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State will close Hood Canal span 6-weeks in 2009

Peninsula News Network

Tuesday, August 08

State officials have locked down the dates for closing the Hood Canal Bridge while new pontoons are installed, saying the bridge will be out of service for at least 6-weeks in the summer of 2009.

Department of Transportation leaders had been saying the bridge would probably be closed that summer, but Tuesday’s announcement confirmed those plans for the first time.

Under the DOT’s new schedule, the bridge would be shut down entirely to traffic in May and June of 2009 so that crews can float in, and install the new pontoons for the aging eastern half of the bridge. During that 6-week window, crews with Kiewit-General Construction will be replacing the east and west transition spans, cutting away the old east half floating sections and floating the new pontoons into position.

Work is underway now in Tacoma to build those new pontoon sections, which will be completed and then floated north to Seattle for finishing before being towed to Hood Canal for installation. DOT says without that “off site” construction, the bridge would have had to been closed for three years instead of just a few weeks.

The plan calls for the bridge replacement to be completed in 6-weeks, but says it could take up to 8-weeks if there’s bad weather.

DOT had originally planned to have the 6-week closure this summer, but that date was pushed ahead three years after the discovery of the Klallam village of Tse-whit-zen forced pontoon construction to be moved out of Port Angeles.

As was the case with last summer’s temporary closures while the two transition spans were replaced at the bridge, DOT is pledging to work with Peninsula communities to try and ease the impacts of the bridge closure, where up to 20-thousand cars cross the Canal on the weekend. That includes plans for passenger ferry service across the Canal during the closure, and educational campaigns to help travelers with cars find their way to alternate routes.



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