Special Reports

Bridge update: July 2, 2006

Construction this week on the new Tacoma Narrows bridge:

The transport ship Swan and the first 16 deck sections are in position under the west-side spans of the new and old Tacoma Narrows bridges, waiting for the gantry cranes to be prepared so unloading can begin.

The gantries on the side spans are in place, as are two of the four gantries on the main span.

Watch for gantry tests this week. Tacoma Narrows Constructors will lift big bags of water out of the Narrows to see if the gantries can handle the 400- to 500-ton weight of the deck sections.

TNC says it expects to lift the first deck section into place by the middle of July. The first one will go in the exact center of the bridge.

Two road closures will affect eastbound traffic this week.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the eastbound exit from Highway 16 to Tacoma’s Jackson Avenue will close for a month so crews can tear up the exit and build a new ramp to match the new bridge’s permanent eastbound alignment. Exiting traffic will be detoured to the Pearl Street exit.

Bicyclists? Don’t worry. You’ll still be able to cross the bridge. Crews will keep a bike lane open through the construction zone.

Here’s a weird one: Everybody headed from Gig Harbor to Tacoma on Thursday night and early Friday will be routed through the new toll booths. You won’t have to pay, but you’ll have to slow to 15 mph.

Eastbound Highway 16 will be reduced to one lane approaching 36th Street from 7 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, and all traffic will be rerouted through the far-right tollbooth lane in the toll plaza.

Traffic will be crawling, so avoid the bridge during those hours if you’re in a hurry.

TransCore, the company operating the toll facility, asked for the diversion so it can do tests on the transponder-only lanes.

Rob Carson, The News Tribune