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Mabton Bridge now closed to big rigs

MABTON - A few days after it was re-opened following bridge deck repairs, the SR 241 bridge near Mabton is again closed – this time to vehicles weighing more than three tons.

The weight restrictions were imposed yesterday, Wednesday, by officials with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) after a crack was found under the bridge.

“It’s definitely not safe for anything over three tons,” says Moe Davari, a project engineer for WSDOT.

He says the restrictions will be in place for the foreseeable future.

“The restrictions are there for now due to lack of funding,” says Davari, noting WSDOT officials in Olympia are trying to locate funds for bridge repairs.

It’s the second time in little more than a decade that cracks have been discovered under the SR 241 bridge. Davari says in 2003 cracks were found and repaired. He says similar repairs are in store this time once cost estimates are tallied and funding is in place.

“We know this bridge is important to the community, but we have to come up with some kind of ballpark figure for what we’re looking at for the cost of the project,” he said.

Until repairs are made to the bridge, Davari says vehicles weighing more than three tons face a detour of about 25 miles round trip, taking SR 223 to SR 22.

The closure applies to school buses, which impacts the Mabton School District. Mabton schools wrap up the 2013-14 school year next Thursday, June 5.

On its website, WSDOT calls for full replacement of the SR 241 bridge, noting the 60-year-old span “…is classified as a structurally deficient structure.”

However, its website also stipulates the project is unfunded.

Until yesterday’s announcement, the bridge had previous weight limits due to the structural defects, but they were far less restrictive.

Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside) says his understanding is that funds will be made available to at least get the bridge open to more vehicles than those less than three tons. “The information I received was that they were going to make the repairs and then re-instate the previous load restrictions.”

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