Last summer, core samples were taken from the main bridge supports of both the Templeton and Howard bridges. The results of those samples indicated that the timbers had been undermined by a fungal infection. Most of the fleshy parts of wood between the growth rings had been attacked. Structural engineers were consulted, and they recommended that the bridges be closed immediately, as no one could predict when they would fail.
While investigating the replacement of the bridges, it was determined that the footings did not meet current seismic code. Additionally, some of the footings had been undermined and were no longer fully supported. The bridges were originally constructed in 1954, and the decking was replaced in 2006.
Due to the location of the bridges over a ravine that feeds into the Willamette River – a sensitive environmental zone – the cost and complexity of the renovation project increased. Additionally, the Howard bridge not only serves as a thoroughfare for residents to the academic side of campus, but carries major utilities (sewer, water, and electrical) as well.
The Howard bridge will be replaced with a new bridge that will meet seismic and ADA requirements, include a roof and night lighting, is being sourced and manufactured locally, and is being designed and installed to ensure sustainability. The roof will reduce the amount of slip-related incidents by protecting the walking surface from excess moisture and mildew, as well as extend the life span of the bridge. The new impervious surface generated by the bridge roof will be mitigated by supplemental tree plantings within the disturbance area. The lighting will be located under the roof of the bridge to ensure that people can cross the bridge safely at night while also keeping excess light away from the environmental zone. Furthermore, the bridge will serve to educate students about environmental concerns. Informative signage will promote awareness of environmental issues, such as the protection and enhancement of the conservation zone and impact minimization.
During construction planning, it was determined that the Templeton bridge was not essential for campus use. It once served as an ADA pathway, but now that ADA pathway modifications have been made to the existing walkway under the Templeton Council Chambers, the bridge will be demolished and not replaced. Deconstruction of the Templeton bridge is currently underway. The cement footings will stay in place for environmental protection reasons; the effort to remove them would cause more damage to the ravine.