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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Getting There: Trent bridge to reopen this week after 3-year closure, bringing relief to nearby businesses, nonprofits

The East Trent Avenue bridge, also called the state Route 290/Trent Avenue bridge, spans the Spokane River and is set to open Monday. In the background is the Hamilton bridge that connects I-90 to the University District, Gonzaga and East Mission neighborhoods.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Roberta Simonson and Samantha Fuller The Spokesman-Review

After more than three years of construction, a new bridge crossing the Spokane River on Trent Avenue will open to traffic this week.

The opening is happening sooner than expected. With 880 working days permitted for the bridge, the construction team completed the project in 578.

Garco Construction helped in shortening the timeline for the new bridge. The contractor decided to use rock paths in the river, giving workers better access when removing the old bridge.

The previous Trent bridge stood for 110 years, and was determined to be structurally unsafe.

“The concrete was failing. It was structurally deficient and did not meet today’s current engineering standards,” said Ryan Overton, Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman. “It had reached the end of its life cycle and had significantly outlived its life cycle.”

Although none of the old bridge was saved during reconstruction, there were a few design aspects used from the old design.

“It is a completely new bridge, but a lot of the style was kept intact,” Overton said.

The outside barrier and concrete stampings were replaced but kept the same design, along with the same arching cutouts on the pedestrian railings.

The new bridge is 520 feet long and 50 feet wide, said Jody Qualley, Washington State Department of Transportation transportation engineer. The bridge includes 5-foot-wide shoulders to serve as bike paths, a 10-foot-wide walkway on the south side and a 6-foot-wide walkway on the north side. It also has one lane for each direction.

Due to water levels, “we would only work in certain windows of the year,” Overton said.

Despite the project taking multiple years to be completed, the process went smoothly, transportation officials said.

“We were worried about some risks, but they did not become a problem for us,” Qualley said.

The project cost $25 million, about a $1 million less than expected.

The ribbon cutting will occur Monday at 10 a.m., and traffic will open either Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has high hopes the new Trent Bridge will last just as long as the last one.

Larry Reiner, assistant manager at Spokane Power Tool & Equipment located west of the bridge, is relieved the bridge will soon reconnect Trent Avenue.

“We have to send people west to go east. Our customers have been asking us for a long time now, ‘Hey when is that gonna open?’ and we’re glad they got it done before their deadline,” Reiner said. “It’s going to help business tremendously.”

Phil Altmeyer, executive director at Union Gospel Mission, located on the east side of the new bridge, said the shelter is “over-the-top excited” for the bridge to open.

The number of people coming to the mission’s front office dropped “tremendously” as a result of the bridge project, Altmeyer said.

“And getting here to the mission, people have been getting lost,” Altmeyer said.

“I can sympathize with businesses that have to shut their business down, or their business almost comes to a standstill,” he added.

Altmeyer wasn’t happy about the amount of time it took to build the bridge, but said he was satisfied with how the bridge turned out.

“I love the style of the bridge. I love the fact they kept some of the original look,” Altmeyer said. “It’s still like the old (bridge) in a way.”

Reiner, of Spokane Power Tool & Equipment, agreed.

“They did a beautiful job on that thing, cosmetically. She looks great; I can’t wait to drive over it,” he said.

Work to watch for

Colton Street between Holland and Hoerner avenues just north of the Division Y is closed for installation of a sewer pipe.

The curb lanes of Ruby Street between Sinto and Nora avenues just north of downtown will be closed beginning Monday through Aug. 10 for utility work.

Roberta Simonson and Samantha Fuller's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.