Blue bridge reopening postponed

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldNovember 5, 2012 

The northbound lanes of the blue bridge won't reopen as planned this morning.

That means drivers trying to get to Pasco from Kennewick will have to spend another day dealing with heavier-than-normal traffic on the cable bridge. Motorists also can use Interstate 182 to get from Richland to Pasco.

Officials now hope to get the northbound lanes of Highway 395 over the blue bridge opened by 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Southbound lanes of the blue bridge haven't been affected by the closure this past weekend.

The northbound lanes of the bridge, which have been closed since 10 p.m. Thursday, were expected to reopen at 5:30 a.m. today, but it's taking longer than planned for the work to be completed.

"Once you open the 28-year-old expansion joints and try to replace them with a new system -- it's just not a perfect fit," said Moe Davari, project engineer for the state Department of Transportation. "They had to do some additional work and just couldn't get it wrapped up or close enough to complete the new expansion joints in time."

The joints are encased in concrete, so once the new ones are put in, new concrete must be poured. Davari said the concrete needs to cure for at least 12 hours to get the strength needed to open the road up for traffic.

After removing the first three expansion joints Friday, officials realized additional work would be necessary to get the new expansion joints installed, forcing the contractor to bring in more workers and equipment from the west side.

Davari had hoped the bridge could reopen as scheduled, but realized Sunday evening they wouldn't meet the deadline.

The joints on the southbound lanes are scheduled to be replaced next weekend.

Single-lane closures of the southbound lanes of the bridge are expected from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. throughout the week, with closure of both southbound lanes planned for 10 p.m. Thursday.

Davari said the contractor now knows what to expect when the expansion joints are replaced on the other side of the bridge and should be able to get the work completed by 5:30 a.m. Nov. 12.

w Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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