SILVERTON, OR -- Oregon's Transportation Commission met Thursday to get input on whether to move forward on the failed Wickiup Junction overcrossing on Highway 97 in La Pine. Bob Bryant, Region 4 Manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, admitted to Commissioners mistakes were made. "We didn't analyze the static loads, we should have. we didn't do it on this project. It's standard procedure. We should've done that, we didn't. We missed it."
The project was halted in the spring
, after ODOT engineers became concerned about the amount of settling that was taking place. Bryant says testing eventually revealed something fairly common to the area, yet unprecedented in its condition. "The presence of that deep layer of saturated, unconsolidated, diatomaceous material that made up as much as 50 to 80% of the lacustrine deposit, we had no experience with materials such as this. If the area had performed within the range of normal soil mechanics, we likely wouldn't be here today." Those problems have resulted in millions of dollars wasted on a project that will never be completed. "We had $17 million appropriated to the project by the Commission, for project development and construction. Construction was, I think, $13 million total. And, we had spent, to-date, just over $10 million- 10 and a half." Bryant says ODOT needs about half of the remaining budget to decommission the site, since the existing conditions precludes further work, "It would be very difficult for us to figure out a way - to design a way to use the existing mechanically stabilized earth walls and abutments to build a similar bridge in this location, with high enough level of certainty that we would bring that recommendation to you as a Commission."
After hearing all the testimony, the Commission voted to decommission the site, although they decided to wait until a later time to reallocate the remaining funds.
Photo: Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney chairs Oregon Transportation Commission, Oct. 19, 2017