New Sauk River Bridge honored

DARRINGTON — Snohomish County’s new Sauk River Bridge recently was named one of the American Public Works Association’s public works projects of the year.

The association, an international, nonprofit organization of public works professionals, plans to honor the county’s project managers, the engineering consultant and the contractor at an awards ceremony Aug. 15 in Boston.

The 479-foot-long Sauk River Bridge, which connects the Sauk Prairie neighborhood with the town of Darrington, is one of 18 projects to be honored, said the association’s spokeswoman, Laura Bynum.

The old bridge on Sauk Prairie Road was barely more than one lane, just wide enough for logging trucks, school buses, farmers hauling hay, and maybe, if each drove slowly, two cars coming in opposite directions.

The old standard-issue green, steel-and-timber truss bridge northeast of downtown Darrington was built in the late 1920s or early ’30s when fording the Sauk River became just too dangerous.

The old bridge was replaced in 2008-09 by a shiny new structure that is Snohomish County’s longest bridge. Sauk River Bridge No. 414 is twice as wide as the old bridge and has plenty of room for two fully loaded log trucks side-by-side, and plenty of room for pedestrians and cyclists.

The $16.8 million two-span steel truss bridge was built on one side of the river and rolled out over the water and into place just downstream from the old bridge. An innovative cantilever-roller system was used to accomplish this complex task. Once construction of the new bridge was far enough along to allow for traffic, the old bridge was lifted out of the river.

The new bridge features deep foundations to ensure survival during big floods on the river. It handles daily traffic of about 750 vehicles, county officials said.

With its backdrop of the snow-capped Whitehorse Mountain, the bridge also provides a dramatic stopping point for tourists.

The primary contractor for the bridge project was Mowat Construction Co. of Woodinville and the primary engineering consultant was Berger ABAM of Federal Way.

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