fixing the bridge IS CHEAP in comparison to the multi-billion dollar CRC.

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