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Councilmembers: Inspections and funding for maintenance vital for transportation infrastructure


Metropolitan King County
Council News

Councilmembers: Inspections and funding for maintenance vital for transportation infrastructure



Metropolitan King County Councilmembers Larry Phillips and Reagan Dunn, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee were joined by Council Chair Larry Gossett and Council Vice Chair Jane Hague in releasing this statement on last night’s collapse of the I-5 bridge spanning the Skagit River outside of Mt. Vernon:

“We are very thankful no one was seriously injured in the bridge collapse. We owe the emergency crews and first responders a debt of gratitude for their quick response. This collapse, while possibly caused by driver error, should be a reminder of why the County makes thorough safety inspections of all of our King County bridges on a regular basis.

“We are calling on the County Executive and the Director of the King County Department of Transportation to brief the Council on the current state of the bridges within King County and on the inspection schedule to ensure those spans are safe for travel.

“This tragedy is a stark reminder of the challenge facing us within the State Legislature. We currently do not have the financing needed to maintain these aging structures. As the Legislature continues working on the State budget, local jurisdictions throughout the State have a critical need for local option funding tools just to maintain and preserve our existing roads and bridges.

“We urge the State to provide local and regional governments with the financial options to not only make the necessary repairs to the Skagit River Bridge, but to also maintain the vital transportation infrastructure throughout our region.”

King County Bridges—Information provided by the King County Road Services Division

• Total number of steel trusses - 11
• Number of steel through trusses (same type of bridge as Skagit/I-5 bridge) - 8
• Average Sufficiency Rating of all King County steel trusses – 63.0
• 4 of the 11 trusses have a Sufficiency Rating less than 50, meaning they are eligible for Federal Bridge Replacement funds
• Total number of wholly or half-owned King County bridges - 180
• Average Sufficiency Rating of all county bridges (2012) – 71.1
• Average age of entire King County bridge inventory = 46 years
• In the past 10 years, 32 King County bridges have been replaced.
• All bridges have been inspected within the past two years, except for Alvord T which is on a 12 month cycle
• For entire King County bridge inventory, 19 bridges are Structurally Deficient1
• For entire King County bridge inventory, 35 bridges are Functionally Obsolete2
• Of the 11 steel trusses, 3 are Structurally Deficient - Foss River, Alvord T (closing June 28, 2013), and Miller River (closed).
• Of the 11 steel trusses, 2 are Functionally Obsolete - Green River Gorge and Stossel.

1 – Bridges are considered structurally deficient if they have been restricted to light vehicles, closed to traffic or require rehabilitation. Structurally deficient means there are elements of the bridge that need to be monitored and/or repaired. The fact that a bridge is "structurally deficient" does not imply that it is likely to collapse or that it is unsafe. It means the bridge must be monitored, inspected and maintained.

2 – A functionally obsolete bridge is one that was built to standards that are not used today. These bridges are not automatically rated as structurally deficient, nor are they inherently unsafe. Functionally obsolete bridges are those that do not have adequate lane widths, shoulder widths, or vertical clearances to serve current traffic demand, or those that may be occasionally flooded.

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