Bridge can match setting.
The architects of a new bridge to carry Interstate 5 over the Willamette River in Eugene will be hearing the right message. "It's clear that people don't want a standard bridge," a consultant hired to gather public comments about bridge design says. "They want graceful, natural lines as part of a bridge that blends in with the surroundings. They want it to make a statement that you have arrived in the community."
And that's what people should get. The new I-5 bridge is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make one of the Eugene-Springfield area's most conspicuous pieces of civil engineering a thing of beauty as well as an efficient means of getting from one side of the river to the other.
Form and function are happily married in bridges all over the world - including in Oregon, where the bridges over coastal rivers and bays designed by Conde McCullough in the 1930s complement their setting and help make U.S. Highway 101 one of the nation's most scenic drives. People should expect no less of a bridge that will stand at the head of the Willamette Valley, a bridge that will announce travelers' arrival in both Eugene and Springfield, a bridge from which both Autzen Stadium and the University of Oregon's new basketball arena will be visible. The new bridge should communicate a sense of place to people crossing it for the first time, as well as to all of us who will see it every day.
The Oregon Department of Transportation hopes to complete the new bridge in 2012, and a design will be chosen next month. The cost of the various design options will weigh heavily in the decision, but the panel of state and local officials who will review the competing designs should bear in mind that people have said they want something other than a characterless structure like the temporary span that the new bridge will replace.
Another factor to keep in mind is the strong possibility that a new bridge will be built to carry I-5 across the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver, Wash. That bridge, too, should be worthy of its setting. It might be possible for the two bridges, one at each end of the Willamette Valley, to echo one another.
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|Title Annotation:||Editorials; I-5 span over Willamette needs aesthetic appeal|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Jul 27, 2008|
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