Bickford Avenue work hits milestone

SNOHOMISH – The reconstruction of the Bickford Avenue interchange on U.S. 2 is expected to hit a major milestone this week.

Beginning Monday, crews plan to lift eight massive concrete girders into place for a new overpass. The highway will be entirely closed in both directions between Highway 9 and 20th Street SE Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Westbound U.S. 2 is scheduled to close at 8 p.m. each night and eastbound at 10 p.m. Crews plan to reopen the highway at 5 a.m. each following day.

Several ramps will also be closed. A detour will be provided via 20th Avenue SE and Highway 9, the same detour used in previous closures. The detour is expected to add 10-15 minutes to drivers’ trips.

The $22.4 million project will allow drivers to take the new overpass from westbound Bickford Avenue to westbound U.S. 2. Currently, they must dart across the eastbound lanes of U.S. 2 to reach the other side of the highway.

The project also will include a new off-ramp to Bickford for eastbound highway drivers, and a new eastbound on-ramp from Bickford. The work is expected to take until the fall of 2013.

“Once the girders are in place, drivers will really be able to visualize what the new overpass will look like,” project engineer Mark Sawyer said. “They’ve waited a long time for improvements to this intersection and this is a big step toward making that happen.”

Each girder weighs 142,000 pounds, or 71 tons. That’s almost as much as 12 large male orcas. The eight, 142-foot-long girders placed end to end would be 44 feet longer than the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz based at Naval Station Everett, according to the transportation department.

More details about the closures and the project may be found on the U.S. 2 Bickford Avenue project website.

Ernalee Munday of Marysville writes: I had an occasion to be heading north on Broadway toward Highway 529 around noon on Dec. 1. Much to my surprise with no warning signs, I had to go right to follow detour signs because Highway 529 northbound was closed.

Why were there no signs somewhere on north Broadway saying Highway 529 was closed? At 16th and Broadway I would have been able to take a different route to get over to the freeway. As it was, there was a line of slow moving traffic and total confusion by some drivers, myself included. I ended up on the trestle and went to Marysville, via Highway 9, etc.

I think it was very poor judgment on the part of the state not to put out some indication that Highway 529 was closed to all northbound traffic. Why could that not have been done?

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: Northbound Highway 529 closed unexpectedly on Dec. 1 after a driver crashed into the support beams of the bridge over the Snohomish River. Our crews immediately closed the bridge for safety reasons.

We put up detour signs near the bridge, and posted messages on electronic signs on I-5 to warn drivers. We also posted information on the state Department of Transportation website – on the travel alerts page, the Seattle-area traffic page, the WSDOT twitter accounts and even the 5-1-1 phone line.

We do our best to get road closure information out to drivers as soon as we can, but there’s no good way to reach every driver on the road – especially when an emergency like this closes a road without warning. Our first priority was to repair the bridge and get it open for drivers.

Our crews worked around the clock starting Dec. 1 to make repairs and get the highway open to traffic. Crews had to design, fabricate and install new parts for the 85-year-old bridge – and they were able to get the road back open in 81 hours. You can read more, and see photos, http://tinyurl.com/b92evec. on our blog.

E-mail us at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.

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