Holding true to our word: US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge reopens to traffic one week ahead of schedule

By guest blogger Kelly Stowe

Holiday shopping season. Those three words were the driving force for our crews and contractor, Bergerson Construction, Inc., when we had to shut the US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge down to pedestrian and vehicular traffic for up to four weeks.

More than 13,000 vehicles cross the US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge each day in the Grays Harbor city of Hoquiam – for many local businesses, it serves as a direct route between them and their customers. When cars are bypassed around the route, it is a big impact to local businesses and the already struggling economy.

Bergerson Construction crews preparing to install a fender
pile during the Simpson Ave. Bridge closure on Nov. 8
“We know how much this bridge means to the community and that was on the forefront of everyone’s mind as we set out to make final stabilization repairs on the bridge,” said Scott Ireland, WSDOT Project Engineer.

The final stabilization of the bridge is a continuation of work that started back in August 2010 after our maintenance crews discovered unusual movement of the bridge.  A follow-up inspection revealed there was severe degradation of the most easterly pier and the US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge closed until crews could stabilize it enough to reopen to traffic.

The bridge was stable enough to reopen to traffic in January 2011, but another closure would be necessary to finish all the repairs and give the citizens of Hoquiam a reliable bridge.

In July 2012, crews began preparing the bridge and the community for another closure. On Oct. 22, the bridge was closed to traffic while crews completed work that would install additional pier supports at the northeast and southeast corners of the pier; strengthen walls of the existing pier; transfer the remaining weight of the pier onto two new supports; remove the temporary tie-back anchors and cables; and remove and replace the bridge’s pier fender system.

With dedication and diligence, our crews and contractor worked with the common goal of reopening the bridge to traffic before the busy holiday shopping season.

Great weather and hard work paid off. During the early-morning hours of Sunday, November 11, the bridge reopened to traffic—an entire week ahead of the original four-week schedule.

Crews still have work to do under the bridge, but nothing that will require closing the bridge to pedestrians and motor vehicles.

“It was a great feeling to know that the community would be getting their bridge back sooner than expected,” explained Ireland. “And just in time for the busy holiday shopping season.”