Thursday, November 30, 2023

Despite extra work caused by cold winters, regional repair project creates smoother ride on 17 bridges

By David Rasbach

If the past two winters seemed a little more harsh than usual to you, our bridges felt it, too.

Earlier this month, we wrapped up construction on our Northwest Region Strategic Concrete Bridge Deck Preservation project. The original design called for repairing or replacing 6,960 square feet of damaged concrete sections along 17 bridges throughout King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Crews smooth a new section of concrete on westbound South Columbia Way bridge over I-5 in Seattle.

When our contractor, Combined Construction Inc., completed work in mid-November, the area repaired had grown by more than 75 percent to 12,204 square feet. The biggest reason for that increase was the damage to the concrete caused by the cold temperatures seen during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 winter seasons.

Before the project made repairs, many of these concrete bridge decks had temporary patches covering old potholes and ruts. Removing damaged and patched areas and replacing them with new slabs of concrete helped preserve the bridges, extend their lifespan and provide a smoother ride.

Crews repaired damaged sections of 17 bridges across four western counties including the South Spokane St. on-ramp to southbound I-5 in Seattle.

Despite the increased workload courtesy of Mother Nature, we were able to make repairs in less than half the 87 work days allotted, lessening the inconvenience to people who use the bridges we repaired. Combined Construction lived up to its name, combining with us and a local concrete design specialist to create a concrete mix that would cure in just 12 hours. That allowed us to reduce the number of weekend-long closures needed from the 17 originally planned to just nine.

Some of the bridges we repaired included:

  • The Cornell Creek and Glacier Creek bridges along State Route 542/Mount Baker Highway in Whatcom County.
  • The Baker River bridge along SR 20/North Cascades Highway and the SR 9 bridge over the Skagit River in Skagit County.
  • The Interstate 5 and Alderwood Mall Boulevard bridges over SR 524 in Lynnwood, along with the SR 203 bridge over the Skykomish River and the US 2 bridge over the South Fork Skykomish River in Snohomish County.
  • The I-90 bridges over Raging River and East Fork Issaquah Creek in King County.
  • Several bridges over I-5 south of Seattle, including the Spokane Street Viaduct/South Columbian Way bridges and ramps.

We recognize that even though crews were able to get a lot of work done in a shorter amount of time, anytime roads are disrupted it can be a hassle. We appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperations as we were able to get so many bridges repaired!