Special Reports

Bridge update: Feb. 18

Construction this week on the new Tacoma Narrows bridge:

The spotlight will be on cable wrapping this week.

Tacoma Narrows Constructors needs to wrap the main cables with hundreds of miles of fine galvanized wire as a protective outer coating. The Japanese subcontractor, NSKB, has four wrapping machines on site, but the cable surfaces need to be dry while they’re wrapped, and that’s causing some head-scratching in this rainy climate.

TNC crews have installed two machines on the bottoms of the cables at the Gig Harbor anchorage and are working their way up, using black plastic to keep the rain off.

This week they’ll take the other two machines to the top of the Tacoma tower and see whether wrapping from top down works better.

Meanwhile, workers continue to weld and bolt the deck sections together. As of Friday, they had 39 of 45 joints at least partially bolted and eight of 45 welded.

Crews will continue dismantling the deck-lifting gantries and hauling parts away. This week they’ll bring in a barge to take lifting equipment off the caisson tops where it’s temporarily stored.

As the bridge nears completion, the state Department of Transportation is putting together plans for an opening celebration in late July or early August. The logistics haven’t been worked out yet, but the idea is to pick a day when people will be able to walk on the bridge before it opens to traffic.

The plan is for a “progressive dedication” with several ribbon-cuttings rather than one big event. Five bridge workers will be chosen by lottery to do the honors, the state says.