The state Department of Transportation has closed its search for a climber to repair a flagpole atop the blue bridge and plans to decide on a contractor within a couple days.
“We’re at the point in the process where we’ve selected a couple and we’re narrowing it down,” spokeswoman Summer Derrey said.
The announcement comes after an overwhelming response from people who saw a Tuesday Herald story about the agency’s search for someone to fix the flagpole, which has not had the American flag fly from it since workers discovered a severed cable on it in August. Further inspection found that all working parts needed to be replaced.
The paper received more than a dozen calls and emails.
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Callers offered services, saying they had experience working on wind turbines, cell phone towers and for a tree service. Another said he would be a good candidate because: “I like being up in heights.”
One caller suggested WSDOT replace the pole with a telescopic flagpole, which can be lowered to its base 100 feet above the bridge deck.“Nobody climbs the pole, nobody gets hurt,” he said.
WSDOT plans to pay between $7,500 and $10,000 to repair the flagpole. The American flag first flew above the Highway 395 bridge across the Columbia River between Kennewick and Pasco in 1986. The flagpole was paid for by the Columbia Basin Shrine Club. Flags are maintained by WSDOT and the American Legion.
WSDOT plans to close the 60-year-old bridge for about three hours when it does repair the 50-foot-high flagpole. The bridge is traveled by around 59,000 vehicles per day.
WSDOT hopes to replace the flagpole this fall.