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The 72-year-old pavement on the Columbia River bridge near Kettle Falls is getting a long-overdue face lift, but it won't be entirely painless for drivers. A temporary signal will direct traffic 24 hours per day on the US 395/State Route 20 bridge when work begins Monday, July 23.
The pavement, also known as the bridge deck, has been in service since the structure was built in 1940. Dozens of patches and repairs made during the past seven decades are a testament to the age of the pavement - and the increased number of vehicles that drive on it daily. Transportation officials say that recent emergency bridge closures and temporary repairs underscored the need to permanently repair this critical transportation link.
Drivers can expect up to 20 full overnight closures of the bridge, from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., as crews pour the new concrete deck. During the full closures, drivers will be directed to a 68-mile detour via State Route 25 to Northport, then back to US 395 via the Northport/Flat Creek Road. Drivers are strongly encouraged to cross the bridge outside of these hours to avoid the long detour.
Keith Metcalf, regional administrator for the WSDOT said, "We understand how important this bridge is, not just to regular drivers but to emergency responders, too." He said, "Fully closing the bridge overnight allows us to get a lot of work done in a short space of time, but we have a plan to get emergency crews across if necessary. The contractor will stop work, move construction equipment, and make just enough room for emergency vehicles on a code call to squeeze through."
In order to keep traffic flowing during the four-month construction window, WSDOT and the contractor will install a temporary signal to direct traffic 24 hours per day. The signal allows vehicles to cross one direction at a time, and drivers can expect up to 10-minute delays. Due to narrowed lanes, oversize loads wider than 8.5 feet will not be allowed to cross the bridge for the duration of the project.
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