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Four-week closure of US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge begins Oct. 22

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Date:  Friday, October 05, 2012

Contact: Kelly Stowe , WSDOT Communications, 360-357-2716 (Tumwater)

HOQUIAM – Halloween is still four weeks away, but crews making final repairs to the US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge are already thinking about Thanksgiving travels and holiday shopping.

Since July, the Washington State Department of Transportation has been readying the 1927-era bridge for a four-week closure to complete permanent repairs. Crews began repairs during the summer of 2010 after engineers discovered severe degradation of the timber piles that supported the bridge’s most easterly pier.

The closure is set to begin during the early morning hours of Monday, Oct. 22, and finish up before Thanksgiving. The 13,000 vehicles that use the bridge each day will be detoured onto the nearby Riverside Bridge, which will be reconfigured for two-way traffic.

“We understand the importance of this bridge to the community,” said Scott Ireland, WSDOT project engineer. “WSDOT and our contractor will work diligently to finish repairs and reopen the bridge to traffic before the big holiday shopping season arrives.”

During the closure, crews will complete the remaining stabilization work on the bridge by:

  • installing two additional pier supports at the northeast and southeast corners of the pier;
  • strengthening the walls of the existing pier;
  • transferring the remaining weight of the pier onto the two new supports;
  • removing the temporary tie-back anchors and cables;
  • and removing and replacing / the pier fender protection system.

When repairs are completed in late November, the US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge piers will be reinforced and the entire bridge will be more reliable for the traveling public.

Grays Harbor drivers endured a five-month detour when WSDOT engineers closed the US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge over the Hoquiam River in August 2010, after maintenance personnel noticed unusual movement of the bridge. During a follow-up inspection, bridge experts discovered the deteriorating timber piles. Crews worked from August 2010 to January 2011 to make emergency repairs and stabilize the bridge enough to reopen it to traffic.

During the next round of work, crews will complete the foundation repairs and raise the vertical clearance of the bridge from 14 feet to 16 feet 6 inches by replacing four low-hanging trusses that have been struck several times by trucks.

Motorists are encouraged to allow extra time for their commutes during the four-week closure of the US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge. WSDOT recommends leaving early, carpooling or taking transit. Drivers can check traffic conditions before they leave at Up-to-the-minute traffic information is also available via the voice-activated driver information line, 511.

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