The bridge on Stringtown Road over Prickett Creek. Photo: Chas Hundley

STRINGTOWN ROAD - Washington County's Land Use and Transportation (LUT) department had plans to replace a small bridge that crosses Prickett Creek on Stringtown Road this summer.

Now, the the project has been pushed out to the summer of 2022, according to Heather Sturgill, a public information officer for LUT.

The bridge in question, located about three-quarters of a mile past the Stringtown and Gales Creek Road junction between Sylvia Lane and Prickett Road, was initially described as a "decaying timber structure" in a web page for the project published by the county in late 2017.

A map of the bridge location. © OpenStreetMap contributors

In a March 2019 email to the Gales Creek Journal, Sturgill noted that the bridge, built in 1961, is actually in good shape, but will be replaced with a wider concrete bridge.

Asked why it had been initially described as decaying, Sturgill said that language is used to describe all old timber bridges—even though, in this case, the bridge is in good shape—as a blanket term.

"The phrase “decaying timber structure” has been used for all of our older timber bridges as a blanket explanation for why we are replacing them. It does not come from the bridge inspection report. This is somewhat misleading," she said, noting plans to update the language.

The $500,000 project is funded through the Washington County's Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program 3e funding cycle from fiscal years 2018-2019 through 2022-2023. According to Sturgill, it's not out of the norm for project schedules to shift throughout that five year window due to a number of factors, such as design complications or need.

In a Bridge Inventory and Condition Report prepared in 2006 by LUT staff, the authors of the report noted that many of the county's bridges were built either entirely from timber structures or had timber components.

"Most of these timber structures have a variety of flaws. To protect the aging and deteriorating bridge inventory from further decay, it is critical to begin an aggressive bridge replacement program to ensure that these structures continue to link the county’s 1,300 miles of roadway," the report reads.

More information can be found at the county's bridge replacement web page. An open house is planned for closer to the construction date.

Additional information has been added to this article in the form of a map and more detailed location information.