Special Reports

Bridge part delay won’t slow work, state says

The state says it isn’t worried about further delays with the second Narrows bridge, even with a piece of it marooned at the Washington-Idaho border.

Claudia Cornish, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said she doesn’t expect the hangup with the 100-ton, 73-foot-long expansion joint to affect the construction timetable.

Crews still have work to finish on the bridge’s deck and aren’t scheduled to install the joint on the Gig Harbor side for another two or three weeks, she said.

In the meantime, DOT will work with the delivery company – Big Boat Movers of Texas – to bring the massive piece to the West Side.

“When you work with engineers, there are lots of possibilities,” said Cornish, who wouldn’t say what those solutions could be.

The problem began last week when authorities refused to allow the 330,000-pound truck carrying the joint down Interstate 90 to enter Washington.

They said it was too heavy, even though it had already cleared five states on its trip from Minnesota.

Cornish said the DOT – which issues weight permits for trucks carrying heavy loads – told Big Boat Movers about the requirements months ago, so they shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

She said it’s a twist of irony for the department: The same weight limits it established for its highways have become roadblocks to its own long-awaited, $849 million transportation project. The second bridge is supposed to open in August, four months behind the original schedule.

Cornish said the department must observe the weight limits, even though it owns the heavy cargo that would violate them.

“We want the expansion joint to arrive, but we want it to arrive legally,” she said.

A second expansion joint, for the Tacoma side, hasn’t even left Minnesota.

And what about the suggestion of Big Boat Movers owner Mike Love? He quipped to The Spokesman-Review newspaper Thursday that the state might have to build the bridge in Idaho.

Cornish immediately let out a chuckle during an interview Friday. “I think we’ll find a solution,” she said.

Brent Champaco: 253-597-8653