Hewitt trestle work delayed

By Kate Reardon

Herald Writer

A sigh of relief is in order for those worried that crews moving into another phase of construction on the westbound Hewitt Avenue trestle would create horrible traffic jams for morning commuters.

Tuesday, the day the nightmare was to begin, traffic engineers decided to postpone that phase of work until at least next spring. The work would have reduced the trestle to one westbound lane.

Engineers realized their workload, coupled with sporadic weather this time of year, would have extended the amount of time it would take to finish, said Claudia Cornish, public information officer with the state Department of Transportation.

These factors would have created unacceptably long delays and would have caused severe impacts to motorists, Cornish said. Basically, if crews went forward with work now, it’s possible that the amount of time it would take to do the work might have doubled the original 24-day contract, and the lane closure would have remained in effect even during rainy days.

Engineers decided to wait until weather conditions are more reliable, she added.

In addition, engineers realized the scope of work in the second phase could be more than originally thought because more extensive repairs were required during the first phase of the project, Cornish said.

The lane closure had been expected to continue through the end of October and would have allowed crews to complete work to rehabilitate the westbound bridge deck and repave the westbound lanes across the Hewitt Avenue trestle.

The Transportation Department made the announcement Tuesday afternoon after the public had been warned about the construction.

"We had an extensive outreach campaign," Cornish said.

To prepare motorists for the work, the Transportation Department mailed more than 50,000 letters to residents in Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Monroe, Snohomish and Marysville. The department also placed ads in four Snohomish County newspapers, including The Herald, on Tuesday.

Electronic signs along the roadway Tuesday morning told motorists the second phase of work had been "suspended."

The $3.7 million maintenance and trestle structural repair project by PCT Inc. of Seattle began July 31 and was expected to continue into October.

When work began and one lane on the trestle was closed, the Transportation Department opened a detour route that allowed motorists coming from the Lake Stevens area to drive under the trestle, avoiding construction crews, and hook back onto the trestle before crossing over to Everett. That detour route would have gone away during the second phase of work, reducing traffic to one westbound lane.

Cornish said she’s not sure what happens now to a $35,000 Transportation Department incentive offered to a contractor working on the Lowell-Snohomish River Road. The department had made the offer to encourage the contractor working on that project to finish faster so the river road could be used as a detour when the westbound trestle was reduced to one lane.

For now, motorists should expect single-lane trestle closures between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. weeknights. For more information, call the commuter information line, 800-695-7623.

You can call Herald Writer Kate Reardon at 425-339-3455

or send e-mail to reardon@heraldnet.com.

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