Work on the White River Bridge began Monday, June 2, affecting night commutes. Photo by Kevin Hanson

Work on the White River Bridge began Monday, June 2, affecting night commutes. Photo by Kevin Hanson

White River bridge painting begins

The $2.8 million project will affect night commutes, though only some of the time during the 140-day project.

Are you ready for “Extreme Makeover: White River Bridge Edition”?

No, Ty Pennington isn’t coming to town, but the bridge connecting Enumclaw and Buckley is getting a 640-gallon paint job over the next six months.

Work started Monday, July 2, with workers from Indiana-based Panther Industrial Painting removing old paint, rust and corrosion from the bridge before priming and painting begins on the 36,000 square-foot bridge.

All work will be done at night between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 8 p.m. Saturdays to 8 a.m. Sundays.

“The bridge will never fully close,” said WSDOT spokeswoman Lisa Van Cise. “Traffic could be alternating, but it won’t be alternating every night. It will be alternating for some portions of the project, mainly when the contractor needs to install their containment system for the painting.”

Van Cise added that night commuters should expect around 50 of the planned 140 non-consecutive work days to involve alternating traffic.

“It’s looking like delays will be about 30 minutes or less, less time than it takes to drive that detour,” Van Cise said, referring to the route many drivers had to take through Auburn when the bridge was closed for an emergency repairs April 2016.

Van Cise said WSDOT started planning this project about a year ago, and brought stakeholders like the cities of Enumclaw and Buckley, the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce, the Muckleshoot Tribe and others into the loop before the contract with Panther Industrial Painting was signed in order to figure out the best work schedule for the bridge and how to mitigate impact on the surrounding communities.

The project is expected to cost around $2.8 million.

According to bridge engineers, the painting will help the bridge remain in service for another 20-plus years, Van Cise said.

PAINTING BY THE NUMBERS

While altogether necessary to lengthen the lifespan of the White River bridge, the painting itself isn’t very exciting.

However, there is a unique organizational aspect to how the U.S. government uses colors.

Until recently, the federal government relied on Federal Standard 595, or FED-STD-595, a collection of colors that helped government agencies be uniform in their color schemes.

The standard supposedly came out of World War II, when the U.S. had major issues providing exact color specifications to different military equipment subcontractors in various corners of the world.

Each color in the standard has a unique code assigned to it; the White River bridge, for example, will be painted Federal Standard 24907 (which most people know as a brownish forest green).

Each number in a color’s 5-digit code has a meaning beyond identifying a color.

The first digit describes the finish and sheen of the paint. A color code starting with 1 has a gloss finish and a gloss level of 80 or higher (on a 0-100 scale); a code starting with 2 has a semi-gloss with levels between 30 and 45; and a code starting with 3 has practically no gloss to it.

The second digit refers to a color classification system. If the second digit if 0, this means the predominate color group is brown. Numbers 1 through 5 refer to red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, in that order; 6 refers to grey; 7 covers the whites and blacks; and 8 are fluorescent colors.

The last three digits of the code refer to the color’s reflectance, or the percent of light reflected from the painted area. A color code ending in 000 is black, and ending with 100 is white.

In 2017, the government switched from using FED-STD-595 colors to SAE International’s AMS-STD-595 colors, which still uses the five-digit codes.

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