Back on Tuesday, we published the Washington State Department of Transportation‘s alert about short closures this week and next for “temporary repairs” on the southbound side of the 1st Avenue South Bridge (which is actually two separate bridges, one in each direction). Tonight we have more information on what’s being fixed, and what “permanent repairs” will entail. WSDOT’s Tom Pearce explains here that “our crews noticed wear on the bearings of two piers during a regular inspection of the bridge. These bearings are critical as they allow the bridge deck to move up and down a little when traffic goes over the pier.”
Right now, for temporary repairs, Pearce writes, “During each closure, crews jack up the deck a little, put in shims – in this case a piece of metal to close the gap – to counter the settlement, then lower the deck onto the shims.” But that’ll only last a few months, so they’ll have to do permanent repairs next year: “In early 2021, we’ll have a contractor crew replace the worn bearings atop the piers. We’re still designing how this work will take place, so we don’t have all the details yet. Right now we’re looking at a project that will require us to close two of the four lanes, 24 hours a day, for about two weeks to replace cement and grout. This will eliminate the settlement on that side of the bridge. When one side is finished, it will take another roughly two weeks to do the same thing on the other side.” Again, this is the southbound side of the 1st Avenue South Bridge, not the northbound side (which is older and went through a recent project to replace some of its deck panels – for more background on both bridges, see our report from the start of that work). WSDOT says the southbound bridge “remains safe for travel.