4 years in the making: 'Whilamut Bridge' over Willamette completed

EUGENE, Ore. -- It's been almost four years since crews set to work reconstructing the Interstate 5 bridge that spans the Willamette River.

On Friday, state and government officials attended a completion ceremony for the northbound "Whilamut Passage Bridge".

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the new north and southbound bridges are expected to relieve congestion for cars and freight trucks driving in the area.

Traffic will start using the bridge in mid-August.

Crews set to work on the I-5 bridge reconstruction project in August of 2009. The bridges cost $204 million and were completed ahead of schedule.

"By finishing the bridge four months early, we saved taxpayers money and delivered important benefits even faster," Foxx said.

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined Rep. Peter Defazio at Friday's ribbon cutting.

"This new bridge will improve safety and strengthen the region's economy by expediting freight movement," said Administrator Mendez. "It's a win-win for people in and around Eugene."

The new bridge runs along Alton Baker Park and the Whilamut Natural Area. Part of the project funds landscaping projects throughout 2013, and bike and pedestrian paths that are slated for a 2014 completion date.

From U.S. Dept. of Transportation: The two bridges are 67 feet wide and will double highway capacity by accommodating three lanes of traffic with shoulders on each bridge. The deck-arch bridges are 1,984.8 feet long and stand 63 feet above the water.

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