Deception Pass bridge to undergo repairs

Fixtures holding a 10-inch water line onto the bridge will be replaced this fall.  - Dan Richman/Whidbey News-Times
Fixtures holding a 10-inch water line onto the bridge will be replaced this fall.
— image credit: Dan Richman/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor plans to partially close Deception Pass bridge this fall, possibly for several weeks, in order to replace the fixtures holding a 10-inch water line onto the bridge, according to Joe Stowell, a project engineer for the city.

Several recent biennial bridge inspections by the state Department of Transportation revealed rust on some of the hangars suspending the pipe from the bridge’s west side, Stowell said.

The repairs, scheduled to take place just after the Labor Day tourist rush, will cost an estimated $750,000 to $1 million, he said.

The specter of rusty attachments breaking during an earthquake, causing the pipe to fall and a consequent water shortage in Oak Harbor, is of great concern to Oak Harbor resident Rob Sweeton.

Sweeton pushed the city hard to fix the hangars that it made that project a priority over other, more urgent matters, Stowell said.

The 10-inch pipe is “largely redundant,” Stowell said, because a pipe ranging between 16 and 24 inches in diameter is also in use, bringing water down from near Mount Vernon to Oak Harbor and intermediate points.

“I live and breathe this issue,” Sweeton acknowledged. “I’ve become a pest.”

Sweeton said he is greatly concerned with potable water availability in the event of an earthquake.

A former FDA official, Sweeton said he worries that private and municipal wells without generators might lose power and become nonfunctional; ground movement could make well water turbid; and the mass-quantity reverse-osmosis devices used by the military are not currently positioned on Whidbey Island.

“I’m happy to hear” the city will replace the hangars, he said.

“There are other things that need to be looked into regionally, but that has been a primary concern.”


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