Washington State Department of Transportation crews noticed a crack beneath the Nisqually River Bridge, which is between Olympia and DuPont on Interstate 5, earlier this month.
The bridge, an 82-year-old structure, is regularly inspected to address the structure’s condition and to catch early damage before it becomes more extensive, thus more costly, according to a WSDOT blog.
The most recent inspection on the bridge was before the crack was identified, in 2017. Since then, the crack appeared from the top to the bottom of a floor beam called a stringer.
The Washington state bridge Preservation Office team and WSDOT crews worked together on fixing the crack. I-5 reopened its closed lane just less than seven hours after the beginning of the repair.
The effort to fix the crack left one lane closed over that section of I-5 until repairs could be made.
“We have crews available 24/7 for critical work like this, helping minimize repair and lane closure times, and they swung into action,” the blog states.
Since an estimated 121,000 vehicles travel over the bridge each day, WSDOT crews had to act efficiently.
The estimated time that it was supposed to take engineers and crew members to fix the crack was eight hours, but the team completed the task in just under seven.
“That’s a remarkable turnaround time given the complexity of bridge repairs and the need to work next to moving traffic — and it wouldn’t have happened without many people working together to make it possible,” the blog states.
The solution involved affixing a three-eighths inch steel plate on either side of the stringer for reinforcement.
The WSDOT blog said that it is more cost effective to repair an old structure than to replace it, so regular inspections are what keep the structures afloat.