The new East Trent Avenue Bridge, which spans the Spokane River near Gonzaga University, is slated to open to traffic this spring, nearly three years after the original bridge was demolished to make way for a replacement, says Jody Qualley, project engineer for the Washington state Department of Transportation.
Construction currently is paused due to winter weather conditions, but the bridge deck and outer barriers have been installed.
Once temperatures warm, crews will paint the outer barrier and pour concrete for the inner pedestrian barrier, followed by grind-and-overlay work at the Trent Avenue-Hamilton Street intersection and asphalt paving on both ends of the bridge.
The East Trent Bridge replacement project is valued at $25 million.
Garco Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the general contractor.
Design plans call for a taller and wider bridge than the previous structure to accommodate flood waters, along with the elimination of the iconic Luten arch design, which is a patented design by early 20th century architect Daniel Luten for a reinforced arch that focused on major stress points for a lighter and stronger structure, according to the Washington state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
Qualley says removing the Luten arches from the new design will help alleviate debris buildup during high-water levels of the Spokane River.
“In the last few years, sometimes (water levels) were really high and debris could get stuck under there, so that’s part of why it was raised,” Qualley explains.
She adds, however, that the new bridge will incorporate the shape of the Luten arches within the design of the outer barriers and railings.
The new bridge will have an arch that’s 4 feet taller than the previous structure in the center. Design plans also call for a 6-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side, one lane of traffic and a roadway shoulder in each direction, and a 10-foot-wide path for pedestrians and bicyclists on the bridge’s south side.
The east side of the replacement bridge also will provide access to trails along the Spokane River, Qualley says.
The new bridge is expected to last about 80 years, she adds.
Demolition began in June 2020 after a few months of delays due to COVID-19-related shutdowns. After 110 years in use, the entire bridge structure was torn down due to a failing bridge surface, crumbling bridge rails, and piers that required continued repairs, according to project information on WSDOT’s website.
Qualley says to keep traffic safe as the bridge aged, four lanes of traffic were necked down to two lanes, by moving vehicles from the outer lanes to the middle of the bridge.
“It definitely exceeded its life expectancy, and being over 100 years old, it wasn’t fully handling the traffic it was meant to,” she says.
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