Top: Construction workers set forms during the construction of the Rock Point Bridge. Below: A historical photo showcases the bridge’s guard rails.
Conde B. McCullough McCullough arrived in Oregon in 1916 to teach engineering at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University). A pioneer of the movement to create a well-planned American highway system, McCullough argued that bridges should be built efficiently, economically, and aesthetically. He became Oregon’s state bridge engineer in 1919. His legacy of beautiful bridges lives today and most of his bridges are considered significant landmarks. Historical photographs of Oregon bridges are available online at the ODOT History Center: www.oregon.gov/ODOT/CS/BSS/historycenter.shtml.
replace the concrete bridge deck and pave the bridge approaches. According to Steers, this last stage of construction work is expected to take less than two months to complete. Problems arose earlier this year when more deterioration was found in the historic bridge than the agency had anticipated. Incomplete drawings dating from the bridge’s 1920 construction added to the repair delays. Once it was apparent the rehabilitation project would not be completed within the original timeline, ODOT made adjustments to reopen a single lane of traffic for the summer tourism season. Bridge history The Rock Point Bridge was unveiled in 1920, a time when Oregon’s paved roads totaled only 620 miles and its designer, Conde B. McCullough, had barely settled in as Oregon’s state bridge engineer. McCullough would later go on to leave a legacy of beautiful bridges along Oregon’s coast. Both his trademark aesthetics and efficient,
custom-designed spans are present in the Rock Point Bridge. McCullough illustrated how form could complement function and the nearby landscape. Using a reinforced concrete deck arch, he designed a 505-foot span bridge over one of the rockiest sections of the Rogue River, hence the name Rock Point. According to Historic Highway Bridges of Oregon, construction was a challenge: “Because of the great depth of water at the bridge location, it was impossible to build falsework under the main arch span. The contractor (Parker and Banfield, Portland) solved the problem by building a temporary wood truss span over the bridge to give support to the forms.” The bridge’s south approach was replaced in 1953. In 2000, the Rock Point Bridge underwent expedited repair work to strengthen the crossbeams, which lifted a 10,000-pound weight restriction on the span.
For more information about the rehabilitation work, visit the project web site: www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION3/234_rock_point_bridge.shtml.
June 11, 2010