The Federal Highway Administration is requiring local governments to evaluate their bridges for new load ratings by Dec. 2017, to ensure that the structures can handle modern vehicles that are designed to haul heavier loads.
Thurston County Public Works is about a third of the way through checking those weight limits on the 119 roadway bridges in its inventory, according to civil engineer Matt Unzelman.
However, the county is going to hire an outside firm to do some of the inspections.
The Board of County Commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to hire Exeltech Consulting Inc. of Lacey to conduct that work on 10 structures, ranging from the Old Highway 101 Bridge to the Mud Bay Bridge. The amount of the contract is $87,000.
“Some of our more structurally complex bridges are included with these 10 bridges,” Unzelman told The Olympian. “We just need a different level of expertise.”
The ratings will determine if the county needs to add a weight limits to some of its structures, he said.
County manager Cliff Moore described the work as routine, but said it’s an important long-term process for the county.
“Like most jurisdictions in the nation, we are trying to keep on this issue,” he said.
The money will come from the county’s road fund, and will include the following structures. (Size and inspection information was listed in the county’s 2014 Bridge Index.)