ODOT: Repairs needed on Bridge of the Gods

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. - A bridge over the Columbia River Gorge often used by semi trucks is in need of repair.

The Oregon Department of Transportation dramatically lowered the weight limit on the Bridge of the Gods just west of Cascade Locks and Stevenson, Wash.

Vehicles weighing more than eight tons are not allowed to cross the bridge. A few weeks ago, the weight limit was 40 tons.

During bridge inspections, ODOT engineers found dozens of bridge gusset plates and stringers that need to be replaced or refurbished.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said the bridge is safe as long as drivers follow the weight restrictions. The Port of Cascade Locks commissioners agree.

The weight restriction excludes nearly everything except cars, pickup trucks and motorhomes.

"Any bridge, any structure is only as strong as its weakest link. And this is clearly an issue with Bridge of the Gods, there are elements of the bridge that are areas of concern, so that we really needed to reduce the load limits on it," said Hamilton.

Before the new weight restrictions, about 100 semi trucks crossed the bridge each day, Hamilton said. Many of those trucks now have to use Washington's Highway 14, which is a narrow road.

The repairs will cost about $500,000 and should be done by the end of the year, Hamilton said.