Costs Avoided: Protecting Habitat During Heavy Highway Construction
Oregon is bridging the needs gap by investing $3 billion to repair or replace roads and bridges throughout the state, including hundreds of state and local bridges. To accomplish all the environmental permitting in record time, the ODOT collaborated with 11 state and federal partners to create and implement environmental programmatic permitting.
Occasional variances to the standard environmental permits allowed the Oregon DOT to take above-and-beyond actions that benefited natural resources. For example, when replacing the old Willamette River bridges (pictured) a variance allowed contractors to saw-cut columns without the need for intrusive containment structures. Without the variance, there would have been large disturbances to the stream beds as well as high amounts of turbidity in the water.
Geoff Crook is environmental program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, Major Projects Branch, Salem, Ore.
Jason Neil is deputy program manager for the Oregon Bridge Delivery Partners, Salem, Ore.