ODOT finds creative solution in making Caveman Bridge more accessible

The Caveman Bridge in Grants Pass in undergoing rehabilitation work, the first since its construction in 1931. (KTVL/Genevieve Grippo)

The Oregon Department of Transportation is continuing the rehabilitation of the Caveman Bridge in Grants Pass.

Designed by famed bridge engineer Conde McCullough, this is the first face lift the bridge has received since its construction in the 1930s.

Concern over handicap accessibility on the bridge surfaced last year as ODOT consulted with the State Historic Preservation Office about how to maintain historical significance on the bridge while complying with the Americans with Disability Act regulations.

Now, ODOT is implementing a creative solution: shaving down a section of the bridge's arches in order to leave better clearance for wheelchairs.

"We're removing the 3-inch lip at those pinch-points, which will give enough space for wheelchair access," said Gary Leaming, Spokesperson for ODOT. "Not ideal, but it gives at least one inch shy of three feet in those pinch-points."

The narrowest part of the sidewalk comes at 12 points along the walkway, where the bridge's arches meet the sidewalk. These points leave a clearance of 2 feet 8 inches between the lip of the arch and the railing.

The removal of the decorative lip will extend the clearance by three inches, making the sidewalk 35 inches wide.

Leaming said the department has worked with the SHPO to ensure that the bridge holds its historic significance.

The five million dollar rehabilitation is expected to be completed in February 2019.

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