Cooling temps helped put an $11 million road project near Burbank back on track for an October finish this week.
The Washington Department of Transportation is revamping a notoriously dangerous stretch of Highway 124 where it crosses the Union Pacific Railroad about five miles east of Burbank. Monument Drive, which intersects with the highway near the railroad, is a high-accident spot.
The project includes an overpass to carry the road over the tracks, and a new intersection for Monument Drive to improve visibility and reduce the number of accidents.
The contractor, Seattle-based Scarsella Brothers, began work on the road to Ice Harbor Dam in March and finished the earth work a few weeks ago.
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Hot weather forced it to stop pouring the new bridge’s concrete deck for about two weeks. Wet cement has to be held to 70 degrees or less, or it won’t cure properly and is at risk for cracking in the future.
Temperatures dropped enough Friday to ensure a proper pour.
By 4 a.m., more than a dozen workers were on site.
Aided by concrete pumpers and an automated roller, the team quickly moved to put wet cement into a mesh of sealed rebar. Workers spread the mixture while the roller swooshed behind them, putting the finishing touches on the surface.
By the time the sun rose a few hours later, the crew was more than halfway through the job. The pour involved 15 loads of concrete, which arrived one truck after another from Richland’s American Rock Products.
The deck will take about 10 days to cure. After that, workers will pour the approaches and pave the new stretch of highway.
Traffic should be diverted to the overpass some time this fall, said Mike Adams, project engineer for the state highway department.
While there have been no reported wrecks involving trains, the Highway 124 intersection at Monument Road is a frequent trouble spot. Tri-City Herald records contain numerous references to injury accidents stemming from low visibility at the crossing.
The railroad line is owned by Union Pacific and used by BNSF to carry freight traffic between Spokane and points west. The new overpass is designed to accommodate a second set of tracks in the future.
Because the project involves constructing an overpass and a parallel stretch of highway, it has not interfered with the highway and there have been no detours.