Emergency Repairs Close Lanes on Tacoma Narrows Bridge

The Washington State Department of Transportation has announced around-the-clock lane closures on the westbound State Route 16 Tacoma Narrows Bridge for emergency repairs to a damaged expansion joint. Two right lanes will be closed for multiple days, reducing travel to two lanes and potentially causing delays and congestion.

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Emergency Repairs Close Lanes on Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Emergency Repairs Close Lanes on Tacoma Narrows Bridge

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has announced around-the-clock lane closures on the westbound State Route 16 Tacoma Narrows Bridge, reduced, two, emergency, may, effective May 13, 2024, until further notice. The closures are necessary for emergency repairs to an expansion joint on the bridge deck.

Why this matters: The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is a vital regional connection, and the lane closures will significantly impact daily commuters, potentially causing delays and congestion that can have a ripple effect on the local economy. The incident also highlights the importance of regular infrastructure maintenance to prevent more severe disruptions.

Two right lanes on the westbound bridge, heading toward Gig Harbor, will be closed for multiple days. Crews will repair the damaged expansion joint and pour new concrete, which requires an extended curing time. During the repairs, the HOV lane will be open to all drivers, effectively reducing travel to two lanes.

The westbound bridge, built in the 1950s, remains safe for travel in the two open lanes. WSDOT crews discovered the issue during a routine inspection on Monday morning. "Crews will work as safely and quickly as possible," stated a WSDOT news release. The exact duration of the repairs is unknown, but they are expected to take multiple days.

The lane closures may cause challenging traffic conditions for travelers heading to Gig Harbor and Kitsap County during the afternoon commute. "WSDOT recognizes that the afternoon commute while these repairs are underway will be challenging for travelers heading to Gig Harbor and Kitsap County," the news release acknowledged.

This is not the first time WSDOT has had to repair an expansion joint on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. A similar emergency repair job on the westbound bridge on January 31 caused significant traffic backups. In 2023, another instance required repairs to an expansion joint.

Approximately 45,000 drivers per day travel the westbound span of the Narrows Bridge. The dual suspension bridges create a vital regional connection, especially important recently due to depleted Puget Sound ferry crews and vessels. The new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, built in 2007 to carry eastbound traffic into Tacoma, is unaffected by the current repairs.

As crews examine the damaged expansion joint to determine the repair strategy, travelers are advised to expect the lane closures to remain in place for at least several days. WSDOT spokesperson April Leigh explained, "The joint allows adjacent bridge decks to expand or contract slightly when temperatures change." She cautioned that if custom steel components of the joint need replacing, the disruptions could last even longer.

The emergency lane closures on the westbound Tacoma Narrows Bridge are expected to continue for multiple days as WSDOT crews work to repair the damaged expansion joint. With 45,000 daily drivers impacted, travelers should plan for a challenging commute to Gig Harbor and Kitsap County until the repairs are completed.

Key Takeaways

  • Westbound SR 16 Tacoma Narrows Bridge reduced to 2 lanes for emergency repairs starting May 13.
  • Repairs to damaged expansion joint will take multiple days, causing afternoon commute delays.
  • HOV lane open to all drivers, reducing travel to 2 lanes during repairs.
  • Bridge remains safe for travel in 2 open lanes, with 45,000 daily drivers impacted.
  • Duration of repairs unknown, but expected to last several days or longer.