Community hears plans for Manette Bridge replacement

The Manette Bridge, which was built in 1930, is considered by experts to be “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.”

Community members attended a project open house Tuesday at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton to have their questions regarding the aging bridge replacement project answered by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) project staff.

The largest issue with the state of the current bridge is Alkali Silica Reaction (ASR).

“ASR in concrete is a phenomenon that was first recognized in the U.S. around 1940 and has since been observed in many countries,” WSDOT officials said. “ASR causes deterioration of mortars and concretes due to the swelling of gel formed by the reaction of alkali in cement-based materials with reactive silica in aggregates, in the presence of water. The swelling of the gel generates tensile stresses in the specimen resulting in expansion and cracks. There is no known way to mitigate and fully address the ASR problem in the concrete foundations of the six piers supporting the steel truss spans.”

Because of this issue, experts reduced the maximum weight allowed on the bridge last year.

“In March 2008, the maximum allowable vehicle weight crossing the bridge was reduced as a result of findings from routine inspection of the bridge,” WSDOT officials said. “Reducing the stress of heavy vehicles on the bridge extends its useful life and keeps it operational until the new one is constructed.”

The new bridge design will make travel easier for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians looking to connect across the Port Washington Narrows.

Construction of the new bridge is scheduled to start in summer 2010. The project will be advertised for construction bids March 2010, site construction is expected to begin in summer 2010 and bridge construction is set to begin early in 2011. The current bridge will then be closed in late 2012 for about three months before the new bridge opens late 2012 or early 2013.

The bridge is one of 49 bridges in the state considered by WSDOT to be “structurally-deficient.” The statewide Bridge Preservation Program funds these bridge repairs or replacements.

“Available funding for this project is a bit more than $83 million, the bulk of which comes from federal bridge replacement funds,” WSDOT officials said. “If the construction cost of the Manette Bridge is less than the allocated funding level, remaining funds will be returned to the Bridge Preservation Program to be used on other bridges awaiting rehabilitation or replacement.”

As a result of the project, WSDOT estimates 630 new jobs will be created.

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