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Aurora Bridge earthquake work wraps up with final October push

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Date:  Monday, October 01, 2012

Contact: Carl Barker, WSDOT asst. project engineer, 425-225-8742
Jamie Holter, WSDOT communications, 206-440-4698

Residents should expect intermittent noisy night work through Oct. 15

SEATTLE – With steel and concrete work finished and repairs to two specially designed expansion joints nearly done, the State Route 99 George Washington Memorial Bridge (Aurora Bridge) is now better prepared to withstand an earthquake than it was a year ago.

“While no one can predict the magnitude or location of an earthquake, this work will help this vital north-south corridor to recover more quickly in the event of a significant quake,” said Carl Barker, assistant project engineer with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The Aurora Bridge, built in 1932, is a designated city of Seattle landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Crews are working to increase the bridge’s seismic resistance while maintaining the look and feel of the historic structure.

The current seismic repairs began in June 2011 and included work on bridge columns and girders in Queen Anne and Fremont and on the bridge deck that connects the two neighborhoods.

In Fremont, crews added more concrete to the girders supporting the bridge and wrapped the unique cross-shaped columns with a special material to increase seismic safety. In Queen Anne, crews dug deep into the hillside and encircled the bridge-supporting columns with steel. They also added more steel and concrete to the bridge’s skeleton to make it sturdier. On the deck of the Aurora Bridge, crews are replacing a bridge-wide expansion joint that rolls on bearings and repairing two others.

“We have nearly three dozen small expansion joints on this bridge but it’s these three large joints that allow for the real movement when the big one hits,” said Barker.

Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, crews will close lanes both day and night to chip out the joints and add new bearings and new wedges underneath the joints.

Neighbors can expect intermittent noisy work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weeknights. Crews are also planning a weekend-long closure Oct. 5-8 when the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed for its semi-annual maintenance inspection and traffic on SR 99 is expected to be lighter.

“We know nearby residents are anxious for us to be finished. When we are done, drivers and neighbors can rest easier knowing that this bridge is stronger,” said Barker. The majority of work on the project is expected to be completed by November.

The $5.7 million project was funded through the federal and state gas tax and built by Massana Construction, Inc.

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