Al Gilson, communications, 509-324-6015
After flood waters closed a portion of State Route 21 along the West Fork of the Sanpoil River, Washington State Department of Transportation crews will begin installing a temporary Bailey bridge that will reopen the highway to traffic about 15 miles south of Republic in Ferry County.
WSDOT began preparing the area Wednesday, April 12, and bridge parts will arrive at the site during the weekend. Once installed, the bridge will be about 100 feet long and span the existing bridge. Site preparation and bridge construction should take about 10 days to complete.
Once the Bailey bridge opens, traffic will alternate across the single-lane span. Stop signs will be located at either end of the bridge, along with directions for drivers to allow on-coming traffic to clear before proceeding across. A reduced speed limit will be in place. Passenger vehicles and legally-loaded trucks will be allowed. Restrictions will be in place for oversize loads.
Engineers will have to wait until the river flow subsides before they can evaluate the extent of the damage and determine what repairs will be needed.
Made from high-strength steel, Bailey bridges are designed to be built using manpower alone. WSDOT has installed Bailey bridges to reopen a number of roadways in emergent situations, most recently in 2015.
The Washington State Department of Highways purchased their first Bailey bridge components in 1946 to build a 150-foot long bridge. These were re-used several times until three more structures were purchased from war surplus in March of 1956.