Getting There: Deficient bridge puts Valley in a fix
The percentage of structurally deficient bridges in Spokane and Kootenai counties is below the national average, but one of those deficient bridges is causing headaches in Spokane Valley.
The southbound bridge of Sullivan Road over the Spokane River was posted with truck weight restrictions earlier this year.
Generally, the restrictions ban trucks with short wheel bases compared to their rated loads.
Now, the Spokane Valley City Council is being asked to approve a $358,000 temporary fix. The issue will be discussed Tuesday.
At the same time, the city is seeking funding to replace the aging southbound span.
That bridge is one of 24 countywide deemed deficient in a recent nationwide report from the Transportation For America organization.
Local transportation officials said the Spokane area is making progress on fixing or replacing the deficient spans.
Two of them – the Interstate 90 overpasses at Havana and Altamont streets – were repaired this summer with rebuilt bridge decks and approach slabs.
The state replaced the Highway 27 bridge over Pine Creek south of Spokane last year.
Nationally, Washington ranks sixth best in the number of structurally deficient bridges with 394 out of 7,744 bridges being considered deficient, according to the TFA report. That is 5.1 percent of the state’s bridges that are deficient.
Across the country, 11.5 percent of all bridges are deficient.
Idaho has 373 out of 4,130 bridges that are deficient, or 9 percent of the state’s total. In Kootenai County, 10 of its 136 bridges are deficient.
There are 277 bridges in Spokane County, of which 24 were judged to be deficient at the time the report’s statistics were gathered, or 8.7 percent.
Spokane County is about to open a new Appleway Bridge at Stateline after the old bridge was demolished.
Elsewhere, a new bridge was completed last year on Chattaroy Road over the Little Spokane River. Two new bridges are planned on Little Spokane Drive at Wandermere and on Seven Mile Road over Coulee Creek, said Neil Carroll, county bridge engineer.
A bridge is considered deficient when one of its main components falls to a rating of 4 or lower on a scale of zero to 9.
While bridges can remain in safe use while deficient, a more serious concern arises when an aging bridge must be posted with weight restrictions, Carroll said.
The Post Street Bridge in Spokane has had weight restrictions for several years.
Pend Oreille County has the highest percentage of deficient bridges in the state with nine of its 52 spans being deficient, or 17.3 percent, the TFA said.
The issue has come up on a national level this month following President Barack Obama’s proposal to stimulate the economy with spending on transportation projects, including bridges.
Sargent Engineers, Inc., of Olympia, gave Spokane Valley officials options for removing weight restrictions on the Sullivan Road Bridge, including shifting all traffic to the eastern span and reducing it to one lane in each direction.
City officials said one lane won’t handle Sullivan Road traffic.
The preferred option is to add reinforcing steel to the bridge girders. So far, no outside funding has been identified to pay for the fix, said senior engineer Steve Worley in his report to the council.
U.S. Highway 2 from Farwell Road to Mount Spokane Park Drive will be closed during nighttime hours tonight through Wednesday night.
The closures will be from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. each day to make room for finishing a project to lower the highway grade so it can pass beneath the new North Spokane Corridor. Traffic will be routed to Market Street in Mead.
The state is also planning lane restrictions on I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass starting today, including the section from Cle Elum to Easton where traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction this week.
Also, blasting work will close the freeway at 7 p.m. for one hour tonight through Thursday along Keechelus Lake.
Other lane restrictions are expected through the construction zones there.
In Spokane, work on Mission Avenue from Hamilton to Greene streets should wrap up by Friday when the street is expected to reopen following reconstruction work.
Also, Wellesley Avenue from Milton to Ash streets should reopen on Wednesday. Wellesley from Milton to Belt Street is already open.
The Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign from Aug. 19 through Sept. 5 yielded 134 arrests for driving under the influence in Spokane and Pend Oreille counties.
Statewide, law officers nabbed 1,824 impaired drivers.