WSDOT: Cleaning of three southwest Washington bridges could affect traffic

It’s not quite spring, but starting Monday, Feb. 3, Washington State Department of Transportation crews will be doing some heavy cleaning on three steel bridges in Cowlitz and Lewis counties.

The State Route 4 Peter Crawford, State Route 433 Lewis and Clark, and the northbound Interstate 5 Cowlitz River bridges will all get a scrubbing over the next two months.

Over time, bridges accumulate various substances that can damage the structure, including dirt, mildew, road spray, chemicals, and bird and animal feces. A regular washing cycle can reduce damage and help improve the efficiency of WSDOT’s rigorous bridge inspection program.

“Cleaning off the grime means we get less rust, paint lasts longer and the bridge stays in better shape overall,” said WSDOT Bridge Supervisor Mike London. “Clean bridges are also easier to inspect, which helps us keep them in good repair and safe for drivers.”

Bridge washing timelines and traffic impacts

SR 4 Peter Crawford Bridge
   • Mondays-Thursdays, Feb. 3-20
• Single-lane closures from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SR 433 Lewis and Clark Bridge
   • Mondays-Fridays, Feb. 10-March 20
• Narrow lanes, no over-width loads from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Delays of up to 30 minutes

Northbound I-5 Cowlitz River Bridge
   • Saturdays and Sundays, March 1-16
• Single-lane closures from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 63-year-old Peter Crawford Bridge carries SR 4 over the Cowlitz River in Kelso. Crews will clean debris from the structure by hand and then use a low pressure, high volume water hose to wash the bridge from top to bottom.

The 84-year-old SR 433 Lewis and Clark Bridge between Longview and Rainier, Ore. was recently painted and does not need to be hand-cleaned. WSDOT crews will wash all of the steel elements in and below the bridge deck. The superstructure – the latticed steel above the roadway – will not be washed this year.

Two side-by-side structures carry I-5 over the Cowlitz River in southern Lewis County. This year, crews will wash only the northbound bridge. Like the Peter Crawford Bridge, the 61-year-old northbound I-5 Cowlitz River Bridge must be hand-cleaned before it can be washed.

Through its comprehensive bridge program, WSDOT cares for nearly 3,500 bridges and structures statewide. Crews regularly inspect and perform spot cleaning and repairs, and regular overall cleanings help further protect taxpayers’ investments in our state transportation system.

Developer Pleads Guilty to Illegally Filling Wetlands in Southwest Washington

            “Mr. Smith deliberately chose to ignore environmental laws that other developers and contractors in the state abide by,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant.  “Today’s plea agreement is a consequence of his decision to bulldoze dozens of acres of wetlands and a creek.”


            SMITH admits in his plea agreement to knowingly engaging in land clearing activities that included excavating wetlands and stream channels and redepositing or discharging the excavated materials into waters of the United States.  The activities occurred on property he owned near Winlock, Washington.  SMITH’s land clearing operations spanned a period of over two years, beginning in August 2005 and concluding in October 2007 when inspectors discovered the illegal activity.  In early 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an order to SMITH requiring him to restore the wetlands.  He did not comply with the order and a separate civil case was filed requiring restoration of the damaged wetlands.  The civil case is being handled separately from the criminal case.



            According to records in the case, 65 percent of the 190 acres SMITH owned near Winlock were covered in wetlands and small streams that drain into Lacamas Creek.  The creek flows into the Cowlitz River and ultimately empties into the Columbia River.  The wetlands at issue cannot be filled without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Neither SMITH nor anyone associated with the property ever applied for the required permit.  In all, 98 acres of wetlands were cleared and disturbed between 2005 and 2007.  While SMITH had a permit to log part of the property, he had no state or federal permits to disturb the wetlands.


            In 2007, SMITH had sought to strike a deal with the Southwest Washington Regional Equestrian Center to build a $70 million facility on the site.  After being fined by the Washington State Department of Ecology for filling the wetlands, the deal fell through.   


            The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Washington State Department of Ecology.


            The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jim Oesterle who heads the U.S. Attorney’s Office working group on environmental crimes.


            For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

September Is Weather Radio Awareness Month in Washington

 Awareness Month Activities include: 
  • Governor Gregoires Proclamation of Weather Radio Awareness Month.
  • Web Site information with consumer incentives on weather radios –
  • Consumer incentives on weather radios from manufacturers and vendors.
  • Heightened awareness for schools and the emergency preparedness community.
  • Coastal Tsunami Warning Communications Test and Statewide Earthquake Drill on Sept 24 at about 1015 AM using EAS via Weather Radio.
  • Dedication of new Upper Cowlitz River Basin Weather Radio station on Sept 24.
  • Booths at the Puyallup Fair, Spokane Co Interstate Fair, Columbia River Watershed Festival, Thurston Co Disaster Fair, Renton Disaster Fair and many other outreach events.
  • Local retailers with weather radios – Fred Meyer, Radio Shack, Joes, REI, Walgreens, Cabela’s

Contribute to wild-salmon recovery by taking home six hatchery coho

The increased daily limit was prompted largely by a projected return of 700,000 coho salmon to the Columbia River Basin this year, said Pat Frazier, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The impending run of coho, the majority of which were reared in hatcheries, promises to be the largest since 2001.

"The main reason for producing salmon in hatcheries is to give people a chance to catch them," Frazier said.  "Beyond that, we want anglers to help remove those hatchery fish to prevent them from interfering with wild salmon on the spawning grounds."

The six-fish limit will be in effect on the Cowlitz, Elochoman, Grays (including the West Fork), Kalama, Lewis (including the North Fork), Toutle (including the Green and North Fork) and Washougal rivers, plus the Klickitat River which spills into the Columbia above Bonneville Dam. Last year, only the Cowlitz River had a six-salmon daily limit. 

The daily limit on the mainstem Columbia River, which opens for salmon fishing Aug. 1 upstream to Pasco, remains the same – two adult salmon (but only one chinook), or two steelhead, or one of each – to conserve fish listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

As in past years, anglers must release any wild coho they intercept in all waters up to the Hood River Bridge. Hatchery fish can be identified by a clipped adipose or ventral fin and a healed scar.

Similar rules will require the release of wild chinook salmon returning to a number of Columbia River tributaries, where WDFW is engaged in a multi-year effort to mass-mark all hatchery fish.

For example, anglers fishing the Elochoman and Kalama rivers will be required for the first time to release any wild chinook – adults or jacks – they intercept. In addition, unmarked jack salmon must be released on the Cowlitz, Toutle (including the North Fork and Green River), Washougal, Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake.

The retention rules adopted for those rivers reflect staggered implementation of mass-marking hatchery chinook salmon in the lower Columbia River Basin, said Heather Bartlett, WDFW salmon and steelhead division manager. All hatchery salmon reared in state-operated facilities in the region were marked this year, she said.

"Our objective for these fisheries is to provide protection for wild salmon, while maximizing fishing opportunities for hatchery fish wherever possible," Bartlett said.  "The new rules in effect for Columbia River tributaries this year are a clear example of our efforts to achieve our conservation goals while still providing great fishing opportunities."

Earlier this year, WDFW also took action to realign hatchery production on the lower Columbia River to reduce risks posed by hatchery fish to the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead populations. Those actions, which included closing the Elochoman Hatchery, were designed to meet recovery goals established by Lower Columbia Basin Salmon Recovery Plan and standards set by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group. 

But maintaining viable fisheries in the region was also a major consideration in that initiative, Bartlett said. Under the department's Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries Plan, 95 percent of fall chinook production, 91 percent of early-returning coho production and 94 percent of late-returning coho production will be maintained.

"Of course, it will take a few years before we see the effect of the changes in production, and returns will always be affected by ocean and fresh-water conditions," Bartlett said. "For now, anglers can help us meet recovery goals for wild salmon by taking home a bunch of hatchery coho and releasing all wild coho."

This year's fishing rules for the Columbia River, its tributaries and other waters in Washington state are described in WDFW's Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet ( ).