After years of planning, construction began last week on the new Bridge Street Bridge over White River in Sumner.
The city held a groundbreaking ceremony May 24 to celebrate the new bridge and to remember the old one.
“This town loves this bridge and it’ll change a little, but it’ll be a lot better,” Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow said at the ceremony.
This town loves this bridge and it’ll change a little, but it’ll be a lot better.
Dave Enslow, Mayor of Sumner
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The construction crew will start the $17 million project by building three-quarters of the new bridge while keeping the old bridge open for use. Traffic will then be rerouted to the new bridge while crews finish the remaining section of the bridge. There will be no major closures of Bridge Street during construction.
The current Bridge Street Bridge will be disassembled. Pieces of it will be on display with a plaque at a commemorative park that the city plans to build next to the bridge.
“(People) can read about the old bridge,” said Public Works Director Mike Dahlem. “The history isn’t going away.”
Bridge Street Bridge was built in the 1920s and has been the site of various community events, including the bridge lighting around the holidays, which is expected to return after the new bridge is finished.
As it was used more and more, stress on the bridge began to show. It received a 7 out of 100 rating for bridge sufficiency and was deemed “functionally obsolete.”
“Almost 100 years we’ve been using this bridge,” Dahlem said. “It’s definitely time to replace (it).”
Almost 100 years we’ve been using this bridge. It’s definitely time to replace (it).
Mike Dahlem, Sumner public works director
The journey to building the new bridge wasn’t without some bumps in the road.
“We had a lot of obstacles getting here,” Dahlem said.
The city had to secure more than $15 million in funding from state and federal grants, mostly from the state Bridge Replacement Advisory Committee and the Transportation Improvement Board.
Underneath the bridge, city officials found a “no-man’s land” and had to hunt down who last owned the land to acquire it.
While working in White River, construction crews have to work around “fish windows,” or times when fish aren’t swimming through the construction site. Crews will also enlist the help of “bubbleators,” which help absorb machinery vibration to prevent startling fish.
The overall goal of the project is “to have a bridge that functionally works well for both pedestrians and motorized vehicles,” Dahlem said.
The city worked to make the new bridge’s design commemorative with the old one, Dahlem added. While the new bridge will not have a truss, there will be hanging LED lights that can change color for specific events, with lanterns on either end of the bridge to pay tribute to the old bridge.
Lanes over the bridge will be widened, with additional sidewalks and bike lanes. Viewing platforms will give pedestrians a look down White River.
City officials are also looking into renaming the new bridge. Construction is scheduled for 569 working days and is expected to be completed in June 2019.
“This has been a long time coming,” Dahlem said.