YOUR GOVERNMENT: Marion County receives federal grant for River Road bridge repairs

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday, March 20, to consider accepting $7 million in federal money for repairs to the River Road bridge over the Willamette River.

The bridge connects Marion and Polk counties outside of Independence and is a major route for traffic between Independence and Salem.

To participate

The commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Senator Hearing Room at 555 Court Street N.E. Anyone can attend or sign up to give public comment at the meeting. People who want to comment must sign the speaker list at least ten minutes before the meeting. The meeting is streamed live on YouTube.

Bridge repairs

Marion County plans to spend about $7.8 million on a project to repair the Independence Bridge, with federal money paying for about 90% of the project, according to a contract.

Commissioners accepting the federal money will allow engineering on the project to begin. Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2026.

The bridge was built in 1951 and has a “significant amount of commuter and farm-related truck traffic,” the project description says. In 2021, the state Department of Transportation downgraded the load capacity on the bridge after an analysis, saying it would prevent overstressing the bridge.

The project will strengthen floor beams, repair the bridge rail, remove rust, repaint surfaces and replace deck joints.

Property appeal

Commissioners will decide whether to hear an appeal from property owners who want the land they own outside Silverton to be classified as two lots.

According to the commissioners agenda packet, Prohar and Evodkia Bodunov purchased two lots in the 21000 block of Northeast Abiqua Road in 2021, intending the lots to be building sites for their two sons. They recently learned the county considered the properties a single buildable lot and appealed the case to the county’s hearing administrator, who ruled against the couple in February.

The couple is now seeking to have the county commissioners review the hearing administrator’s decision. Staff recommended the commissioners do not hear an appeal, saying the couple has no new evidence or argument.

Other items

Commissioners will also vote on:

  • Appointing Rachael Federico and reappointing Jarrod Howard as Justice of the Peace Pro Tempore for the Marion County Justice of the Peace District with terms ending March 20, 2025. Both are attorneys in Marion County.
  • Authorizing an additional $1.4 million for the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Government’s housing rehabilitation program, which provides zero-interest loans to low-income homeowners in Marion County for improvements like roofing, structural repairs and HVAC. The program is funded through federal grants and the county would advance the money to the Council of Governments while waiting for the federal grant money.
  • Extending a contract with Chemeketa Community College for the SOAR program, which provides cognitive behavioral therapy and help finding employment for people with drug addictions who are returning to the community after being incarcerated. The contract totals $387,347 through June 2025.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.