Effective today, March 5, loads over 80,000 pounds gross combination weight are prohibited. The restrictions that go into effect tomorrow also limit triple-axle weights to 36,000 pounds; tandem-axle weights to 27,000 pounds; and solo vehicle weights to 44,000 pounds.
The bridge, which carries more than 23,000 vehicles a day, a quarter of them commercial vehicles, needs immediate repairs because cracks have broken the bond between the reinforcing steel and the concrete. The means the load is transferred to the reinforcing steel, forcing it to carry twice the load for which it was designed. The bridge was only designed to handle up to 72,000 pounds when it was built in 1957. Today it's handling permitted loads of up to 98,000 pounds.
The Oregon DOT issued the following detour for loads of 64,000-80,000 pounds. Wide loads are not allowed on the I-5 bridge or this detour.
Southbound traffic: Leave I-5 at Exit 103. Turn right (west) on Riddle Bypass Road (Douglas County Road 20). Turn left (south) on Main Street (Douglas County Road 21). Rejoin I-5 southbound at Exit 98.
Northbound traffic: Leave I-5 at Exit 99. Turn left (north) on Main Street (Douglas County Road 300). Turn right (east) on Gazley Bridge Road (Douglas County Road 35A). Turn left (north) on Gazley Road (Douglas County Road 35). Rejoin I-5 northbound at Exit 102.
The DOT asks truckers to please watch out for children along the detour route, which is through a residential area.
Engineers expect the repairs will take at least four weeks to complete. However, this would only be a temporary repair. Fords Bridge will need to replaced within the next three to five years, they say.