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Bridge replacement on target

Work starts April 18 on $9 million project

— The county is wrapping up preparations to replace the North Meyers Road Bridge.

Yakima County commissioners approved a contract yesterday for construction support and an agreement for funding from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The bridge will be completely replaced at a cost of about $9.25 million. The county will pick up 20 percent of the total cost, while the Federal Highway Administration will kick in 80 percent.

According to Vern Redifer at Yakima County Public Services, work on the bridge is scheduled to begin April 18 and will take until the end of 2017.

A portion of the bridge has already been demolished to protect a gas line running along the bridge. A washout under the bridge last month loosened a slab enough to threaten the gas line, which will not run along the new bridge.

“The new transmission line is to be re-routed under the Yakima River from the Zillah side of the river to a location past Eagle Park on the Toppenish side,” Cascade Natural Gas Spokesman Mark Hanson said.

Work on the gas line is scheduled to begin in mid-April. The high-capacity line serves several communities, including Toppenish, Wapato and Granger.

The new bridge will replace one built in 1947 classified as “structurally deficient.”

The bridge had already been slated for replacement when a hole formed in the bridge deck during the morning commute on Feb. 19.

The bridge was closed immediately due to the danger, and has been closed since.

The county decided against temporary repairs, since the bridge would have closed in April anyway for the replacement project.

The timeline was accelerated due to flood damage.

County officials have wanted to replace the bridge for several years due to safety concerns.

Commissioner Kevin Bouchey said it took the county more than 10 years to pursue the bridge project due to a combination of needing grant funds and environmental reviews.

“It’s all very timely given Mother Nature’s impact,” Bouchey said. “The bridge was going to be closed anyway… but that time has been brought forward several months.”

Engineering design consultant, Berger ABAM, will provide support for the construction project, according to the agreement signed yesterday.

“Our original agreement with them did not cover construction support,” Yakima County engineer Mark Cleaver said.

“The construction on this project has some fairly technical aspects – like the foundations, the girders and maintaining environmental permitting compliance. They have unique expertise in these things and the agreement provides for their support when needed,” he added.

Earlier this month, county commissioners approved an agreement with contractor Cascade Bridge, LLC of Vancouver to replace the bridge.

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