Spin Cycle: CRC Seismic Upgrades

Well, at least the half-life of lies being told to support the Columbia River Crossing is getting shorter.

In its morning printed edition of February 10, the Oregonian reported that state bridge engineer Bruce Johnson claimed that “no one had estimated the cost of seismically retrofitting” the I-5 bridges, and speculated that such a retrofit would cost more than half a billion dollars.

By that evening, however, the reporter who wrote the article, posted a blog entry acknowledging that such an estimate (1) had been prepared in 2006, (2) was produced by an expert panel including the quoted engineer Johnson, and (3) the cost was a fraction of the amount mentioned in the morning article.

The Oregonian February 10, 2014 (6am)
Richard Read
Obsolete Interstate Bridge must keep standing if Columbia River Crossing fizzles

Johnson [Bruce Johnson, Oregon’s state bridge engineer] said no one has estimated the cost of seismically retrofitting the Columbia River bridges, but he believes a project would be extremely expensive.

A new substructure would have to be built under the existing bridges for perhaps $500 million or $600 million, which would about equal the cost of the Columbia River Crossing’s bridge portion, Johnson said. The trusses would have to be strengthened, he said, and the drawbridge towers would need to be rebuilt for several hundred million dollars more.

Oregon Live, February 10, 2014, 6:27PM
Richard Read,
Columbia River Crossing: Commenters on Interstate Bridge story bash and praise the CRC (highlights)

Several readers were surprised by Oregon bridge engineer Bruce Johnson’s estimate that seismic retrofitting of the existing bridges would cost perhaps $500 million or $600 million, plus several hundred million dollars more to rebuild the drawbridge towers. In 2006, a panel of experts including Johnson concluded that a raw retrofit would cost between $88 million and $190 million, increasing to a range between $125 million and $265 million when overhead was considered. (Bear in mind that the CRC has spent $190 million on planning, so far).

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