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After several starts and stops, work on the Molalla River Bridge may soon be ramping up again

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) says it has put a contract out to bid to complete repair work on the Highway 99E Molalla River Bridge on the southwest side of town and that crews should begin resurfacing the pavement no later than the first week of July.

"We're getting there," ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said. "We just got some bureaucratic chores out of the way. There's been a lot of prep work going on there already."

DANIEL PEARSON - The Oregon Department of Transportation has asked for bids to complete the roadwork on the Molalla River Bridge just south of Canby. 
The Highway 99E Molalla River Bridge has been in a state of disrepair since December 4, 2015. Heavy rains and high winds pounded Canby for several consecutive days causing asphalt to peel off the deck of the bridge, which had just been repaved during the previous summer.

A defective waterproof membrane under the asphalt was to blame for the damage but ODOT officials were not sure exactly what caused the malfunction, Hamilton said.

ODOT crews spent the first two weeks of Dec. 2015 patching potholes on the bridge deck and repairing the membrane, but heavy rains again washed out the freshly-filled potholes. Since then, surface defects in the pavement have provided anyone driving over the bridge, especially those heading northbound, with a less-than-pleasant, bumpy ride.

When the storms peeled the pavement off the bridge a year-and-a-half ago, ODOT had just completed repaving Highway 99E from SW Berg Parkway all the way to Second Street in Aurora — that was new pavement that came up from the bridge.

One reason it's taken so long to repair is the wet weather experienced in Canby since the fall of 2016. ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie said there is very little the state agency can do to repair roads during winter months.

"When there is a break in the weather we can get out and apply some patch work but again long-time repair calls for extended periods of dry weather, then we can get pavers out and the pavement trucks moving," she said.

ODOT crews began doing prep work on the bridge on May 18. Hamilton said Canby drivers should expect lane closures when work finally begins in earnest on the bridge, and that traffic lanes are likely to be relocated as well "for a period of days."

"When work starts there will be some disruption but hopefully we will be able to keep it to a minimum," he said. "Hopefully, we'll get this finished finally and for good."

Hamilton said he could not yet provide details as to the cost of construction to the Highway 99E Molalla River Bridge.

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