By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
MONROE — The plan is to make Highway 522 wider and safer.
To do that, the state Department of Transportation is building four new bridges for westbound traffic along the highway. The current road will carry eastbound traffic when the work is done. The bridges will span the Snohomish River and cross over three roadways — 164th Street SE, Elliott Road and 179th Street SE.
Three of them are already under construction. The Snohomish River bridge is the biggest one and most challenging.
Crews have finished six of the nine pillars needed to support the steel 1,700-feet-long bridge.
Crews are also running against the clock to finish one pillar that is located in the river. That’s because the crews have until Oct. 15 to finish it to avoid disrupting salmon migration, spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.
Crews can work above and around the river after that, she said.
Work is on schedule. Crews are currently working on building a temporary trestle on the river to build the pillar, chief inspector Dave Schrader said.
“Getting access to the area is more of a challenge,” Schrader said.
Crews are drilling 100 feet below the river with special equipment that prevents debris and soil from getting into river, he said.
The four bridges are part of a $128.8 million project to widen Highway 522 to four lanes over a four-mile stretch from 179th Avenue SE to the Snohomish River. A concrete median will be installed to prevent head-on collisions.
The planned rock blasting will not affect the construction of the bridges, Pembroke said. The rock blasting is scheduled to start mid-August.
The Snohomish River bridge is expected to be finished by next summer. The 164th Street bridge is having its girders finished and it could be done by February. The Elliott Road bridge has one of its two pillars completed, and it is scheduled to be completed in three months. Work has not started on the 179th Street bridge.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@ heraldnet.com.