Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Historic 110 year-old East Trent Bridge says its final goodbye

By Ryan Overton

The East Trent Bridge has been through quite a lot over the 110 years since it was constructed on State Route 290/Trent Avenue in Spokane. In addition to accommodating daily traffic, the bridge – once known as the East Olive Avenue Bridge – has stood through two world wars, witnessed the transformative World’s Fair Expo ’74, and endured countless wind, snow and ice events.

The bridge was built in 1910 and was one of the first concrete bridges spanning the Spokane River. It is located near Gonzaga University’s campus and connects Hamilton Street to the west and Martin Luther King Jr. Way to the east.
An eye-in-the-sky look at the East Trent Bridge in Spokane.

Like an old vehicle, the cost of maintaining the old bridge is now more than the value of replacing it, and so now it’s time to bid farewell to the iconic, historical East Trent Bridge. New construction on the bridge actually began in early March but was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With low-risk construction starting back up, work is set to resume on June 1. Coinciding with the start of construction will be the almost four-year closure of SR 290/Trent Avenue over the Spokane River to demolish and rebuild the Trent River Bridge.
A 3D rendering of the design of the new East Trent Bridge.

Bird netting has already been installed to the underside of the bridge to keep birds from nesting before the bridge’s demolition. Now with June 1 approaching and water levels nearing a point where in-water work is possible, we can begin the bridge demolition.

With a closure of this magnitude comes significant detour routes for vehicles, truck traffic and those who bike, walk or roll.
The old East Trent Bridge in Spokane will be replaced starting June 1.

Large Trucks

  • Semi-trucks or those with heavy loads will have the longest detours around the bridge closure. Trucks traveling southbound on Hamilton Street and trying to head east across SR 290/Trent Avenue will have to continue south to eastbound I-90 and travel to the Freya Street exit and then head north to rejoin SR 290/Trent Avenue.

Small Vehicles

  • Smaller passenger vehicles will have the ability to take Spokane Falls Boulevard on the west end and then travel Martin Luther King Jr. Way to rejoin with SR 290/Trent Avenue to continue travels. An alternate route will be using Mission Avenue as a means to cross the Spokane River to get to Napa Avenue before rejoining SR 290/Trent Avenue.

Bike/Walk/Roll

  • Those who bike, walk or roll across the bridge will be able to use the Iron Bridge just to the north that connects along Iron Bridge Way. 

Construction during this project will be slow. Due to short windows where in-water work can be done, along with freezing weather in the winter months, construction is not anticipated to be complete until late 2023.
The East Trent Bridge under construction in February 1910 (photo from Washington State Archives)

While the end is a ways away, the new bridge once again will carry travelers east and west over the river. It will have lots to offer including three instead of four bridge piers which will reduce the drag and create a better flow of the Spokane River. Cyclists, runners, walkers and rollers will enjoy a shared use path, an in-traffic bike lane, and a pedestrian walkway.

And while we design our bridges to last 75 years, we hope this new bridge will be around for much longer, just like the last one.