Allie Colosky
The Bulletin

The city of Prineville is set to replace the Elm Street bridge over Ochoco Creek, and the state is going to reimburse most of the $2.3 million project.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to enter an agreement with ODOT, allowing ODOT to pick up 90 percent of the tab.

The timber on the bridge is in poor shape due to decay, said ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy, and it’s finally time for the Elm Street bridge to be replaced.

The bridge is one of eight city-owned bridges that cross the Ochoco Creek, seven of which have already been replaced. The majority of the bridges were damaged and replaced following the big flood of 1998, City Engineer Eric Klann said.

“This is the last one,” he said.“This is a project we’ve been working on for more than a decade, so it feels good when you finally can get something going.”

The city will soon put out a request for proposals to find the best design for the new bridge. After a design is selected this summer or early fall, the project will be put out to bid. City staff hopes to choose a contractor in spring 2019 and begin construction next summer, Klann said.

“I am really hoping to hit our goal of 2019,” he said. “That’s fairly aggressive but we should be able to hit it if everything goes as planned.”

The current Elm Street bridge design includes pile-driven timbers in the bed of Ochoco Creek. The timbers then act as a barricade when any debris floating in the water gets caught on the poles. The debris barricade can then push water out and away from the creek and into the floodplain, where multiple homes and a fire station are threatened.

The flooding has also washed out sidewalks around the bridge, Klann said.

“This should help our floodplain issues,” he said. “It will remove some of (the poles), getting rid of a bottleneck in the system. This could potentially have a big impact on our citizens.”

The state-funded local bridge program allows ODOT to reimburse the city for $2.1 million of the total $2.3 million project.

Replacing the bridge could have an even larger impact on residents in Prineville, Klann said. A new bridge design that reduces flooding could help property owners in the immediate area if the Federal Emergency Management Agency redraws the floodplain at the completion of the project. Owners of properties removed from the floodplain could save money on costly flood insurance, he said.

“This will be a fun project,” Klann said. “I’m excited to get a good-looking bridge in there.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7829,