Cottage Grove

Light at the end of the tunnel

In Cottage Grove, there was dismay and immediate inconvenience in September of 2016. A right of way that has been open for over 100 years was, without warning, boarded up, closed and posted “No Trespassing!”
For anyone who grew up in Cottage Grove it was a hard blow. The Currin Suspension Footbridge, better known by its colloquial nickname, “The Swinging Bridge” was declared unsafe due to rot in the supporting towers. The current bridge towers support the cables that hold up the decking where people have walked, biked or ran for the last 53 years. This sudden move left a lot of folks wondering when, if ever, the Bridge would be open again for travel.
Well, nearly three years later that question seems to have an answer: circa October 15, 2019. On December, 7th, the city of Cottage Grove issued a Request For Proposals to rebuild this historic bridge over the Coast Fork of the Willamette. The window is open until Jan. 4th for companies to offer their plan and present costs for the replacement span.
An emphasis for a design/build firm is in the RFP posted on the city’s website. If the company that designs the bridge will also be building it, the process is a lot smoother because the construction process is already incorporated into the design. It should be more economical than a contractor taking some plans and trying to figure out the best way to build it — that can lead to mistakes and unforeseen difficulties that could raise costs.
Wading through the 72 page bid document package and the 89 page Addendum on the state of the current bridge conditions may be intimidating to some, but hopefully the right company will be attracted to the challenge.
Here are some to the milestones to expect for the project of rebuilding the Swinging Bridge:
Jan. 4, 2019: Bids are due;
Jan. 14, 2019: City Council votes whether to approve the contract;
June 1, 2019: construction begins;
Sept. 30, 2019: Substantial competition of construction; and
Oct. 15, 2019 final completion.
In talking with Ryan Sisson, an engineer with the city guiding the project, he explained the complexities of the project. There are so many considerations besides just replacing the rotten timbers.
“We have to have a bridge that is above all safe and not a liability for the city,” he said. He went on to describe the windows of when work may be done in the river area due to fish movement, water levels and various jurisdictions that have a say in what happens when. This is not to mention costs and coming up with the “spondoolicks” to pay for a new bridge.
While the city has secured a $200,000 grant from the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, and raised another $16,000 through various fundraisers and folks rounding up on their water bills and other donations — the true cost of rebuilding is yet unknown.
When the bids are opened on January 5th, we will finally have a clearer picture of what that will be, and hopefully the money can be found to rebuild this part of Cottage Grove. If you know of a good structural engineer or company with design/build capabilities, please refer them to the site:
Please also keep donating to the Swinging Bridge Trust Fund and keeping the faith. The bridge will swing again!
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Dana Merryday is a columnist for The Creswell Chronicle can be reached at 541-942-7037 or by emailing [email protected]



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