Who’s to blame for faulty Morrison Bridge repairs?

Decking on the Morrison Bridge needs replaced after repairs just two years ago

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A court battle will answer the question as to who is to blame for the need to replace the decking on the Morrison Bridge just two years after it was last done.

However, the county isn’t waiting for that decision to be made to replace the failing surface on a bridge that 50,000 cars travel on each day.

“I think it’s pretty ridiculous!” said Catherine Matthews, a commuter.

Temporary patches are keeping the Morrison Bridge useable until Multnomah County is able to replace its surfacing entirely.

Mike Pullen, a spokesperson for the county, told KOIN 6 they are suing the contractors on the original project, including Conway Construction.

Meanwhile, Conway Construction is suing the subcontractor, Virginia-based Zellcomp, who supplied the fiber reinforced polymer decking.

Joseph Yazbeck, Conway’s attorney, said the construction company just did what they were told to do by the county.

“My client followed the specifications. They followed Zellcomp’s instructions. They used the Zellcomp material, and it didn’t work,” Yazbeck told KOIN 6 in January.

In the meantime, Pullen said the county can’t wait to fix the failing bridge.

“We can’t wait for the litigation to run its course because we feel like it needs to be replaced as soon as possible,” said Pullen.

The county is now considering two options for the new surface: an open steel grating or a solid deck made of aluminum.

Pullen said the original deck was an open steel grating that degraded after 53 years of use.

The county has submitted a project request to the Oregon Department of Transportation to shift funds from future Burnside Bridge repairs to pay for design and construction of the new Morrison Bridge lift span deck. Any money the county gets back from the lawsuits will be reinvested into the resurfacing as well.

The Morrison deck repair project is estimated to cost $7.3 million, Pullen said.

“Well, we do apologize to our bridge users and taxpayers for the inconvenience of having to go through another construction project so soon,” said Pullen.

Local engineering firm David Evans and Associates will do the design work this time rather than the county.

Work is expected to start in the spring of 2015 and take nine months to complete.

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