Thursday, April 7, 2016

Holy bridge damage, Batman! Is this thing safe?

I-90 Front Street overpass repair coming up

By Lisa Van Cise

At the north end of Issaquah's Front Street, drivers have been gazing into - yes INTO - a hole in the Interstate 90 overpass for more than a year.

After a garbage truck hit the bridge in March 2015,  bridge inspectors completed a thorough evaluation and determined it was safe for drivers. While we've continued to monitor the bridge to ensure it remains safe to travel over and under, it's still an eye sore and hard to miss as you travel north from historic downtown Issaquah toward the freeway on- and off- ramps.

So what's the hold up on getting this thing fixed?

While construction work is less than a month away, work behind the scenes to replace the damaged bridge girder has been in full swing since the truck pierced the hole in the bridge.

A garbage truck punched a hole in Issaquah’s I-90 Front Street overpass but a project to repair the damage is scheduled to begin in May.

Replacing a bridge girder takes planning, designing, hiring a contractor for the work, traffic control plans, coordination with other projects in the area, removing the damaged girder and replacing it with a new one.

The most time consuming part of this process is creating the replacement girder. Unlike a hole in your favorite pair of jeans, engineers can't hit the outlet mall for a replacement. It is a specialty item and needs to be made specific to the bridge. With very few fabrication contractors in the region, the Front Street girder had to "wait its turn" so to speak.

Yes, it is possible to pay a fee and get the 114' girder to the front of the fabrication line. Since this isn't an emergency fix, and the bridge is safe for travel, we elected to save the money and not pay the extra fee.

Now that the replacement girder is built, contractors from Massana Construction, Inc. are finalizing technical plans to remove the old girder and install the replacement.

Construction is scheduled to start in May, and expected to last 48 days. When it starts, expect some road closures and detours so stay tuned as we near the start date.