We’re going to clean and inspect the Deception Pass and Canoe Pass bridges beginning March 30, which got me thinking about our bridges and bridge projects. With 3,286 bridges – including overpasses and underpasses – that are part of the Washington state highway system, our crews have a big job maintaining, cleaning and repairing them to keep them in good condition.
What keeps our bridge staff so busy? We inspect every bridge at least once every two years. In fiscal year 2014 WSDOT inspected 1,892 bridges. Our crews look for cracks, rust and other deficiencies. We look at the paint, deck, rivets, expansion joints, bearings, moving parts, anything that could need repairs.
|Using two UBITs on the Deception Pass Bridge,|
as we did in 2009, helps complete the inspection
A bridge like Deception Pass can only be reached from above, so it requires what we call a UBIT – an under bridge inspection truck. As you can see, it has a long arm with a bucket that can go under bridges to show our inspectors what they need to see. These can also be used to make repairs. Often hovering over water more than 100 feet in the air, this is not work for the faint of heart.
That’s not the only challenge with our Deception Pass bridge work. Using a UBIT requires us to close a lane, but with only two lanes there, drivers will have some delays while flaggers control traffic through the only open lane. And given the size of the bridge, this is no quick and simple job. We’ll take two weeks to inspect the Deception Pass and Canoe Pass bridges, so drivers should start planning now. Crews will be on the bridges from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays beginning March 30. They’ll finish at noon on Fridays, with the last day set for April 10. The good news is we’re combining efforts with the city of Oak Harbor, which has its main water line on the bridge. They’ll inspect the water line at the same time we inspect and clean the bridge. If we did it separately, that could mean four weeks of lane closures instead of two.
Inspecting bridges with a UBIT often means blocking a lane,
particularly on a narrow bridge like Deception Pass.