Work on Simpson Bridge completed early, open Sunday

The Simpson Avenue Bridge is scheduled to reopen this Sunday, just in time for the traffic that accompanies clam tides.

The bridge was closed to traffic Oct. 22 and was expected to open some time before Thanksgiving.A detour set up on Riverside Avenue. The street was changed into a two-way road and all associated traffic was rerouted across the Riverside Bridge.

Construction and renovation work will stop sometime on Saturday and working crews will begin moving detour barrels and either covering or moving signs some time around 2 a.m. Sunday, according to Stephen Busche, assistant program engineer for the project.

“They hope to have the traffic pattern restored by 6 o-clock in the morning,” Busche said.

The project was part of a $4.2 million renovation to strengthen the support structure of the bridge. Examinations showed that many of the wooden support piles had been degraded by wood boring worms, to the point that the pilings wouldn’t support weight, which caused the bridge to shift slightly. The engineers set up a different support system for the bridge to make it safe and add more years to its service life.

The reopening comes just in time for the traffic with people headed to harvest razor clams on the coast. The bridge closure has been a hindrance to local businesses, said Brian Shay, Hoquiam City Manager. The Econolodge told the city that their business was down 20 to 30 percent, he said.

“I know the businesses downtown are very excited that the bridge will be reopened,” Shay said.