Putting it back together again

When a vital roadway gets knocked out of service, it's our job to get it back open as quickly as possible for drivers, and emergency responders. Fixing something like a bridge fixed is by no means, a small feat. An average of 15,000 vehicles each day use the northbound lanes of the SR 529 Snohomish River bridge from Everett to Marysville. This hard-working blue-collar bridge has been around for 85 years and took quite a beating this weekend when a driver smacked an SUV into a couple of support beams.

For safety, our inspectors closed the northbound bridge until the damaged support beams could be fixed. These are critical pieces that support the bridge deck. Replacement parts can't be ordered out of a catalogue, we had to custom make them from raw steel.

A team of about 30 worked in shifts around the clock to design, fabricate and install a new diagonal and vertical support beam.

We didn't want to risk further stress on the bridge deck, so we needed to park heavy equipment on the ground and use boom lifts to access the damaged support beams. Replacement parts were up to 30 feet long and weighed as much as 1000 pounds. It's really tough to safely get those pieces in place in the driving rain with high winds.

After about 500 combined hours of work, the northbound SR 529 Snohomish River bridge reopened to traffic at about 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4. We don't roll the dice on safety. It's pretty amazing how quickly it all came together. In 81 hours, the bridge went from damaged to repaired. We closed it, stabilized it, designed replacement parts, fabricating and installed them - and only disrupting one event commute for drivers.