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Transportation

June 3, 2013

Century-old Alvord T. Bridge near
Kent to close early, on June 5

Executive directs early bridge closure out of an abundance of caution

The King County Road Services Division has moved up the closure of Alvord T. Bridge by three weeks at the direction of King County Executive Dow Constantine, after reported observations from staff that suggest oversize load restrictions were not being complied with.

The bridge, originally built in 1914, spans the Green River on 78th Avenue South at the southern city limits of Kent and has low traffic volumes. It is one of the most deficient bridges in the state of Washington and is classified as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. It had been slated to close June 28.

“We recognize the heightened sensitivity to the potential for accidents involving old fracture-critical bridges such as the Alvord T. Bridge so we are accelerating our closure date,” said Road Services Division Director Brenda Bauer. “I made this decision given the bridge’s location within an industrial area and the potential for load limit violations.”

Just days before the Skagit River Bridge collapse, Executive Constantine personally accompanied inspectors in examining the deteriorating structure. That visit helped prompt the Executive to call for a wider review of all fracture-critical bridges in unincorporated King County, following the I-5 collapse. 

The Executive directed the Roads Division to perform the review to determine whether any additional steps should be taken beyond standard bridge inspection procedures. The bridge review was completed Friday.

Of the 180 bridges in King County’s inventory, eight are fracture-critical through-truss bridges similar to the Skagit River bridge. Of those, only the Stossel Bridge on Carnation Farm Road near the town of Carnation is still open and of a similar era.  In light of the heightened awareness surrounding the I-5/Skagit River Bridge incident, the division will install “low clearance” signs on the bridge and roadway approaches. The signage will reflect Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) standards -- which are more restrictive than federal requirements. The signs are expected to be in place by June 4.  

The county’s ongoing bridge program focuses on preserving bridges by proactively performing repairs, and replacing or closing bridges when repair is no longer feasible.
 
Due to current funding challenges, the county expects to close 35 bridges over the next 25 years. These bridges will have exceeded their useful life and will no longer be safe for public use.