State announces plan for permanent repairs to White River bridge

Plans for permanent repairs to the heavily-traveled White River Bridge have been announced by the state’s Department of Transportation.

A DOT spokesman noted the agency has been receiving plenty of calls and emails regarding the bridge that links Enumclaw and Buckley as part of state Route 410.

For those using the highway, the important thing is the timing and duration of the repair project. While original plans called for a complete closure of the bridge for a week or two, the DOT has offered a different schedule; instead, there will be several weekend closures in late fall.

Until then, motorists can expect periodic, one-lane closures as inspectors examine the 66-year-old bridge.

The DOT will receive bids in August and anticipates construction will begin in October. Due to high traffic volume during daytime hours, much of the bridge work will take place at night, with flaggers directing traffic through a single lane. Near the completion of the project, however, DOT will close the bridge entirely for several weekends.

The repair project should be complete and open to traffic by November.

The price tag for bridge repair is estimated at $1.55 million, with money coming from federal emergency relief funds and the state.

The steel truss bridge might not be long, but it’s hugely important to those journeying between King and Pierce counties. Approximately 20,000 vehicles pass over the White River daily, creating a trip of just a few minutes between Enumclaw and Buckley. When the bridge is closed, the quick trip balloons to perhaps 45 minutes.

State Route 410 also is important because it provides a gateway, from the south, to Mount Rainier National Park and the Crystal Mountain area.

Damage to the bridge’s overhead support structure was discovered during a routine inspection in April 2015, requiring an emergency seven-day closure for temporary repairs. Engineers believe an over-height load struck the bridge in the westbound lanes.