MENLO – Drivers crossing the Willapa River on State Route 6 will soon bear witness to a piece of history, as crews begin laying the original, 85-year-old structure to rest this week.
This week, daytime drivers can expect intermittent delays of up to 20 minutes while crews working with the Washington State Department of Transportation dismantle the old bridge from the top down. One-lane traffic has been using the new SR 6 Willapa River Bridge since April 30.
Removing the steel superstructure requires two large cranes working in tandem: One crane will hold the superstructure steady while crews cut it into manageable sections, while the second will swing the cut sections over SR 6 and onto a flatbed truck. The steel will then be hauled to a location where it can be safely dismantled.
Once the superstructure is removed, crews will demolish the concrete-and-steel piers. Demolition is expected to be complete in late June.
While some workers dismantle the old bridge, their colleagues continue to reconstruct SR 6. Contractor Rotschy Inc. is scheduled to finish paving the highway and open both lanes on the new bridge in mid-June. All construction is expected to be complete in July, although crews will return in October to plant additional landscaping, causing possible shoulder and lane closures.
The new, 36-foot-wide Willapa River Bridge will better meet the needs of today’s drivers and help improve traffic flow on this key connection between Interstate 5 and coastal communities.
The $6.3 million SR 6 Willapa River Bridge Replacement project is funded by the 2005 gas tax and other state highway-improvement funds. It’s one of five WSDOT bridge-replacement projects currently underway in Pacific and Lewis counties.