Special Reports

Weather delays bridge changes

This week's rain has pushed back the opening of three new road segments connected with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge project.

The sharply curving exit to Stone Drive, just off the bridge from westbound Highway 16, was to have closed permanently tonight and was to have been replaced Friday morning with a new offramp to 24th Street Northwest.

A new onramp from 24th Street to westbound Highway 16 also was to have opened Friday morning, and the mainline of westbound 16 would have shifted onto new lanes north of the existing highway.

The westbound realignment would have made room for a construction zone in the highway median where Tacoma Narrows Constructors crews will build retaining walls, improve drainage and do other road work.

Rain slowed the process, according to Claudia Cornish, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Transportation Department.

"You can't do asphalting and striping when it's wet," she said.

If the weather cooperates, Cornish said, the new road segments probably will open around the middle of next week.

The roadway changes are part of the $849 million project, in which a new, mile-long suspension bridge is being built parallel and adjacent to the existing bridge.

The project, which will be paid for by tolls, also includes changes to 2.5 miles of roads, the construction of a toll plaza and operations center on the Gig Harbor side, and modifications and upgrades to the existing bridge.

The new bridge is scheduled to open in April 2007 with a round-trip toll of $3.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693