An open house will be held Thursday to discuss plans for repair of the Lithia Way bridge over Water Street near the downtown Ashland Plaza.

An open house will be held Thursday to discuss plans for repair of the Lithia Way bridge over Water Street near the downtown Ashland Plaza.

The open house is scheduled for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the Plaza Inn and Suites, 98 Central Ave. Project plans will be shown and staff will be available to answer questions.

The bridge, which handles northbound traffic on Lithia Way near the Ashland Plaza, needs strengthening and repairs to avoid being load-limited to heavier vehicles, including commercial and fire trucks.

"If we don't fix the bridge, Ashland's economy will suffer," ODOT project leader Jayne Randleman said in a press release. "Our goal is to reduce construction impacts, and get out before the busy tourist season begins."

Contractor Wildish Standard Paving expects to start work later in March, when temperatures warm to more than 50 degrees. The is supposed to be completed by May 15.

The first stage of the project will occur under the bridge, where the contractor will inject an epoxy-based glue in the interior girders and cross beams. Lithia Way traffic will not be affected. However, ODOT expects that work will require a weeklong closure of Water Street to all vehicles.

That will be followed by work on the top of the bridge for several weeks, when asphalt will be removed and drilling and shear anchors will be installed. Finally, the bridge deck will be repaved with asphalt. During these stages, traffic will be limited to a single lane on Lithia Way.

For more on the project, see the ODOT website at www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION3/water_street_bridge.shtml.