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Community Leaders Celebrate Groundbreaking of I-205 Abernethy Bridge Project to Increase Safety and Seismic Resiliency

PORTLAND, OR — The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), alongside community leaders and residents, hosted a groundbreaking celebration to share details of the I-205 Improvements Project and how it will benefit the region and Oregon’s economy. The project is kicking off with seismic upgrades to the Abernethy Bridge that spans the Willamette River linking Oregon City and West Linn.

The I-205 Improvements Project is Oregon’s largest interstate investment project in nearly 45 years. It will increase safety, reduce congestion, and upgrade or replace nine bridges to be seismically resilient in the case of a major earthquake. The project is part of ODOT’s Urban Mobility Strategy, a cohesive approach to make everyday travel safer and more efficient in the Portland metropolitan area.

“For decades, the freeway network in the Portland metropolitan area has largely remained frozen in time, even as our population, and congestion, have steadily grown,” said Kris Strickler, Director of ODOT. “With the support of the legislature and the local community, this project will reduce congestion and make the Abernethy Bridge a lifeline route in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.”

I-205 Improvements Project Diversity Goals
  • A minimum of 14 percent of contract dollars for the project will go to disadvantaged business enterprises, which translates to over $62 million invested in minority-owned and/or women-owned businesses.
  • The project will develop a career pipeline for the local workforce through a goal of 20 percent of hours worked by those in apprenticeship programs.
  • Five percent of workforce hours must be performed by members of the Grande Ronde Tribe.
Reliable, Family-Wage Jobs
In addition to supporting small businesses, this project is the first in the United States to participate in a pilot program under the Federal Highway Administration to increase workforce development opportunities with a local hiring preference in economically distressed zip codes in Multnomah, Marion, Clackamas, and Washington counties.

Economically distressed zip codes often experience lower income levels and lower employment levels. ODOT expects 8 percent of the total 1.1-1.5 million labor hours will be from residents of identified zip codes, resulting in over 100,000 hours of career-building work. A worker from one of the preferred zip codes could start at an apprentice level and even move up to a journey level — the average wage which is $66,000 a year.

I-205 Improvements by the Numbers
  • There are more than 100,000 travelers that drive in this corridor daily.
  • 150 crashes occur on this stretch every year.
  • Travelers in this corridor also experience nearly seven hours of delay each day. If ODOT does not do anything, that number is projected to jump to 14 hours each day in the future.
  • This phase of the project begins with creating deeper foundations for the Abernethy Bridge to make it seismically resilient in case of a major earthquake.
  • The new columns will be drilled 200 feet below the water surface.
  • The columns will be 12 feet in diameter.
  • The height of these concrete columns would be equivalent to a 20-story building.
  • The size of the columns is larger than anything built in the Portland metropolitan area. They are larger and deeper than other infrastructure projects in the United States.

The start of construction begins the estimated six-year timeline to improve safety, traffic flow, and seismic resiliency on the I-205 corridor.

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