PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County commissioners are expected to approve an emergency closure of the Sol Duc River bridge on Quillayute Road on Tuesday.
County Engineer Ross Tyler told the commissioners during a work session Monday that the bridge sustained structural damage when it took a “significant hit” from an over-height load April 5 and that he does not want to risk more damage to the bridge.
“I’m just not comfortable leaving it open,” Tyler said. “We can’t have loads on the bridge if we have fear that it’s going to damage it further or collapse.”
Tyler said that collapse isn’t imminent, but he does not want any more damage to be done to the bridge before it is repaired.
Had the damage been so severe that bridge failure was imminent, it would have been closed immediately and before going to the Board of County Commissioners, Tyler said.
“We’ve got the authority to close something on an emergency basis without commissioner approval,” he said. “We do have the power to close it and we would have done so if we felt we needed to do it right then. That’s something we’re required to do.”
He said county engineers had discussed other alternatives to closure, such as allowing smaller vehicles or limiting the bridge to one-way traffic, but said a complete closure would be less confusing.
Tyler did not provide a timeline for the closure to commissioners, but said in a phone interview that it could be mid- to late May before the bridge is reopened.
He estimated the repairs could cost around $10,000 or $15,000.
The bridge remained open Monday and will remain open until the commissioners take action at their 10 a.m. meeting Tuesday. They will consider whether to close Quillayute Road between milepost 6.42 and milepost 6.75 west of Forks.
Commissioner Randy Johnson said there was little doubt in his mind that the bridge will be closed.
“If my engineer tells me it’s a concern of his, we don’t need to wait a long time,” Johnson said. “In my mind that needs to go to the top as soon as we can do it.”
Quillayute Road connects La Push Road to Mora Road and provides access to the Quillayute Airport.
Logging trucks accessing timberland up Mina Smith Road make up much of the traffic on the road, Tyler said. They will need to route to Mora Road to access state Highway 110.
“We’ll get it signed up well,” he said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].