UPDATES to clarify project overall is not delayed

BURLINGTON — Construction to retrofit the Skagit River Bridge has hit an occasional road bump, but there may also be fewer delays, state Department of Transportation officials say.

"We are on track to have the project done, as we said, before Thanksgiving," said DOT spokesman Dave Chesson.

The contractors are trying to work rapidly, and some days they get behind. "Other days they make that up," Chesson said this morning.

Polly Brooks, assistant project engineer for DOT, said work crews have experienced some issues with parts fitting while upgrading the overhead beams on the Interstate 5 bridge. This could mean more time is needed for the construction crews to finish.

Weather could also affect the work, but that remains to be seen.

Brooks said the fitting issues were difficult for engineers to foresee when they reviewed the original 1950s plans for the structure. Changes and the way the structure was actually assembled were not all included in the plans.

“They might be a few days behind, we will negotiate out whether they do get any additional time,” Brooks said.

Closures don’t appear to be affected. Crews have been working six days a week for the past four weeks, and Brooks said they likely would not need to use up all the full and partial bridge closures the budget allowed. Crews were given seven full closures and 36 partial closures to complete the work.

But they have only used four full closures and may only need one more, Chesson said.

Not using these closures means thousands of dollars for the contractor.

Brooks explained there is a $10,000 incentive for a partial closure and a $50,000 incentive for a full closure. However, if crews go over allotted closures, those incentives become penalties.

Construction on the Skagit River Bridge was prompted after a northern span of the bridge collapsed in May. An oversize load struck the overhead truss system. The retrofit of the truss system is the third and final stage of construction. It is meant to reinforce the beams and increase the overhead clearance to prevent another collision.

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