Six more weeks for bridge project

Interstate 5: Additional safety measure will extend work into July, DOT announces

May 19, 2011 

OLYMPIA — The completion date has been delayed six weeks on a project to install a nearly 9-foot-high fence along the Capitol Boulevard bridge over Interstate 5.

Crews had to install additional netting under the bridge to prevent concrete that is being broken up on the bridge deck from falling to the freeway below, said Lisa Copeland, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. The extent of the work was unexpected, she said.

Now it appears likely the project will stretch into July, she said.

“We stopped working for six weeks in order to get some netting in place,” she said.

The $518,000 project is intended to keep debris from falling off the side of the bridge onto the interstate. Though the state is not publicizing it as a reason for the construction, at least five people have jumped to their deaths from the bridge in the last five years, most recently in March. Former State Rep. Brendan Williams had lobbied to get the fence built to prevent suicides there.

The fence will have a fine mesh screen across the railing and is of a height that is not easily scaled. Cascade Bridge LLC of Vancouver, Wash., is constructing the fence. It is part of a statewide initiative to retrofit bridges.

The construction has closed one outside lane while crews install the railing and rebuild part of the sidewalk so the deck can support the new fencing. When that lane reopens, the other outside lane will be closed.

Copeland cautioned drivers to be careful while workers are on the bridge. “Slow down,” she said. “Pay attention to the workers.”

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com

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