Simpson Bridge closure starts Monday

The planned four-week closure of the Simpson Avenue Bridge and the detour on U.S. Highway 101 goes into effect Monday morning and is expected to be completed before Thanksgiving.

That’s the timetable set by the state Department of Transportation, which has been preparing the 1927-era bridge for the permanent repairs. Crews began repairs during the summer of 2010, causing a five-month closure after engineers discovered severe degradation of the timber piles that supported the bridge’s most easterly pier.

The 13,000 vehicles that use the bridge each day will be detoured onto the nearby Riverside Bridge, which will be reconfigured for two-way traffic.

“We understand the importance of this bridge to the community,” said a statement from Scott Ireland, Department of Transportation project engineer. “WSDOT and our contractor will work diligently to finish repairs and reopen the bridge to traffic before the big holiday shopping season arrives.”

During the closure, crews will complete the remaining stabilization work on the bridge by installing two additional pier supports at the northeast and southeast corners of the pier and by strengthening the walls of the existing pier. The remaining weight of the pier will be transferred onto the two new supports, removing the temporary tie-back anchors and cables, and removing and replacing the pier fender protection system.

During the next round of work, crews will complete the foundation repairs and raise the vertical clearance of the bridge from 14 feet to 16 feet 6 inches by replacing four low-hanging trusses that have been struck several times by trucks.

Motorists are encouraged to allow extra time for their commutes. Drivers can check traffic conditions before they leave at Up-to-the-minute traffic information is also available via the voice-activated driver information line, 511.