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Snohomish County has its share of well-worn bridges

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By Diana Hefley and Bill Sheets
Herald Writers
EVERETT -- Snohomish County is home to hundreds of bridges, big and small.
Just this month, the county's public works department submitted its annual bridge report, grading 200 bridges in unincorporated Snohomish County.
According to the report, there are 14 bridges in the county that are classified as structurally deficient under National Bridge Inspection Standards. Seven of those are scheduled to be replaced or rehabilitated within the next six years. Those include bridges over the Pilchuck and Sauk Rivers and bridges over various smaller waterways, including Swamp, Howard, Jim and Woods creeks.
Some of the problems include rotted pilings, deteriorated concrete and cracked timber girders.
As of December the county had 102 bridges in various conditions that would make them eligible for federal replacement funding, according to the county report. Of the 16 bridges with the lowest ratings, seven have been funded for replacement.
Meanwhile major work is on the horizon for bridges on Highway 529.
Repair work is planned for this summer to replace moving parts on the highway's drawspan over the Snohomish River between Everett and Marysville.
The main Snohomish River crossing on Highway 529 consists of two spans -- one for northbound and the other for southbound traffic. The northbound bridge was built in 1927 and the southbound bridge was built in 1954, according to the state Department of Transportation. It is a vertical lift bridge, which is a type of moveable bridge where the middle span rises vertically while remaining parallel with the deck.
During annual inspections, structural engineers found small fatigue cracks in the machinery designed to lift the southbound bridge. The cracks were hidden in the machinery itself, which makes repairing them a challenge for crews, according to the transportation department.
Because it is such a critical part of the transportation system in Snohomish County, even minor damage on the bridge can be a big headache. In December, for example, Everett streets became parking lots after a drunken driver clipped support beams.
Everett officials in 2008 were forced to ban parking along the Broadway Bridge and place load restrictions on trucks. The 100-year-old bridge spans the railroad tracks that bisect downtown Everett. Replacement costs are estimated at $9 million.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;
Story tags » Accidents (general)

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