News-Register Archive##This 2008 photo shows the underside of Three Mile Lane Bridge, which will be replaced.
News-Register Archive##This 2008 photo shows the underside of Three Mile Lane Bridge, which will be replaced.
By Don Iler • News Editor • 

ODOT to replace Three Mile Lane Bridge

ODOT said the 990-foot bridge, which spans the South Yamhill River along McMinnville’s southern edge, is a high priority project. It said the current wooden trestle structure, now approaching its 65th birthday, has reached the end of its functional lifespan.

The bridge has long been a focus of major concern for city and state officials. City officials have been lobbying for action since at least 2008.

ODOT sent survey crews earlier this week, scouting the situation. It has concluded the narrow deck, substandard rails and inadequate transitions combined to make the spindly wooden structure a top candidate for replacement.

Spokesman Lou Torres said the project is still in the early stages. He said one of the early challenges will be identifying a source of funding.

He said the hope is to break ground in 2019 and complete the project by 2021. He said the new structure would go in next to the old one, in order to avoid any disruption in traffic.

The current structure was built in 1951. It was one element in a flurry of construction triggered by a series of bridge failures around the county.

It replaced an even narrower bridge, also fashioned of wood, whose original aim was to connect McMinnville and Dayton. Featuring 24 timber crossbeams resting on 116 timber pilings, it cost $214,000 — less than the typical single-family residence today.

The bridge’s October 1951 unveiling was a signature event for the two beneficiary communities. School bands from both town played, and Dayton Mayor Carl Francis was joined by Miss McMinnville Barbara Rossner in cutting the ceremonial ribbon opening the span for traffic. 

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