Hood Canal bridge "groundbreaking" set for Saturday
Port Angeles, WA - After more than half a dozen years of research and planning, it’s finally time to “turn some dirt” on the Hood Canal Bridge project, with the official kickoff of the $200 million construction work set for this weekend.
Back in 1997, the State Department of Transportation began laying plans for replacing the aging, eastern section of the bridge, the 40 year old stretch that didn’t sink in a catastrophic windstorm in 1979. D.O.T. knew the span was quickly reaching the end of its life, and would have to be replaced if it were going to continue safe passage for hundreds of thousands of vehicles every year.
After a lot of surveying, design and consideration, it was also decided it would be best to also retrofit the western half of the bridge at the same time, making it wider and extending its service life.
With the bridge providing a vital transportation link between Puget Sound communities and the coast, state officials were determined to fund the massive project, even when transportation dollars became scarce.
Saturday, Congressman Norm Dicks will be joined by dignitaries from Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap Counties in marking the official start of construction for the big project. That ceremony will take place at Salisbury Point County Park, which is on the Kitsap side of Hood Canal just north of the bridge.
The ceremony is bound to bring back a sense of déjà vu for Dicks, who was front and center when the ribbon was cut re-opening the western half of the bridge in 1982, after it had been replaced.
State Representative Jim Buck, who has been fighting to insure there’s funding to replace the bridge for the past several years, believes the Hood Canal Bridge project is worthy of worldwide attention.
The bridge is the longest floating span over saltwater on the planet, and represents a major engineering feat. In fact, it’s amazing to consider what was accomplished when the bridge was first built back in 1959.
Buck, himself an engineer by profession, equates the bridge reconstruction with other massive public works undertakings such as the “Big Dig” tunneling project in Boston, and says it should get equal billing in documentaries.
To that end, PNN has already begun documenting many of the important stages in the bridge’s replacement and will be following the project closely over the next couple of years.
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