Deception bridge inspected, blasting begins
March 26, 2009 · Updated 11:42 AM
An explosion of Highway 20 road work and the biennial Deception Pass bridge inspection are expected to make for a rocky commute through May.
The state Department of Transportation closed one lane of Deception Pass bridge Monday. The closures will continue through Friday, March 27, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the inspection. The last review occurred in 2007. (Web editor's note: See more photos on pnwlocalnews.com's Facebook page or on WSDOT's Flickr Photostream.
Hugh Ritter inspects Washington state bridges 10 months out of the year and is part of an eight-member crew inspecting the Deception Pass bridges with the use of an under-bridge inspection truck, also called an ‘ubit.’
Although commonly described as the “Deception Pass bridge,” there are actually two bridges, one over Deception Pass and one over Canoe Pass.
The ubit is similar to the cherry-picker-style trucks used by Puget Sound Electric employees who work on power poles, but instead of an arm that maneuvers up, the ubit’s 60-foot-long steel arm extends over the railing and under the bridge, allowing Ritter and the rest of the crew to closely inspect the underside of the bridge.
“The biggest problem is pack rust,” Ritter said, referring to rust between two pieces of adjacent metal. The crew uses a special tool to remove the rust, add any needed reinforcements and paint over the repair.
According to WSDOT officials, both bridges were last painted in 1998.
For being 74-years-old, the Deception Pass bridges are in pretty good shape, Ritter said, adding that the crew saw no major problems following their first of inspections.
The work caused traffic delays Monday, and will continue to do so through Friday, as flaggers direct cars through the one open lane.
Tonight, WSDOT will closed Highway 20 north of the bridge, south of the intersection of Miller and Gibralter roads, for a test blast that marked the start of a $34.3 million road improvement project.
Crews will use explosives to blast through layers of rock along the highway between the north and south ends of Miller Road, Dave Chesson of WSDOT communications said. The crews will also reduce the hill by 12-feet to improve motorists’ visibility.
A pilot driver will lead traffic through a detour via Miller Road, which will cause delays.
The project is expected to take eight weeks to complete, Chesson said, including one blast each night and the removal of 4,600 dump truck loads of material.
For up-to-date road closures related to the Highway 20 road work, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR20/QuietCove_SR20spur/.