The Thurston County Board of Commissioners today approved an agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation for use of a temporary bridge structure called a Bailey bridge that will allow the
L-4 Bridge on Littlerock Road SW to re-open until construction of a new permanent bridge structure begins later this summer.
"Everyone here at the county knew that having the bridge closed was a heavy burden on the residents and businesses in the area. I'm very pleased that our partners at WSDOT were able to offer us this temporary bridge. It will keep traffic flowing for at least a few more months until construction on the permanent bridge begins," said Thurston County Commission Chair Karen Valenzuela.
The L-4 Bridge on Littlerock Road SW located between 110th Avenue SW and 93rd Avenue SW was first closed on Monday, January 27 after structural deficiencies were discovered. Engineers found the soil and footing under the center pier of the 1950s vintage bridge had been washed away by scour, making the pier unstable and causing the bridge deck to sag in several places. Engineers determined that the bridge was in danger of collapsing with the weight and stress of continued vehicle traffic, and the bridge was closed to protect the public's safety.
The bridge re-opened briefly on February 19 to passenger vehicles after work was done to temporarily stabilize the pier and the bridge deck enough to support light vehicles. Despite signs limiting speeds and restricting heavy vehicles from the bridge, several heavy trucks were seen using the bridge. Because the temporary fixes were not designed to withstand the stress and weight of heavy trucks, crews were forced to close the bridge again less than a day later to prevent any further damage to the bridge and protect the public's safety.
"We listened to the community and really took their suggestions and ideas to heart," said Donavan Willcutt, Director of the Thurston County Public Works Department. "While we're really glad that our partners at WSDOT were able to help us get this temporary solution, the safety of the public is still our number one concern. We'll need their continued patience and cooperation to make sure this temporary fix is safe, and to make the construction process coming this summer go as smoothly and safely as possible."
Installation of the temporary Bailey bridge structure is expected to begin sometime next week, and area residents will receive a postcard with more information once the installation schedule is finalized by Thurston County Public Works and WSDOT staff.
Construction on the nearby L-5 Bridge will also continue next week. Engineers recently found scour under the center support pier and some cracking in the bridge structure that is similar to the damage on the L-4 Bridge, but not as severe. Traffic is restricted to one lane while crews work to stabilize the L-5 Bridge and prevent further damage. Get connected with Thurston County Public Works.
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