Readers says repave old bridge first

The in basket: When I wrote in a recent column about why the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge will need to be repaved so soon, and the fact the only the new bridge would be done, I got some comments on the Road Warrior blog at Two were certain the old bridge needs a repaving much worse than the new one.

H.W. Slach said, “Drove the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge today and the old one, too. The old one has lots of problems; the new one is great. Stop looking at a calendar and look at the road. If a repaving is done, choose the old bridge when the time comes.”

DAWGFAN063 said, “Have you driven across the old side? The potholes in the center lane almost make the lane unbearable.”

For those who didn’t see the first column, the state said bridges get a thinner layer of asphalt (to reduce weight, I suppose) and need repaving more often than other highways.

I am usually with my wife when I cross the old bridge and use the HOV lane, so I hadn’t noticed the row of rough patches in the centermost of the three general purpose lanes. I didn’t see any potholes when I made it a point to drive it, but it was a pretty rough ride.

The out basket: Chris Keegan of the state’s bridge division, said, “The old bridge received an overlay in 2007 after the new Narrows Bridge was opened. The new Narrows Bridge overlay will be paid for out of bridge tolls, which was the cause for the discussion (about delaying its repaving one biennium to keep tolls low). The old Narrows Bridge overlay will be paid for out of preservation funds which come from gas taxes.

“During the ice storm a little over a year ago the overlay on the Old Narrows Bridge was damaged by the use of tire chains,” he said. “The damage was patched by our maintenance crews.

“We do expect that the old bridge will need another overlay about a year after the new Narrows Bridge.

“Because we can now switch traffic from one bridge to the other to do major projects we will likely do these projects at least a year apart. Being able to take traffic completely off a bridge will make the working conditions much safer for the contractor,” Chris said.


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