New bridge opens: Contractor finishes Sheep Creek project 2 weeks early

Sean C. Morgan

The Sheep Creek Bridge project was completed two weeks early, and the Oregon Department of Transportation has reopened Highway 20 east of Sweet Home last week.

The highway had been closed at Sheep Creek Bridge, approximately 26 miles east of Sweet Home at milepost 56.6, since Aug. 2 for repairs to the bridge and the eastern-most span and abutments.

“We are just as thrilled as travelers that Wildish Construction Company, the contractor, was able to complete the bridge work and reopen the roadway in six weeks.” said Steve Schultz, Oregon Department of Transportation project manager. “This project should provide a safer and more maintainable bridge for years to come. We appreciate everyone’s understanding that the roadway had to be closed to get the work done.”

The bridge’s eastern abutment rests on an active slide, in which earth movement measured 6 to 7 inches per year prior to the first phase, which ODOT completed last year.

The bridge, built in 1962, was designed to move with the slide, with adjustments in 1993, 2006 and 2011, but it had reached the point that it had to be replaced. Until about 2010, the movement was about 1 inch per year.

In 2015, during Phase 1 of the two-part project, ODOT drove 50-foot steel piles into the landslide north of the bridge to redirect landslide activity away from the bridge.

Following the completion of the first phase, the slide moved about 1 inch, said Brady Pauls, construction coordinator. “(Over) several months, there was no movement at all.”

After excavation for the second phase of the project, the slide moved another inch, Pauls said. Since back filling has occurred, it hasn’t moved any further.

“The engineers who designed them are happy with them,” Pauls said of the steel piles. If they continue to perform the way they are now, the bridge shouldn’t move at all now.

The new bridge span and abutment are built to ride over the top of the slide if it keeps moving. This will make impact to the bridge more consistent and predictable, and therefore, more manageable.

ODOT completed the second phase to construct landslide mitigation to slow movement of the landslide and construct an abutment that can be maintained if the movement continues. It also reconstructed the east span of the bridge.

While the bridge work is completed, travelers should expect to see construction crews completing additional work surrounding the bridge through October. This will require lane closures with flaggers during the daytime hours.

The $1.4 million project was funded by state and federal dollars. Delta Construction Company of Eugene was the contractor on the first phase, and Wildish Construction Company of Eugene is the contractor on second.

The project had a few unforeseen issues, he said, so it required a few adjustments. Still, the contractor was able to finish the job in six weeks and earn a full bonus for finishing 14 days early.

“Overall, it went really well,” Pauls said. “The contractor did a good job. We’re happy.”

For more information, including videos on the project, go to–.aspx.