Northwest NEWS

July 29, 2002

Front Page

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Woodinville-Duvall Bridge repair ahead of schedule

Structure set to open to traffic Sept. 21
   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor
   DUVALL - The Woodinville-Duvall Bridge will reopen on Saturday, Sept. 21, over a week earlier than the originally scheduled date of Sept. 30.
   The bridge has been closed for a substantial repair project since June 24. The structure, built in 1951, had been deteriorating over recent years due to heavy truck loads and increased traffic. The bridge carries about 17,000 vehicles per day.
   The project will improve the structural capacity of the bridge girders, repair the bridge deck and increase the load capacity.
   But construction supervisor Sam Bellah said last week that the bridge is actually in better shape than engineers originally thought.
   "Considering the bridge has been overloaded for 15 years," he said, "its condition is not that bad."
   Bellah said the bridge had been designed by a well-known engineer at the time, Homer Hadley, who had also designed the first floating bridge across Lake Washington.
   "It has beautiful lines," he said.
   However, he added, the bridge will have to undergo a complete replacement in 25 years.
   "Concrete bridges are designed to last about 80 years," he said.
   Bellah said most of the work up until now has been under the bridge.
   "The workers have been finishing up the steel on the main span and that has been coming along just fine," he said. "The welders have been working 14 hours a day, seven days a week, and some are beginning to burn out. Plus, the heat has been hard on them."
   Bellah said the "big push now is getting the deck ready for the overlay, but the scaffolding has to come down before anything can be poured."
   The first pour is scheduled for Aug. 5 and the second pour (a two-inch thick high strength concrete overlay) for Aug. 8. Currently the deck is covered with plastic to keep it damp.
   Bellah said the deck will undergo scarification before the pours, which will take off 1/2 inch of the top layer.
   "That also helps us find any pressure cracks in the concrete or rusty rebar," he said.
   Following the deck overlay, he said, work will begin on the curbing and the bridge rail and some minor as- phalt additions to the approaches.
   King County Road Services Engineer Bob Lee said the public will see much more activity on the topside of the bridge over the next few weeks. Both Lee and Bellah worked on the Novelty Bridge replacement project.
   According to Paulette Norman, acting county road engineer, additional hours of flagging would be beneficial in reducing delay on Northeast 124th Street. She said county staff has been monitoring the conditions and has recently instructed the traffic control officers/flaggers at Northeast 124th Street/SR 203 to extend flagging an additional hour, until 8 p.m., to help clear out the queue that persists after the afternoon weekday commute.
   Norman said the county is also requesting a traffic control officer to flag on Sunday afternoon between 2 and 6 p.m. The officer will assess the traffic situation and determine to what extent their presence is needed to keep traffic moving on Northeast 124th Street.
   If needed, she said, the county will continue to maintain this post for the remaining weeks of the closure.
   At the intersection of Southeast 203rd Street/SR 203 in Snohomish County the traffic control officers have been instructed to take a more active role in flagging vehicles through from Southeast 203rd Street and to not allow queues to back up for as long as they have recently, Norman said.
   Traffic conditions will continue to be monitored, including observing midday weekday conditions to determine if additional or changes in flagging hours is warranted.
   "We have made and continue to make every effort to reduce the length of closure," she said. "There are incentives in the contract for earlier opening and we are doing everything we can to ensure the contractor's success. County staff is closely monitoring the construction progress and I am pleased to report that at this time the project is slightly ahead of schedule. However, there is still a lot of work remaining. Until the hydro blasting of the deck is completed and the redeck pour is firmly scheduled, we anticipate that the contractor will need all the remaining available time to reopen the bridge on Sept. 21 as scheduled."
   Norman said some of the concerns the public are hearing about the schedule may be due to the type of work that has been underway. A majority of the work had been occurring under the bridge and out of sight of commuters and passers-by. Therefore, it may appear from the street level that there are few or no workers on site.
   In addition to the extensive coordination with emergency response staff, the county is paying $10,000 for the temporary relocation of EMS to the fire station in Carnation /Duvall auxiliary fire station on Big Rock Road during the day, according to Duvall Fire Chief John Lambert's office. The additional paramedic staffing provides a 24-hour, two-paramedic unit.