Photo courtesy of WSDOT
Last TuesdayGÇÖs rainstorm caused massive erosion to occur underneath a bridge located approximately six miles east of Skykomish.
Photo courtesy of WSDOT Last TuesdayGÇÖs rainstorm caused massive erosion to occur underneath a bridge located approximately six miles east of Skykomish.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has opened a single lane on a U.S. 2 bridge east of Skykomish that was damaged in last week's storm. Alternating traffic is being allowed to pass through the area, but drivers should be aware of upcoming closures as crews continue to perform repairs in the area.

"Drivers should prepare for a full closure of the highway five miles west of Skykomish (milepost 44) on Tuesday night, as crews replace a culvert also damaged in last week's storm,GÇ¥ according to a WSDOT news release.

The bridge was reopened on Sunday morning to accommodate one-way traffic, but WSDOT states oversized loads will not allowed to cross the bridge until further notice.

The stretch of roadway between milepost 49 and milepost 64 was closed on Tuesday, Nov. 17, after heavy rainfall resulted in a large amount of erosion underneath a bridge. The 15-mile section of highway extends from just east of Skykomish to the summit at Stevens Pass. There was no detour route available. WSDOT hopes to have the bridge reopened to two-way traffic by Tuesday, Nov. 24.

"The creek washed away a large amount of material that supports the eastern half of this bridge,GÇ¥ said WSDOT Assistant Regional Administrator Dave McCormick in a news release. "To keep drivers safe, we have closed the bridge to all but emergency vehicles. Our engineers are currently working on an emergency contract to reopen the bridge to traffic.GÇ¥

The section of roadway was initially closed last Tuesday due to two mudslides. WSDOT said checking bridges after serious storm events is standard protocol.

"We routinely check bridges after a storm to look for any potential damage,GÇ¥ McCormick said. "We understand this highway is critical to the region and will work to reopen the bridge to traffic as soon as possible.GÇ¥

WSDOT bridge engineers began working immediately to establish plans for repairs. On Friday, it outlined its plans to restore the flow of traffic.

"Over the past 24 hours our engineers have found ways to expedite the repair process,GÇ¥ McCormick said. "We understand the importance of this roadway to many people, and we are doing our part to get traffic moving as safely and as quickly as possible.GÇ¥

WSDOT's emergency contractor, Granite Construction, worked to rebuild the embankment under the bridge over the weekend, installing a series of jacks to further stabilize the structure. Temporary signals timed to accommodate peak traffic were set in place on Sunday, which allowed alternating one-way traffic to pass through the region.

"Once traffic is being alternated across the bridge, WSDOT contractor crews will then perform additional repair work by rebuilding the foundation underneath the bridge pier by using a jack to lift the bridge and replacing the missing soil with grout,GÇ¥ according to a news release.

U.S. 2 is an integral roadway, providing up to 9,000 vehicles a day with cross-state east-west transportation. WSDOT is seeking emergency relief funding through the Federal Highway Administration to assist with the necessary repairs, which are being estimated between $200,000 and $500,000.

Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas has been closely monitoring the situation, and said United States Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and Washington State Rep. Dan Kristiansen have been keeping him updated.