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Heave ho! Massive SR 522 bridge girders launched over Snohomish River near Monroe

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Date:  Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Contact: Kris Olsen, WSDOT communications, 206-440-4704 (Shoreline)
Janice Fahning, WSDOT Project Engineer, 425-225-8725 (Everett)

MONROE – With a mighty push, crews began a six-week process this month to propel three steel bridge girders across the Snohomish River near Monroe.

The girders form the backbone of a new bridge the Washington State Department of Transportation is building as part of a project to widen State Route 522 from two lanes to four. The work requires nightly, single-lane closures.

Crews must extend the girders 600 feet over the water and another 325 feet over land. Since there’s not enough room to place cranes along the riverbank or on a work barge, WSDOT is using a technique known as launching to push the girders into place.

“Launching the girders instead of lifting and setting them in place with a crane means we won’t need to completely close the highway or the river channel,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Janice Fahning. “Drivers will see significant progress but basically the same travel conditions they’ve experienced throughout construction.”

Due to the limited space in the construction zone, each of the three girders will be divided into six sections averaging about 150 feet long. Crews launched a portion of the first section July 14. After making some adjustments, crews finished pushing out the first section over the river July 27. Each week, new girder sections will be added until the entire assembly is complete. The three girders have a combined weight of more than two million pounds, each moving no faster toward its position than an inch per second. Once complete, the bridge will be more than 1,700 feet long.

The $159.7 million SR 522 widening project is one of the final projects in Snohomish County funded by the 2003 gas tax. Crews are adding one lane in each direction of SR 522 between the Snohomish River and US 2 in Monroe. The widening project includes four new bridges, a roundabout near 164th Street Southeast, a noise wall near 171st Avenue Southeast and a median barrier to separate eastbound and westbound traffic.

For more information, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR522/Widen/SnoRiver_US2. Photos of the widening project are also available.


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