By Don Nelson
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is working on plans for rebuilding the supporting columns on four bridges over the Methow River on Highway 153 this summer.
The “structure rehabilitation project” will affect bridges at mileposts 13.45, 15.51, 16.85 and 18.91. The last two are at the north and south entrances to Gold Creek Loop Road from Highway 153.
According to a memo sent to the Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody by WSDOT, the project will “rehabilitate select columns” on the bridges.
The project is separate from the resurfacing project that WSDOT completed on Highway 153 bridges last summer – and is likely to have more impacts on motorists.
“For traffic control, we will utilize a one-lane flagger control setup or a temporary signal at each bridge location,” WSDOT design team leader Joseph Burnell said in the email to Ing-Moody. “It is unknown at this time if there will be a long-term lane closure at each bridge or if we will be able to open up both lanes each night.”
Burnell said the contractor won’t be allowed to work on more than two of the four bridges at any one time.
“There is a possibility of full closures of the bridges that may last a few hours,” Burnell said. “We are working with our bridge design office to determine how long these full closures may last.”
Burnell said the project is expected to be completed this summer.
At their meeting last the week, Twisp Town Council members stressed the need for up-to-date communication from WSDOT about possible delays that will affect tourism and local traffic alike. They suggested asking WSDOT to install temporary electronic signs in Twisp to alert motorists of delays.
“We need them [WSDOT] to do this,” Ing-Moody said of the bridge repair project, “but the timing does cause challenges.”