Project Management

2015 PMI Project of the Year Finalist: Building Bridges with Public-private partnerships

Alma Bahman, and PM Network Staff

The state of Oregon ranks as one of the top vegetable producers in the U.S. And to move all those tons of carrots, sweet corn, green peas and other produce, truckers rely on a complex network of bridges and roads that wind through forests, over mountains and across rivers.

The state's 6,700 bridges keep traffic moving—connecting millions of residents and powering an economy. But nearly half of the state's bridges were built before 1960. And in 2001, inspectors found cracks in some bridges that if left to deteriorate would soon limit weight loads and vehicle speeds. A 2003 Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) study estimated structurally deficient bridges would end up costing the state US$123 billion in lost productivity and 88,000 jobs over the following 25 years.

“In one case we had a bridge on I-5, the major interstate in Oregon, that was completely shut down for several weeks. We were routing traffic through a very small town,” says Paul Mather, highway division administrator and bridge oversight committee chairman at ODOT. “That was going to be our reality for the future.”

Oregon's legislature acted decisively. In 2003, it passed the Oregon Transportation Investment Act III (OTIA III), which allocated more than US$1 billion for the state's largest infrastructure upgrade program in 50 years. In an unprecedented …

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