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Bridge portion ready to roll

Tue., April 10, 2007

The wait could be over for an oversized chunk of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, stranded in Spokane Valley for nearly a month after tipping weigh station scales at 330,000 pounds.

The part, needed to connect the new bridge to land, was handed over to a new trucking company Monday after bridge contractors grew impatient with the original hauler’s attempts to bring the load up to state standards.

It had been stalled in the Spokane Valley after a five-state trip from Minneapolis en route to Tacoma. Although other states approved its passage, Washington officials balked, saying the trailer was inadequate for so much weight.

The plan is for three large cranes to transfer the part from Texas-based Big Boat Movers to Tacoma-based Omega-Morgan Rigging and Industrial Contracting. After the transfer, the part will roll through state at 15 mph on a trailer 16 feet wide. The trailer on which the load rides will likely be another 100,000 pounds heavier than the trailer the part rode in on, which made up roughly a third of the load’s net weight.

Transportation Department officials are cautioning Washington drivers to expect rolling traffic delays for four or five days. DOT is rigging the trailer with a global positioning transmitter so commuters can track the load on the Internet and steer clear.

“We’re going to try to make this have the least impact possible,” said Kelly Stowe, DOT’s Olympia spokesperson.

Most of the moving will be done during low-traffic hours, Stowe said.

The original hauler spent the last three weeks trying to modify its trailer enough to pass muster with the Washington State Patrol’s commercial vehicle division. Division officials ruled that the weight of the load was bearing down on too small an area and could therefore damage Washington bridges. Only if the load’s weight were spread over a wider area would officials allow it to travel to Tacoma.

Big Boat workers say they were close to meeting state requirements when the decision was made to shift to Omega-Morgan. The decision was made by D.S. Brown, the company that made the bridge part and contracted with Big Boat to get it to Tacoma.

Big Boat will return to Sioux Falls, S.D., to retrieve an identical part for the bridge’s other end.


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