Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Highways and Bridges in Northwest Oregon
by Erik A Knoder
Published Jan-22-2013

 
Highways and bridges are never absent from the news for long in northwest Oregon. Corrosive salt air, frequent landslides, and winter flooding take their toll on our transportation infrastructure. On the plus side, this provides jobs for people to design, build, maintain, and repair highways and bridges.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has five projects currently under construction or scheduled to start in 2013 in the region: Columbia County - Jones Road paving; Clatsop County - Mill Creek culvert replacement, Columbia River Astoria-Megler Bridge repainting, and West Humbug Bridge replacement; and Tillamook County - Wilson River Loop intersection realignment. The projected cost on these five projects is $38,062,000, with the Columbia River bridge accounting for more than half of that.

Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties (Region 1) had 90 people employed in the private-sector highway, street and bridge construction industry during the second quarter of 2012. During this period the regional average wage in this industry was $4,440 per month. That compares with an average of $2,751 per month for all industries and ownerships (public and private) combined.

Common occupations in this industry include construction laborers, construction equipment operators, civil engineers, and cost estimators. Some of these occupations are projected to grow well in Region 1. The number of construction laborers is forecast to increase 68 percent by 2020, equipment operators is expected to increase 21 percent, and cost estimators by 30 percent.

Since many roads and bridges are built by the government, it takes public-sector employees to do some of the work. ODOT (not counting the Department of Motor Vehicles) had 83 employees in Region 1 during the second quarter of 2012. They earned an average of $4,209 per month during that period, about $200 per month less than their private-sector counterparts.

Public or private, northwest Oregon's climate and terrain keeps workers busy maintaining the roads and bridges that, literally, support our local economy.