Special Reports

BRIDGE UPDATE

Construction this week on the new Tacoma Narrows bridge:

Divers finished removing the last of the air domes in the Tacoma caisson last week, clearing the way for dredging this week and next.

Crews are using cranes equipped with clamshell buckets to dig sand and gravel beneath the caisson, causing it to push itself to a solid base 62 feet into the seabed.

The first round of dredging has been finished on the Gig Harbor caisson, which is now 31 feet below the seabed. Crews have set up forms on top of that caisson, and on Wednesday they will pour more concrete, extending its walls upward 10 feet in preparation for another round of dredging.

Crews will continue excavating in the median of Highway 16 just west of the bridge. They are using the dirt as fill for the new Jackson Avenue off-ramp on the Tacoma side of the bridge.

Expect nightly, single, left-lane closures on eastbound Highway 16 between 24th Street Northwest and the eastern end of the bridge to facilitate the haul. Work hours are 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

As the dirt is being moved, crews will continue to work in the median on a retaining wall that will establish different elevations for traffic lanes.

They finished the footing last week. The first pour is scheduled for Friday.

Q&A

Q. When are they going to start building the bridge towers? Will there be anywhere to go to watch them work?

A. Tacoma Narrows Constructors' schedule calls for work on the towers to begin in June, though delays on the foundations might push that back.

By that time, the Pierce County waterfront park south of the bridge on the Gig Harbor side should be open and offer excellent views. The park, which has been closed for paving work, is supposed to reopen June 26.

Rob Carson, The News Tribune

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