HOQUIAM, Wash. - Plans to reopen the Simpson Avenue Bridge in September changed this week following further testing of soils that house the piers. WSDOT announced Monday that plans to temporarily fix the pier and open the bridge to traffic have changed because of the agency's concern for the structure's stability. WSDOT is moving forward with a cabling project to stabilize the bridge but will not have a permanent repair done that enables vehicular traffic until November.
What happened this week?
WSDOT mobilized barges, cranes and divers to seal up the affected pier so that contaminated sediment can be removed. Sediment removal from within the pier began today. Crews also installed two 80-foot shafts on the east bank of the river near 20th Avenue that will anchor steel cables to the structure.
Current bridge status
Currently the US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge is closed to vehicular traffic, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The Riverside Bridge has been reconfigured to accommodate a single lane of traffic in each direction.
Bridge engineers are allowing one marine opening per day at high-slack tide. Openings are being carefully monitored and executed using only the west bascule. A calendar (updated through October) of the scheduled openings is available on the website at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/US10 ... MarineVesselOpenings.htm.
Oversize and overweight vehicles are only permitted to cross the Riverside Bridge between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Information is available on the WSDOT's motor carrier website at www.wsdot.wa.gov/CommercialVehicle/default.htm.
Looking ahead to next week
Over the weekend and into next week crews will continue removing contaminated sediment from the pier and attach anchor plates to the new shafts and pier in preparation for cable tensioning. Cable tensioning is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 30.
What about businesses?
WSDOT staff and city officials met Thursday this week to check in and make revisions to the traffic control. Since the meeting, 'local traffic only' signs have been removed and more signs directing drivers to the downtown business area have been ordered – a number of other adjustments are in the works.
Local companies remain open throughout the closure. WSDOT is committed to helping the community retain business through outreach that announces the "best times to travel" instead of telling motorists to "avoid the area" and providing additional signing to alert drivers of the downtown Hoquiam area.
Know before you go
Traffic increases noticeably between May and October as tourists visit nearby ocean beaches via US 101. Drivers can get ahead of congestion by calling 511 for real time traffic. WSDOT also installed temporary traffic cameras on US 101 to help travelers plan ahead when traveling to the coast. North and southbound views are available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/US10 ... dgePierRepair/Camera.htm.