LINCOLN COUNTY — May Road Bridge, east of Waldport, is officially closed to vehicles.
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted on Wednesday to close the rickety, 53-year-old bridge between Highway 101 and Drift Creek Wilderness following a recommendation from OBEC Consulting Engineers that motorists be barred from traveling the bridge.
The decision came after the engineering consulting firm completed an inspection in October in which OBEC workers found the timber substructure under the bridge was in poor condition. Caps and pilings have decayed to shells and started showing signs of failure, including crush, in which the timber starts to deform, and checking, or cracking, of the wood.
“The consensus was, based on the consultant’s report, they recommended closure of the bridge due to safety issues,” said Doug Hunt, chair of the board of commissioners. “We felt that was an appropriate action.”
While inspectors found some parts of the bridge, like the wooden beams, to be in fairly good condition, they did find the timber deck and railing was decaying, among other defects.
To fix the bridge, the inspectors recommended, the entire substructure needs replacing, including timber piling, bracing and caps. However, the board of commissioners determined not only is there not enough money to make improvements to or replace the bridge, but that any projects on the bridge are far down the list of priorities.
“The board determined that there are not sufficient funds available, nor is the bridge a high enough priority with other bridge and road commitments and projects,” read the board of commissioner’s authorization of the May Road Bridge closure.
Residents who live near the bridge see the closure as a problem, despite knowing how dangerous the bridge could be. Six such residents of the Drift Creek Wilderness protested the closure in October, saying not only the bridge should stand but that the only other route around the bridge is a road some claim as barely useable. However, one resident of the area knew there was no saving the bridge despite claims that several hundred cars used it as recently as Dec. 11 when a power line went down in the area.
“Obviously, we can’t save the bridge for driving,” said Corey Johns, who lives in the Drift Creek area. “I would ask that the council [board of commissioners] consider some sort of alternative routes for our safety as Lincoln County citizens more than anything.”
The May Road Bridge is still open to bicycle and pedestrian traffic and will eventually be removed, although a timeline for its removal has not yet been established.