EUGENE/SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) celebrated the completion of the Interstate-5 Whilamut Passage Bridge on Friday. ODOT said the event marked both the bridge’s completion, as well as, celebrated the savings of up to $12 million dollars, about four months of time and more importantly, the culmination of years of collaborative work.
Spanning the Willamette River, I-5’s newest bridge will serve as more than just a connection. That was the message, as people gathered just feet from the freshly completed Whilamut Passage Bridge.
ODOT Director Matthew Garrett said, “I think it’s important to remember that these things don’t just happen. They happen because of very dedicated people.”
“It’s truly a tribute to your hard work as a community, everybody coming together, everybody doing everything you can to improve your community,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez.
The parties involved said this project was about more than just a bridge. Speaker after speaker emphasized how much the project has provided and will provide this community in jobs, revenue and even personal pride.
“The bike paths and pedestrian accesses are improved with the beautiful bridge in the backdrop and a beautiful park around. It’s no wonder that people will continue to love this place and say we made it better,” said Oregon State Representative Nancy Nathanson.
And since the name, Whilamut, is an honor to the area’s first indigenous people, the Kalapuya, it is even more than just a link between places.
“Bridges are the art of connection and again it’s just connecting over a river here, but we’re also connecting communities, connecting people, and past to present as well,” said Garrett.
Traffic is currently just on the southbound bridge. While the bridge is completely finished, the northbound side won’t be open to the public until August 8th.