An Iconic Tri-City Area Bridge Feeling Its Age
As part of a routine inspection of the bridge in May 2022, bridge crews observed breaks in the protective pipe around the suspension cables near the top towers on the Cable Bridge.
According to Summer Deery, with The Washington State Department of Transportation, although the Cable Bridge is demonstrating a type of movement expected for a cable-stay bridge, the breaks and movement were not observed during the last inspection in 2020. Due to safety limits of inspection equipment, the movement of the cables during a weather event (i.e. wind and/or wind and rain) isn’t typically seen during an inspection.
However, after years of cable movement during weather events, the protective pipe around the cable no longer flexes back and forth, resulting in breaks. Crews are working with the Bridge and Structures Office moving to work with a consultant who specializes in cable bridge analysis, along with aerodynamics experts to determine the scope of the cable movement on the bridge, and to recommend an appropriate repair.
While authorities don’t know the exact extent of repair needed, it is likely the repair will require a large-scale project and may even include replacement of individual cables on the bridge. Projects like these take time to develop, but in the coming months the public will see more activity on the bridge as in-depth inspection work takes place to further define the issue and the impacts to the bridge.
At this time, the bridge remains safe for the traveling public and does not need to be closed. Due to routine inspections of the approximately 7,300 bridges on state, city and county road systems, the Washington State Department of Transportation is able to prioritize maintenance and preservation needs of bridges.
The work they will be doing is a proactive measure to develop a design to prevent future excessive cable movements to maintain this bridge as a reliable, safe structure now and into the future.
Keep in mind, the new protective pipe could end up being a different color than we are used to, making the Cable Bridge a new color.