Hood Canal bridge on schedule

Only seven hours after the Hood Canal bridge closed on May 1, the Washington State Department of Transportation had removed the 471-foot east-half draw pontoon. The pontoon is en route to Sidney, British Columbia, where it will be used as a part of a new marina's pier.

"The disconnection and float-out of the old draw-span pontoon went off without a hitch," said Dave Ziegler, principal engineer for the Hood Canal bridge project.

On May 4, crews removed the old east truss on the Kitsap County side of the bridge.

The D.B. General, the largest derrick barge on the West Coast, hoisted the 1-million-pound section onto a barge. Due to its age and size, the old truss cannot be reused. It will be salvaged by contractor Kiewit-General and recycled.

Removing the old, 480-ton, east truss allowed WSDOT to reposition the derrick barges on the Jefferson County side and to proceed with operations to remove the west truss later this week.

Both bridge sections will be replaced later this month with new trusses. The new trusses feature tubular sections and are 30 feet wider than the existing sections. These larger sections will allow WSDOT to increase capacity on the bridge from two to four lanes in the future.

"These trusses truly show that we're building a bridge for the long term," Ziegler said.

In the coming week, crews will work toward removing the old west truss, draw span, west A-frame and old roadway pontoons. These all are dependent on time and weather.

Check online at www.hoodcanal for construction progress, ferry shuttles and transportation updates affecting the bridge or call 1-877-595-4222.

Boat and ferry-riding safety

The waters around Hood Canal continue to be monitored by a number of patrols. The Navy, Coast Guard auxiliaries from Port Angeles and Bellingham, and Kitsap County police monitor the area.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Diana Wickman said there is not a need for increased patrols during the closure.

"People heed the warnings fairly well," Wickman said.

"Commercial boaters are pretty smart."

For private boaters, current regulations are that they must stay 200 yards from the bridge and 500 yards from machinery during the closure.

Vessels that enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca will be monitored. Wickman said Washington's Coast Guard has partnered with Canada's Coast Guard in keeping the waters safe.

"Our stations are spotted enough along the region that nothing should slip by," Wickman said.

The Coast Guard patrols about 3,500 square miles of waters.

"The Hood Canal area is remote, but we definitely make it here," Wickman said.

Washington State Ferry's representative Susan Harris-Huether said the Kingston to Edmonds ferry usage has decreased by 30 percent but use of all the other nearby ferries has increased.

Washington State Patrol monitors the ferries and will continue searches for suspicious trafficking and walk-throughs.

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