WSDOT is delaying the completion of the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge project after functional testing of the bridge revealed poor performance of the west-half lift span hydraulic system.
Until the cause of the hydraulic issue is identified, most of the draw span testing - which requires closing the bridge to vehicle traffic - will be suspended.
However, drivers may experience sporadic, daytime diagnostic test openings of up to 10 minutes, and continued weeknight test openings of up to 90 minutes between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Once the hydraulic issue is resolved, WSDOT estimates testing will take about six nights of up to 90-minute closures between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. to complete.
West-half testing is approximately 50 percent finished, and will be followed by about three nights of tests of both the east and west draw spans. When testing and operational retrofitting work is complete, construction work on the bridge will conclude.
In May, crews from WSDOT's Bridge Preservation Office will conduct federally-required annual inspections on the Hood Canal Bridge.
The inspections, which include a total review of all systems, are standard for all moveable bridges in Washington and will require approximately three weeks of short-duration daytime and nighttime openings.
WSDOT will provide at least 24 hours notice prior to nighttime closures. Whenever possible and to reduce the impact on motorists, these openings will be timed to occur during marine vessel openings.
Engineers are trying to determine why the rear hydraulic lifts of all three structures that make up the west-half draw span are operating slower than the front lifts. The systems are producing different pressures, which are causing the lift spans to operate at different speeds. Final testing work by contractor Kiewit-General was scheduled to wrap up by the end of February.
The Hood Canal Bridge's west half was widened in 2006 with retrofit work on the lift systems occurring in 2009. The entire east half was replaced in May-June 2009 and continues to operate and open for marine vessels while the west-half retrofit continues.
"While conducting functional testing of the hydraulic systems we were able to identify this issue before it became an operational problem," said Kevin Dayton, WSDOT region administrator. "Unfortunately, this testing phase has also caused unplanned and unexpected delays for travelers. We appreciate the community's continued patience as we work to solve the draw span problem."
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