Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hanging off the side of the Deception Pass bridges

If you crossed the Deception Pass bridges this week, you probably noticed that only one lane was open. Chances are you also saw some trucks parked on top of the bridges and wondered what they were doing there. No, they weren’t purposely backing up traffic. The trucks allow our bridge inspection crews – who you probably didn’t see – to hang off the side and inspect the Deception and Canoe Pass bridges.




Those trucks parked in the lane are very specialized trucks called UBITs (Under the Bridge Inspection Trucks) that allow our crews to safely access and inspect the hard-to-reach places. One of the trucks has a 60-foot wingspan, taking crews to the spots that many of us never want to visit. That’s probably because we have no desire to be dangling 200 feet in air, regardless of how scenic it is.

So why were our crews hanging off the bridges? From time to time we get questions about the age and safety of all our bridges, including those at Deception Pass. We are a national leader in our approach to inspecting and maintaining our bridges and structures. We aggressively inspect and maintain these structures to keep our highways safe and these critical transportation links open for the public and commerce.

Like all our bridges, the Deception Pass bridges are inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Every two years, the bridges are given a thorough inspection. Any changes in conditions and maintenance activities are carefully recorded. Our routine maintenance and inspections mean that the Deception Pass bridges will continue to be safe for you and your families now and into the future.

The Deception Pass bridges were built in 1935. Is 74 really that old? There are 226 other bridges on our state highways that are older. Sure, 74 may be old compared to other large structures on Whidbey Island or in nearby Skagit County, but here are just a few well-known structures that are still in service and celebrate birthdays around the same time (and a few that are much older):

• 208 years old: The White House
• 126 years old: Brooklyn Bridge, New York
• 123 years old: The Statue of Liberty
• 120 years old: Eiffel Tower
• 92 years old: The first Columbia River bridge on I-5
• 79 years old: Lewis and Clark bridge on SR 433 over the Columbia River
• 78 years old: George Washington Aurora Ave. bridge on SR 99
• 74 years old: Deception Pass bridges
• 72 years old: Bonneville Dam
• 72 years old: Golden Gate Bridge

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