Those waiting for the re-opening of the Spiketon Creek Bridge can now rejoice.
The span, on state Route 162 just west of the junction with SR 165, has been closed since August 2018. Motorists who have been inconvenienced with detour routes had anticipated shaving minutes off their drive times when the state Department of Transportation had plans to open a temporary bridge by Thanksgiving.
That plan came and went.
The DOT announced the bridge opening late Wednesday, Dec. 11. The final item that was completed was lighting, and that up to Puget Sound Energy.
“Because of the immense size of the new temporary span, it has taken crews longer to assemble than first anticipated,” the DOT noted in a Nov. 22 blog post. Adding to the delay, it was noted, “The contractor needs favorable weather to finish paving the bridge approaches and install striping. Rain, snow and cold temperatures can easily delay this type of work.”
The closure has impacted the 5,000 drivers who crossed the bridge on an average day. Those motorists are typically heading south to Wilkeson and Carbonado, west toward South Prairie, Orting and Bonney Lake, into Buckley or to a trio of nearby schools (White River High, Mountain Meadow Elementary and the school district’s Early Learning Center).
During the bridge closure, motorists skirted the bridge by using Mundy Loss Road, 112th Street East and state Route 410.
The bridge drama began about 16 months ago when DOT began preparing for a deck-repair project. Survey crews discovered piers supporting the bridge deck had settled more than four inches. Citing public safety, Transportation closed the bridge on Aug. 16, 2018, and it has remained off-limits since.
Initial fears were that the detours would last for years. When planning the deck repair, DOT was hoping to keep the bridge – built in 1936 – in operation until 2026 when it was slated for permanent replacement. Concerns were quickly raised and, after working with the community and elected officials, WSDOT decided to have a temporary structure put in place.
The temporary bridge is a steel, modular design that sits just above the existing bridge. It has one lane in each direction with no load restrictions.
According to the DOT, it is one of the largest single-span, multi-lane temporary bridges ever produced, approximately 240 feet long and 32 feet wide.
Adding the temporary bridge carries a price tag of about $3.27 million, according to the DOT website.
As for a permanent replacement, the current DOT schedule calls for bids to be taken in the fall of 2025 and all work to be finished by the winter of 2026.