Progress Report: SR 169 bridge

— image credit: CHARLES CORTES/Reporter

What: Green River Bridge (also known as Kummer Bridge) on State Route 169, which has been closed since Nov. 18 for safety reasons. Work to reopen it will cost an estimated $15 million.

The latest: Last Saturday, Tri-State Construction, a company that’s under contract with the state Department of Transportation (DOT), began tearing out an area of road that measures 25 feet deep, 200 feet long and 80 feet wide. About 1,500 truckloads of dirt and rock will be hauled away and replaced with lighter material that is more resistant to sliding, said DOT officials. A hillside to the northeast “is slowly pushing the ground that supports the southern pier” of the bridge, causing the ground beneath the pier “to shift. We need to relieve that pressure to stop the slide,” said Russ East, an assistant regional administrator for DOT.

Timeline: Excavating is expected to take about 30 days, with crews working in 20-hour workdays until Christmas. The full project is scheduled to be done in time for the bridge to reopen to traffic next June.

Other details: The bridge, one of the main links between Black Diamond and Enumclaw, was closed because of potentially dangerous movement in the soil. While the trouble spot has been watched for years and some anti-slide work was done last summer, DOT declared an emergency in early November when heavy rain pummeled the area. Governor Christine Gregoire signed a disaster declaration Nov. 26, allowing the state to receive funding from the Federal Highway Administration for the approximately $15 million project.

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