Hands-on public involvement in Elkton

The four pylons that mark the ends of the Elk Creek Bridge in Elkton are monuments to the town's history and to the community's direct involvement in the project.

As part of a larger effort to involve local schools, the project team challenged students at Elkton High School to design the pylons. The students interviewed family members and long-time citizens about what symbols they thought belonged in the design, and local artists were invited to the school assembly in which the project was discussed.

The winning designer, Richard Sanchez, then a junior at EHS, modeled a Douglas fir log, representative of the local timber industry, to form the pylon bases. To signify Oregon, the Beaver State, he fashioned the top of the pylons after beaver-chewed logs: pointed, with a texture made up of rough teeth marks and scratches. A grapevine entwining each log symbolizes agriculture and tourism, and four locally significant wildlife species - steelhead, elk, osprey and Monarch butterflies - are carved into the pylons.

Victory Builders of Roseburg, which has created sculptures and rock work for Disneyland and Las Vegas casinos as well as the Whilamut Passage Bridge, was hired to build the pylons using shotcrete, a sprayed-on form of concrete that is pliable as it dries. Once the concrete set, color was added.

ODOT Director Matthew Garrett joined dignitaries, elected officials, the media, students and other residents to unveil the pylons at a celebration in November 2008, marking the community's remarkable participation in the project.

Ashland's Art Deco gateway to Oregon

Ashland's cultural and recreational attractions make it a destination resort in southern Oregon, conveniently located off the first Interstate 5 exit for northbound visitors to the state. Because of its prominent location, the project team made a special effort to tie the bridge repair at Exit 14 to the life of the community.

The bridge was widened to include a center turn lane, a 7-foot sidewalk and an 8-foot bike lane that would accommodate the area's many pedestrians and cyclists. Light poles included supports for banners such as those displayed in downtown Ashland. The railings and concrete surfaces echo the art deco designs of the Ashland Springs Hotel and the Varsity Theatre, including 10-foot peaked pylons and stylized escutcheons.

Decorative treatments such as tinted concrete, stamped-concrete walkways, dark-sky-compliant lighting and an irrigated landscape of flowering bulbs, flowering pear trees and shrubs extended the scenic appeal of the bridge site to the surrounding area.

Gorge design guidelines complement scenic area

ODOT coordinated highway and bridge construction in the Columbia River Gorge for the first time when the bridge program replaced eight bridges on Interstate 84 in the National Scenic Area. The public, representatives of state and federal agencies, and adjacent counties collaborated with the agency to devise the I-84 Corridor Strategy.

When it was paved early in the 20th century, the original Columbia River Highway was the first planned scenic roadway in the United States. It featured 18-foot-wide bridges with handsome stone façades.

The design guidelines for the eight new bridges on I-84 hark back to these elegant predecessors on the now Historic Columbia River Highway. The designs include stately pillars and graceful arches. To create stonelike façades, construction crews poured concrete into a plastic form incised with irregular rock shapes, like those in a hand-stacked wall, and stained them to blend with the color of the columnar basalt prevalent throughout the Gorge.

Design elements beyond the bridges also received the I-84 Corridor Strategy treatment. A retaining wall 1,200 feet long to support a bicycle and pedestrian path was finished in the same Cascadian rock style. Guardrails of weatherized steel, which rusts to a similar pleasing dark brown, line the side of the road. And seven miles of cast-in-place concrete median barriers blend in nicely with the surrounding landscape, built low enough to preserve a scenic line of sight for drivers.