Bridge safety work ends

Deception Pass Bridge work is winding up for now after nearly a week’s worth of rust and paint removal. One lane of the bridge was closed and flaggers moderated the flow of traffic this past week.

Delays were slight, however, and traffic continued to move smoothly on Highway 20 in both directions across the bridge.

The project is designed to extend the life of the bridge ensuring its safety.

Rust removal was accomplished using a special crane called a UBIT, for Under Bridge Inspection Truck, to hoist workers over and then underneath a section of the bridge. The state Department of Transportation has five UBITs in their fleet which dates back to the first one in 1988.

According to Dave Chesson, of WSDOT communications, workers have said that the process is labor intensive and very challenging.

“Partly, this is due to the workers using a pressurized water blaster to remove the rust instead of a sandblaster,” said Chesson. “It’s better for the environment, though.” Chesson said that water blasting will not create as much dust and is easier to contain. The lead content of the paint could be hazardous to the environment if it fell into the water or was ingested by animals.

Work for this section was completed on schedule Thursday afternoon at a cost of $11,000. The overall project is slated to last from three to five years.

Work started with the worst section of the bridge and further work will prioritize remaining sections that are in bad shape. Chesson anticipates that work will start around the same time period next year.

“We try to get it done before the busy season,” he said, “and we need the good weather to do it in.”

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