PORT ANGELES — Most of the 44-year-old bridge carrying East Lauridsen Boulevard over Peabody Creek could be lying in the ravine below by noon today, the city’s project manager on the bridge replacement said Tuesday.
Jeremy Pozernick, public works inspector and the city’s project manager for the Lauridsen bridge replacement, said the contractor on the work, Kent-based Scarsella Bros. Inc., estimated Tuesday afternoon the bridge could be “down no later than noon [today].”
“They’re going at it as fast as they can,” Pozernick said.
The city is replacing the aged bridge under a $4.5 million contract with Scarsella Bros., of which 80 percent is paid for through a federal grant and 20 percent with city funds.
Since Monday, Scarsella crews have been using a massive jackhammer attached to the arm of an even-larger excavator to reduce the concrete sidewalks on either side of the bridge to rubble, exposing twisted and rent rebar underneath.
To attack the bridge’s driving surface, crews used the jackhammer to break through either end of the bridge near the structure’s underlying supports.
Pozernick said the bridge’s middle section will be allowed to drop to the creek bed below, which has been shielded with a protective covering.
The bridge span then will be broken into smaller pieces, hauled up the sides of the ravine using a crane and trucked away.
“They’ll probably spend a good week at least cleaning it up,” Pozernick said.
The steady metal-on-concrete banging of the jackhammer could be heard echoing off homes around the Lauridsen Boulevard bridge Tuesday morning.
“It’s very loud,” said Damaris Rodriguez, who lives about 200 feet from the intersection of East Lauridsen Boulevard and South Race Street on the east side of the bridge.
“I can hear it over the radio.”
Pozernick said jackhammering sounds likely will be heard through most of the demolition process as the bridge’s midsection is broken into the smaller pieces and the remaining bridge approaches on either side are demolished.
Arnie and Diana Squire, who live on the west side of the bridge near the corner of 10th and Francis streets, said the banging rattles the walls of their home a bit but said they have not been too fazed by it.
“We just turn the radio up,” Diana Squire said.
The Squires were two of roughly a dozen residents, city staff and contractor representatives who attended a brief ceremony on the west end of the bridge marking the start of its demolition.
“[The bridge replacement] is another step forward for Port Angeles,” Mayor Cherie Kidd said at the Tuesday morning ceremony.
Features of new bridge
The new bridge will feature a driving surface 18 feet wider than the current one, consisting of an eastbound center turn lane, two 12-foot vehicle lanes and two 5-foot-wide bike lanes.
The new bridge’s sidewalks also will be wider than the existing ones.
The Squires said they regularly walk and ride their bikes to get around the city.
They often walked their bikes over the old bridge.
This was because it seemed safer than riding them either on the sidewalk along side pedestrians or on street itself, Diana Squire said, adding that they’re both looking forward specifically to the new bike lanes.
“It’ll be worth it,” she said, referring to the construction noise.
The replacement project also has meant the bridge’s closure, likely until January or February of next year, city staff have said.
Detours around the bridge direct eastbound traffic on Lauridsen Boulevard north onto South Eunice Street, east on East Eighth Street and then south on South Race Street to connect with Lauridsen.
Westbound boulevard traffic is being directed to follow the same route in reverse.
Temporary stop signs have been added to the intersection of Lauridsen Boulevard and Race Street to stand in for the removed traffic signal, which ultimately will be replaced as part of the project.
Port Angeles Police Chief Terry Gallagher said Tuesday that police have received no reports of car wrecks in the area of the detours or the Lauridsen/Race intersection.
“We’ve had a handful of complaints, in respect to people blowing the newly installed stop signs,” Gallagher said.
“But really, it’s been remarkably trouble-free.”
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.