While the State Route 109 bridge project to stabilize that structure was recently completed, and traffic has returned to normal, many other bridges locally are in poor condition and will need repair.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is responsible for inspecting the approximately 7,300 bridges within the road systems, with most being looked at every two years.
Their Bridge Preservation Programs work to ensure that bridges are strengthened to better withstand earthquakes, that scour is removed from foundations, and they are safe for travel.
They rank the bridges and categorize them based on their condition as good, fair, or poor.
- Good: A range from no problems to some minor deterioration of structural elements.
- Fair: All primary structural elements are sound but may have deficiencies such as minor section loss, deterioration, cracking, spalling or scour.
- Poor: Advanced deficiencies such as section loss, deterioration, cracking, spalling, scour, or seriously affected primary structural components. Bridges rated in poor condition may be posted with truck weight restrictions. Poor is the Federal Highway Administration’s new rating term for bridges previously described as “structurally deficient.”
According to recently released data from WSDOT, Grays Harbor has 31 bridges listed as being in Poor condition.
That includes such major bridges as Simpson Avenue Bridge in Hoquiam and the Chehalis River Bridge in Aberdeen. In addition, the Heron Street Bridge in Aberdeen that has been on a list for replacement or repair for a number of years and the Wishkah River Bridge adjacent are both in Poor condition.
All four of those bridges are at least 65 years old, with the youngest being the Chehalis River Bridge. The Simpson Avenue Bridge is celebrating 95 years this year, although it was rebuilt in 1948. The Wishkah River Bridge predates that, with a build date in 1925 and a rebuild date in 2003.
In total, 9.7% of the Grays Harbor bridges are in need of repair. The majority of them are under County ownership.
Pacific County has less bridges overall, but also shows less being in the Poor condition.
7 out of the 129 bridges within Pacific County are listed as being Poor. That accounts for 5.4% of the total inventory.
This includes two bridges on Highway 101 across the Chinook River and Greenhead Slough, and a bridge over State Route 6 around 2 miles east of Raymond.
4 of the Poor rated bridges are under Washington State ownership, with 3 others as County owned.
The oldest bridge on the list in Poor condition is the Chinook River Bridge over 101, built in 1927.
Statewide, over 530 bridges are officially listed as being in Poor condition.
While these bridges may be listed as “Poor”, officials state that does not mean the bridge is unsafe for travelers or in danger of collapse.
Bridges, such as the recent case for the SR 109 bridge between Hoquiam and Ocean Shores, will be closed for repairs if they are deemed unsafe.