SKYKOMISH, Wash. – Work crews for the Washington State Department of Transportation are scrambling to install a temporary fix on a bridge along U.S. 2.
Heavy rains washed out the soil underneath the bridge and repairs could cause big-time backups for the holiday drive over Stevens Pass.
The highway is closed at milepost 49, from Skykomish to Stevens Pass. WSDOT’s initial plan was to have this open to a single lane of traffic by Wednesday -- the day before Thanksgiving.
But then tweeted this update late Friday afternoon.
Engineer Robert Grandorff prepared a high-tech monitor to measure slight movements on the bridge.
“We have a data logger here and cellular phone,” he said. “This thing will collect data and we can monitor that data back in Olympia.”
The storm pushed massive amounts of runoff under the bridge and that caused soil under the southeast footing to erode. The resulting damage forced WSDOT to close the bridge as it’s now deemed a serious safety risk to drivers.
“We’re rushing to get this critical lifeline open as soon as possible,” said WSDOT spokesman Travis Phelps.
While work crews begin to repair the bridge, drivers like Nathaniel Helligso are just trying to get home.
“Just trying to get over home to Leavenworth see the family for a couple,” he said.
Until the highway section is reopened, drivers are forced to go around from I-90 to Highway 97 over Blewett Pass.
“Mother Nature throws curveballs in storm events like this,” Phelps said.
Work crews plan to install a temporary support system to make sure it’s safe for drivers to cross.
Repairs could cost as much as $500,000.