State begins replacement of Puyallup River bridge

Project is supported in large part by federal highway money

Staff writerMay 7, 2014 

Beginning May 12, northbound drivers on the Puyallup River bridge will see the development of a new bridge as workers start building a temporary alignment east of the steel truss.

“We’re planning to move the steel truss bridge in late July (to the temporary alignment),” said Brenden Clarke, project manager at the Washington state Department of Transportation. “The new bridge will be built in the existing footprint of the steel truss bridge.”

On Thursday and Friday, Atkinson Construction workers removed the guard rail, set up temporary erosion control measures and put barriers along 4th Street and Levee Road under the bridge. Continuing now until May 12 from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays, crews will have one-way alternating traffic with flaggers under the bridge, according to a WSDOT report. WSDOT expects no traffic problems for state Route 167 during that time.

Because of load restrictions in place since January of 2011 and the structural deterioration of the nearly 90-year-old bridge, the replacement project was put on the fast track ahead of the Route 167 extension project and fully funded.

“The federal government helps with our bridge preservation projects,” Clarke said.

Clarke said 98 percent of the money for the project comes from the Federal Highway Administration. The remaining 2 percent is made up of state money. Hard costs of construction are $23.3 million. Right-of-way acquisition, preliminary engineering, construction oversight and environmental permitting brings the project total to $30 million, according to Clarke.

Renton-based Atkinson Construction and Bellevue-based Jacobs Engineering make up the design-build team. The team was selected in the fall.

“They have worked together on a number of design builds,” Clarke said. “This is Atkinson’s sixth design-build job for WSDOT.”

Clarke stressed that the work being done on the bridge is a preservation project.

“We’re replacing the existing structurally deficient (northbound) bridge with a new two-lane bridge,” Clarke said. “This project does not have the funds to widen it and provide additional capacity.”

Clarke said the new northbound bridge will be designed to add capacity in the future should funding become available. A wider shoulder, lanes and an 8-foot sidewalk will improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, according to a WSDOT project report.

In addition to the bridge replacement, Clarke said included in the project budget will be the replacement of the asphalt overlay on the southbound bridge.

“Asphalt typically lasts about 15 years and it’s in pretty poor shape,” Clarke added.

Clarke said over the scope of the project, at least 50 jobs will be supported. About 20 subcontractors will work for Atkinson.

“It could peak up to 150 people depending on what is being done,” Clarke explained.

Completion of the northbound bridge is scheduled for fall 2015.

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes Twitter: @herald_andrew

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