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Sullivan Road bridge failing, legislators told

The Spokane Valley City Council hosted a special meeting Friday to ask local state legislators to help secure funding to replace the Sullivan Road Bridge.

The estimated cost to replace the bridge is $19.5 million. The city has $10 million in grant funding for the project. State funding was requested this year but wasn’t approved.

Sen. Mike Padden and Reps. Matt Shea and Larry Crouse listened to senior capital projects engineer Steve Worley discuss the importance of the bridge, which is located next to Spokane Valley Industrial Park and several local businesses that use heavy trucks.

The average daily traffic is 25,700 vehicles, and 23 percent of that is truck traffic, Worley said. The bridge is 60 years old and was designed to have a life span of 50 years, he said. “This bridge has some life on it.”

Bridge inspections have revealed cracks in support girders and the top surface of the bridge deck is coming off, he said. The surface of the bridge also has cracks.

The west bridge that carries southbound traffic is failing and had weight restrictions imposed in June 2011. Repairs completed in February allowed the restrictions to be removed.

An October inspection showed that the repairs are holding up, Worley said, but the repairs only addressed part of the problem. “This bridge is still deteriorating,” he said.

Worley said it will take two years to complete the design, environmental and permitting phases of the project. The city has permission to spend some of its grant money to start the process, which should be complete by this time next year, Worley said. “We are going through all the permitting as we speak,” he said.

The city has applied for a new grant for $3.5 million and will ask the state to provide $4 million or $7.5 million for the project depending on whether the grant application is successful.

Padden said the city has photos dating from 2005 that show cracks on the bridge and wondered why something wasn’t done to fix the problem sooner. Worley said the cracks didn’t start getting larger or appearing in critical areas until 2009.

Shea recommended that the city get letters of support for the project signed by as many groups as possible. Padden said legislators are always hearing about the North Spokane Corridor. “It is a smaller project than the north/south freeway but it’s more needed,” Padden said. “I think we need to, obviously, get that message to people on the transportation committee.”

The three legislators, all Republicans, told the council that what they could do for the city would depend on who wins the elections. “If we have a majority in the House, this will be funded,” Shea said.

“We have a lot of ideas about working in Olympia,” Crouse said. “It’s a matter of reprioritizing the money. Four million (dollars) is very doable.”

“Regardless of what happens in the election, we’re committed to this,” Padden said.

Mayor Tom Towey said he wanted to emphasize the safety aspect of replacing the bridge to help set the request apart from the constant requests for funding for the North Spokane Corridor. “I think the north/south freeway overshadowed Sullivan in past requests,” he said.

“We have to let people understand the seriousness of it,” said Councilman Chuck Hafner.

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