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Van Buren Bridge Replacement
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Van Buren Bridge Replacement

As has been announced by ODOT, the Van Buren Bridge replacement project is kicking off this month (April). The agency and its consultants have set up a website ( that they pledge will be kept up to date as much as possible.

November, 2023 Update:

Alternative bicycle route for temporary bridge:

As noted by ODOT, 1st Street will be one way for one block for vehicles both to the north and south. Pedestrians and cyclists, however, can go directly to Van Buren on the west sidewalks along 1st Street in order to access either the vehicle bridge or the dedicated bike/pedestrian structure. These sidewalks are now considered to be multipurpose paths, with room for pedestrians and cyclists (alert and careful of course).  I’m told that there will be appropriate signage to inform users. Also, there now are a traffic signal and a user activated signal crossing device at Van Buren and 1st Street so riders can turn east on either the bike path or vehicle lane. The bike path goes directly to the existing path beneath the Harrison Bridge.

There are multiple ways cyclists can access the temporary facilities:

From the northwest (like Osborn) — via Tyler east to 1st Street to either bridge.

From the west — via the traditional route of Van Buren Avenue; at 1st Street “high stress” capable riders can take the one lane vehicle bridge east to the highway 34 Bypass intersection, then left at light to the path or straight to the 34 shoulder. Be aware that the temp bridge is one lane with no shoulder and that there are no weight limits so expect more truck traffic than the old bridge had.

To access the bike path from the west, either go to the left lane of Van Buren and make a left at 1st to the bike path. Alternatively, take existing Van Buren bike lane to 1st, activate the crossing signal, cross and take the bike path.

From the south, get to and go north on 1st Street to Van Buren and take whichever route you’re comfortable with.

Bit of caution:  the bike path is only six (6!) feet wide, so please be aware of any oncoming users. If you’re heading to town, you can take either the bike/Ped path (to right of 34) or the customary Harrison Blvd bridge.

My experience working with ODOT and city staff on the quirks of this evolving transportation project has been excellent and they’re trying hard to derive and accommodate the multi modal details. There are probably going to be adjustments now and then so your understanding, patience and input are important. And before you know it, the expected “temporary life” of TWO YEARS will be over!  Let me know if you have any questions and observations.

-Steve Harvey

September 7, 2023 Update:

Project managers agree to schedule restriping changes and add “bikes on roadway” signs

July 20, 2023 Update:

Beginning this Friday, July 21, ODOT will begin clearing vegetation and trees to prepare for building a temporary detour bridge to bypass the Van Buren Bridge. With this construction, the west side path under the Van Buren Bridge has been fenced off and closed for bicyclists and pedestrians for the project's duration. The pedestrian path under the east side of the bridge has been closed since the project began earlier this summer.

For roughly two weeks, there will be a temporary southbound pedestrian route for those traveling by foot or bicycle on First Street that would like to access the park.

April 6, 2023 City Council Work session update:

Stage 1 – first 6 months; construct a temporary diversion bridge from Van Buren Avenue angling north to connect with Hwy 34 east.  It will have a pedestrian/bike way on the left side of the bridge that exits left to connect with the existing path.  Hamilton, the contractor, will establish staging areas on both sides of the river where signs and equipment will be sited;  expect path closures as this occurs.

Tree and vegetation removal starts this spring and will likely cause the path to be closed as well. Also, utility relocations have started.

Stage 2 – 7-12 months

Phase 1 – Remove existing bridge

Phase 2 and 3 – Construct the new bridge, using a “work bridge”

Stage 3 – next 4 months  Remove work bridge and temporary diversion bridge.  There will be some two-way traffic routed to the Harrison Street bridge.

Stage 4 – ___ months  Finish First and Second Street and complete all construction.

Public Involvement

Chris Watchie with Cogito Partners out of Eugene will conduct public involvement and work with downtown merchants and businesses to address impacts of the project that could affect business operations. Very soon there will be a series of online “open houses” launched that are static, not interactive; basically, folks can comment and submit  questions. This is to be explained very soon, I’m informed.  Public input will be directed to the contractor, Hamilton.

Updates will be posted on a website at

Other Project Issues/Topics

There will be periodic closures of the pedestrian/bicycle access to the east side path. Eventually the path will be re-constructed to raise its elevation so as to avoid flooding as much as possible.

There will be periodic street closures, primarily affecting 1st Street. Also, 1st Street will be one way south bound for an unknown time during construction.

There will be limited or no access at times.

There will be a traffic signal installed at the 1st Street/Van Buren intersection.


As of 5/8/23:  We are working with the project engineer, Markus Schaaf, to improve bicycling safety and awareness during this first phase of the bridge replacement project.  The measures are:

1.        Create an access or gap in the barrier fencing on the east end of the bridge so that riders using the bridge road surface can enter the protected bike lane eastbound to the hwy 34 bypass intersection.

As of 6/14/23:  Project engineer, Markus Schaaf, reports that the contractor’s traffic control personnel will not permit the barrier fencing gap to be created. This means riders choosing the vehicle traffic lane will take that lane east to the Hwy 34 bypass intersection and either proceed straight to the Hwy 34 shoulder or use the intersection signal system to reach the bike/ped path along the north side of 34.

2.        Improve signage on the west end of the bridge to make it known and clear that riders can ride the wood sidewalk and proceed directly to the protected bike/ped lane at the other end of the bridge. Signs should also make it clear to vehicle drivers that bikes can be expected to use the road across the bridge as they have done for many years.

As of 6/14/23:  Project engineer following up on this request.

3.        Improve the crossing markings at the 34 bypass intersection, both eastbound to the shoulder and north across 34 to the bike/pedestrian path.

As of 6/14/23:  Project engineer following up on this request.

4.        Urge ODOT to sweep the eastbound shoulder of 34 and to frequently keep it clear of grave, glass, debris etc.  Club riders are taking the shoulder east to Peoria Road.