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When the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge opened to the public in August of 2017, it connected parts of Salem, Oregon through an artful, winning combination of concrete and steel that has taken top awards in the industry.
The National Steel Bridge Alliance’s yearly Prize Bridge Awards recognize the best newly constructed bridges in the US. The Minto Island Bridge took first place in the Special Purpose category. It also won “Best Transportation Special Solution” at the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s 2018 Design Awards. The unique combination of awards — one for steel and one for concrete — highlights the complexity of the bridge.
It’s not unusual for a projects of this size to win a steel or a concrete award, but winning both awards is “…a demonstration of the truly unique character of the bridge and the engineering creativity to achieve the City’s vision of an iconic connection between parks,” said OBEC Project Manager Bob Goodrich. “The City wanted a bridge that was one-of-a-kind in Oregon, and the combination of precast concrete and structural steel allowed that vision to be achieved.”
This bridge doesn’t use exotic materials or construction. Its distinction is an engineering solution that combines stunning aesthetics with utility. Imagination and advanced analyses came together to create this original integration of steel, cast-in-place concrete, pre-tensioning, post-tensioning, and precast concrete elements —combined into a coherent structure that marries functionality and beauty. The project was further complicated by a constrained project site. The structure, which is located in a FEMA floodway, had to clear the 100-year-flood elevation, all while meeting the existing path grades, avoiding impacts to the “Eco Earth” structure near the bridge landing, and complying with grade limits outlined in the American’s with Disabilities Act.
“To my knowledge — and I’ve looked — there is really no other bridge that is similar except in the general sense. Minto’s unique combination of features was born of a unique combination of site constraints that we set out to meet,” said Jim Bollman, OBEC senior project engineer and engineer of record for the Minto Island Bridge. “Meeting all [of the constraints] simultaneously and with stunning style and aesthetics, and at reasonable cost, is the great achievement of this project.”
The Minto Island Bridge is the final key element in the City of Salem’s vision to connect their waterfront parks, spread over miles on opposite sides of the Willamette River. Renewal projects of the downtown waterfront now connect via the Minto Island Bridge to the downtown, and an extensive natural park situated on Minto-Brown Island.
“This bridge is a game changer for the City of Salem. Having the opportunity to be a part of a once-in-a-career type project like this was very exciting,” said City of Salem Project Manager Aaron Kimsey. “Most of our projects deal with buried pipe and asphalt, so to be involved with a project that will help shape Salem’s image, skyline, and waterfront for years to come was truly an honor.”