Drivers should expect some congestion and minor delays during work
FERNDALE – They say that beauty is only skin deep. But with a steel bridge, the top priority is not good looks, but a skin that protects the steel from the elements. For a bridge, that protective skin is made of long-lasting primer and paint.
When contractor Dunkin and Bush finishes painting the two bridges on Interstate 5 over the Nooksack River in Ferndale for the Washington State Department of Transportation, the bridges will be looking beautiful, but more importantly, they will be preserved and protected for years to come.
Starting Tuesday, May 27, drivers can expect nighttime single-lane closures in both directions of I-5 near the bridges between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., while contractor crews build scaffolding and wrap the bridges in plastic. Once the prep work is complete, crews will do the majority of the painting without lane closures, however there will be slightly narrowed lanes with the speed limit reduced from 70 to 60 mph for the summer.
Crews wrap the bridges in plastic to capture the old paint, rust and other debris so it can be disposed of properly and kept from falling into the river. They will then sandblast the steel above and below the roadway, apply primer to the bare steel, and paint it with several coats of bridge paint, which is designed to hold up under the elements.
Stripping and painting the bridges is weather-dependent. WSDOT’s contractor could complete the project in one summer if everything goes well, but that will depend largely on the weather and the speed at which crews can remove the old paint. The contract allows for two summers to complete the project if necessary.
The Nooksack River bridges were built in 1955 (northbound) and 1971 (southbound). They carry approximately 41,000 vehicles per day.
The $4.6 million I-5 Nooksack River Bridge painting project is funded through pre-existing funds.