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Frequently Asked Questions - Simpson Avenue Bridge Pier Repair

How did the bridge reach its current condition?

This bridge has carried traffic over the Hoquiam River for over 80 years. This bridge is a movable bridge, and the structural orientation of various bridge parts makes it uniquely difficult to look inside the piers.

Adding to that difficulty is the fact that the piers are underwater in a murky slough that complicates inspection efforts. That said, this bridge is on a five-year cycle for underwater inspections and was last inspected January 2008. That inspection did not reveal the scouring and degradation of the pier we are seeing today.

Further, WSDOT rehabbed the electrical and mechanical portions of the bridge in 2008 and our maintenance crews have kept the bridge functional and operating over the last eight decades. The issue today is neither electrical or mechanical.

Is it safe for bicyclists and pedestrians to use it?

At this time, pedestrians and cyclists are not being allowed to use the bridge.

Are marine openings for over-height vessels still available?

WSDOT will be allowing the Simpson Ave Bridge to open for vessel traffic one time per day until further notice. These openings will be available at High Slack Tide and will be a single span (west side only) opening. Find out when today's opening is here.

What is the detour?

The detour uses the nearby Riverside Bridge – which is reconfigured to carry one lane of traffic in each direction.

What is the condition of the detour – Riverside Bridge?

The Riverside Bridge carries 15,000 vehicles a day westbound. It poses no restrictions for weight but does not allow wide loads. Given that the Simpson Avenue Bridge carried all eastbound traffic and now the Riverside Bridge is a single-lane in each direction, the capacity is not as high, so delays can be expected.

Can I take a travel trailer or motorhome on the detour route?

Yes, vehicles pulling travel traliers and motorhomes are able to use the detour route.

How long will the bridge be closed?

WSDOT is still analyzing the problem. Once a repair is identified, WSDOT will work with the city and legislators for funding. WSDOT is in hopes of reopening the bridge by November.

What are the long-term plans for the bridge?

WSDOT is moving forward with plans to tie back the pier using large steel cables. Though it will not provide enough support to allow vehicles on the bridge, it does provide some stability to the pier, which is necessary for future work. WSDOT is also designing a permanent fix to the bridge and hopes to have it complete by November.