By Ann McCreary
Temporary repairs to the Methow River bridge on Highway 153 at Carlton will remain in place throughout the winter, while engineers design a permanent repair that will be completed in the spring.
Cracks were discovered in two of the bridge’s supporting columns during a routine inspection by Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on Oct. 21, and the bridge was immediately closed.
Transportation crews made temporary repairs and the bridge reopened to traffic two days later. Additional work on the bridge is expected to take place next week, which will require closing one lane of traffic, said Tony Gillin, regional bridge maintenance supervisor for WSDOT.
Gillin said crews installed clamps around the two cracked columns to reinforce the structures. “It’s a splint, basically,” Gillin said.
WSDOT also plans to seal an expansion joint on the bridge deck and put epoxy in the cracks to seal them and prevent further damage until a permanent repair is done, Gillin said.
He said that work would likely take place at the beginning of next week, depending on when WSDOT is able to acquire the needed materials for the job.
“While we’re working there will be alternating single-lane closures. There will be some traffic delays of maybe five to 10 minutes,” Gillin said.
The bridge just south of Carlton is inspected by WSDOT every two years. “We’ll be doing maintenance inspections on it once a week until March,” or when the permanent repairs are completed, Gillin said.
The cracked columns are a result of age and fatigue, Gillin said. “The bridge was built in 1935. That’s pretty much the vintage of all of them in the Methow Valley,” with the exception of the two newer bridges on either end of Twisp, he said.
Chloride in liquid de-icer applied to road surfaces in winter can also damage concrete and steel structures on bridges, Gillin said.