Drivers who have been inconvenienced by the year-plus closure of the Spiketon Creek Bridge will likely be detouring for just two more weeks.
Work on a temporary span being installed over the existing bridge is moving quickly, according to a spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation. Tina Werner, who works in the DOT’s communications office, credits cooperative weather and the fact that crews have been on-site six days a week with the lack of any noteworthy construction delays.
Now, the end is in sight for the 5,600 drivers who typically cross the bridge daily.
“For the most part, things are moving smoothly,” Werner said. “If the weather holds, we are hoping to have the bridge open before the Thanksgiving holiday.”
The Spiketon Creek Bridge isn’t necessarily a huge span, but it serves as a key link to popular travel routes. It sits just west of the junction of highways 165 and 162 and has created detours for drivers 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 have skirted the bridge by using Mundy Loss Road, 112th Street East and state Route 410.
The bridge drama began more than a year 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 will have 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.
Contacted last week, Werner confirmed the temporary bridge deck is in place. Now, crews are working at each end, aligning SR 162 with the new, higher surface. Then there will be some paving, striping and guardrail installation.
Adding the temporary bridge carries a price tag of about $3.27 million, according to the DOT website.
As for a permanent replacement, Werner said DOT’s plans have not changed much. The schedule calls for bids to be taken in the fall of 2025 and all work to be finished by the winter of 2026.
BRIDGES NORTH AND SOUTH
Bridges are integral on the Plateau, where both the White and Green rivers rush away from their glacial origins. Bridges over those two waterways keep traffic moving (or, in the case of the White River Bridge, moving slowly at peak hours).
The Department of Transportation is charged with keeping tabs on all the state’s bridges and maintains a rating system for each structure. Generally, a bridge is highlighted only when it rates a “poor” status; in years past, the term for such bridges was “structurally deficient” but the terminology has changed.
Bridges with a “poor” rating fall into WSDOT’s Bridge Preservation Program and this is where the Spiketon Creek Bridge landed.
That’s not the case for the White River Bridge on state Route 410 between Enumclaw and Buckley; nor does it apply to the SR 169 span over the Green River between Enumclaw and Black Diamond (historically known as the Kummer Bridge). Those two are presently in the “good” or “fair” categories.
Here’s what Werner had to say, in an emailed reply, about the White River span: “Currently, the bridge is not programmed for replacement and is not classified as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.”
The bridge was featured in a 410 Corridor Study completed by WSDOT in 2018. The study addressed traffic issues between Garrett Street in Enumclaw, through Buckley and to the 410/234th intersection and the eastern edge of Bonney Lake.
The study noted the need for additional lanes across the White River and stated a second bridge was a preferred option over expanding the width of the current bridge. The prime takeaway, however, was that bridge relief is likely decades away.