Old Manette Bridge’s functional life officially ends

The following was written by Kitsap Sun reporter Josh Farley.

MANETTE — The final trek over the old Manette Bridge Thursday morning was an undistinguished affair, a far cry from the pomp and fanfare that greeted the steel truss’ final car in July.

Still, the crisp morning was indeed the official end of the 81-year-old span’s functional life and a few souls came to pay their last respects before dawn had broken.

“I knew today was the last day,” said Dave Earl, an inspector at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, one of the last crossers. “I’m just really excited for the new one to open.”

He’ll be able to cross the new span in less than a week. For now, pedestrians will go the way of vehicles and take the Warren Avenue Bridge, a crossing that’s bulged to take on 12,000 more cars since the old Manette Bridge closed to them.

The Manette’s skinny walkway where he was speaking sits just north of the old bridge’s Washington gray colored sibling, built in under a year and a half and far structurally superior. There’s no classic steel truss, having been replaced by the rebar-filled concrete spans ubiquitous in many of today’s bridges.

Crews will start tearing down the old bridge, including its signature steel truss, right away, but part of it might survive into 2013; a contract to remove six of the bridge’s columns hasn’t even been awarded yet. Already, crews have pulled some railings down and removed most of its paved surface. The structure feels tired and ready for retirement.

Other than shipyard workers, a few joggers came to make the crossing one last time.

Daryl Bodlorick took his dog, Jake, for a run across the span he’s been crossing for decades. The South Kitsap firefighter said he’s lived in Manette all his life.

“I told my wife, I’ve got to go across it one last time,” he said.

Hard to say who qualified as the last crosser of the bridge, as people exited on both sides of the span right around the same time. But there wasn’t any ceremony to mark the event anyhow.

Adam Brockus, Bremerton city councilman, also got up early to make the trip a final time.

“Had to,” he said, taking a picture of the span up close on his cell phone camera. “Wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t.”

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