EVERETT — Rust patches on the Steamboat Slough bridge on northbound Highway 529 are getting attention.
Crews this week are scheduled to start cleaning and repainting the bridge, which connects Everett to Marysville. Two lanes will be reduced to one during the work.
“Steel truss bridges have to be regularly cleaned and painted to extend their life and make sure they’re in good working condition,” said Mark Sawyer, project engineer for the Washington State Department of Transportation, in a press release. “So this project isn’t all about making the bridge easy on the eyes again, though that is an added benefit.”
The preservation work could mean headaches for those who drive the route, though lane closure times aim to avoid the worst of the jams.
The project will require single-lane closures on the bridge daily, starting at 7 p.m. each night. Work will continue through the nighttime hours. Lanes are to reopen each day by 1 p.m. for the afternoon rush, before closing again at 7 p.m. The speed limit also will be reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph.
“There’s always a lot of traffic around here these days,” WSDOT spokesman Marqise Allen said. People need to “know before they leave home to expect some minor delays.”
Work will continue up through mid-December. Crews will take a break for winter weather, then resume in April. All lanes will be open during the winter hiatus.
The westbound lane of 37th Avenue NE below the bridge will be closed around-the-clock while work is happening. Traffic will alternate using the eastbound lane.
For mariners, bridge openings also will be restricted for several months.
Contractor Abhe & Svoboda is working on the $7.8 million project for WSDOT. The entire project is expected to wrap up next fall.
The work helps protect the steel-truss bridge from corrosion while preserving structural integrity.
WSDOT says maintaining the bridge is more cost-efficient than replacing it.
Bridge inspectors keep an eye on all the bridges on this stretch of Highway 529, including other bridges over the Snohomish River. They are all “in really good shape,” Allen said.
Due to the bridge’s size, work will be done in sections. Crews will encase a section at a time to clean and remove old paint by sandblasting until bare metal is exposed. New primer and paint will then be applied.
Like many projects, this one also depends on fair weather — including calmer winds.
“That containment stuff could act like a kite basically if the wind catches it,” Allen said.
The northbound bridge was built in 1954. It was last painted in 2002. It also got a new deck and floor beams around that time.
The Snohomish River bridge is tentatively scheduled for similar repainting work in 2019, Allen said. It last had a major upgrade in 1994.
Melissa Slager: email@example.com, 425-339-3432.