It will be a much-welcomed improvement for the thousands who travel Highway 207 South of Hermiston. Oregon Department of Transportation officials announced this week the $8 million project will start in 2014, and will be performed in phases so it won't completely disrupt traffic.

The old 311-foot Hinkle Bridge has a list of serious flaws that made it necessary to be replaced as soon as possible:

  • Delamination, or crumbling, of concrete that is starting to expose rebar in some areas.
  • Severe cracking.
  • Spalling on concrete surfaces and edges.  Spalling is the process by which water enters cracks or finds it way between blocks or seams in concrete and causes the surface to flake off, much like paint.

The Hinkle Bridge was built in 1957, and considering the amount of traffic it's had to shoulder, it's held up remarkably well. The bridge crosses the Umatilla River about two miles South of Hermiston, about one half mile north of the 182 Exit off I-84.

The project is expected to take about three years. Officials said the time frame is based on still allowing traffic to still negotiate the structure; closing it completely during the process would result in serious traffic detours and delays.