How do you turn a five-minute drive into a 45-minute delay? You shut down the only bridge between Enumclaw and Buckley.
That will happen next month to keep the bridge from failing.
A truck driver rammed the White River Bridge on Highway 410 sometime last April. It severely damaged several of the support beams.
It was only after a state employee noticed the damage that inspectors went out to take a look.
Kris Olsen with the Washington State Department of Transportation says the bridge has been working with a temporary fix for about a year.
“We need to go in and permanently fix those,” Olsen said. “We’ve had a temporary repair in place last year, but we need to go in and permanently go in and fix those support beams and replace some of them.”
How could someone cause this much damage and simply drive away?
“They may have decided to just keep going,” Olsen said. “They might not have realized it and thought it was just a bump in the road. We may never know because we don’t know how that hit got there and who did it.”
But it certainly did enough damage to the bridge. The truck must have suffered significant damage, too.
The repair work will begin April 15 and last through the following Saturday. It will be closed for the entire week.
“Drivers who are accustomed to running really quick between Buckley to Enumclaw and taking that bridge to where they’re going, they’re going to have a detour route that’s going to take them an extra 45 minutes to an hour to get from one community to another,” Olsen said. “There just aren’t any other good options because the river is right there.”
There are no other bridges. It will turn a 3.5-mile drive into a 35-mile detour.
Olsen says the state met with leaders from both Buckley and Enumclaw and lawmakers about the plan. Engineers wanted to do the work over four weekends, but leaders opted for a full closure.
“They really pushed for this particular week because it was after the ski resort basically expected ski season to be over,” Olsen explained. “It was outside of any really major events and holidays and it did fall during a school break. So this seemed like the best of choices where none of which are ideal.”
Only one of the local school districts is on spring break that week. About 20,000 drivers a day use this bridge.