A nearly $2 million bridge and road project should end the hourlong detours that have become an annual inconvenience for some south Thurston County residents.
The project involves replacing the 20-foot timber bridge on Independence Road near the Lewis-Thurston County line with a longer concrete span and elevating sections of roadway by as much as 8 feet, as well as other improvements.
The bridge spans an unnamed tributary of Independence Creek that often floods and closes the road. Residents are forced to take a detour through Lewis County that takes 45 minutes to an hour. The creek floods before the nearby Chehalis River.
The project should make those long drives a rarity when it’s completed.
“It may still flood there in large events, but right now it floods in very minor events,” said Diane Sheesley, a county civil engineer.
County commissioners awarded the project to Quiggs Bros. Inc. of Aberdeen on Tuesday. It will be paid for with a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and county road funds.
Carie Lawrence, who has lived in the area for 15 years, said the road closes once a year, on average. She was stuck on her property for five days during the major flooding in January, she said. She calculated that the detour was 22 miles on other occasions when the road closed.
“When you live out here so long, you get used to it,” she said. “You relax and enjoy the seclusion.”
She was happy to hear the project soon will be under way.
Chief Robert Scott of the Grand Mound-Rochester Fire Department said his agency has an agreement for the Riverside Fire Authority in Lewis County to respond to calls for service when the road is closed.
Work is scheduled to start in June and should conclude by the end of the year, Sheesley said. A temporary bridge will be in place. The project also will stabilize the riverbank.
Christian Hill is a reporter for The Olympian and can be reached at 360-754-5427 or firstname.lastname@example.org.