WSDOT contractors begin SR-509 bridge girder removals

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) contractor crews use two 250-ton cranes to remove eight enormous bridge girders from the State Route 509 bridge between Tacoma and Fife over the weekend. As part of the project, a worker connected the girder to the crane using a custom-fabricated steel plate and rod so that it could be lifted. After coming off the bridge, the girders were staged nearby where they were later demolished. According to WSDOT each massive 146-foot-long girder weighs as much as a blue whale.

WSDOT recently began repairs to a section of the SR-509 Puyallup River Bridge in Tacoma damaged by a rail car fire on Dec. 11, 2002. Intense heat from the blaze damaged two columns and 15 girders. It also closed the highway for more than 12 hours.

Following the fire, bridge engineers inspected the damage. Their assessment resulted in a weight restriction on the bridge and temporary repairs to some piers and girders. Through June 2010, crews will remove and replace the damaged 146-foot-long girders and pour a new concrete bridge deck. The work requires reducing a portion of SR-509 between Tacoma and Fife from four lanes to two lanes. In June, WSDOT awarded the $4.8 million repair contract to Granite Construction Company.

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