WA Blue Bridge Painting Project Delayed


The Washington State Department of Transportation has announced that work on the U.S. 395 Pioneer Memorial Bridge, also known as the Blue Bridge in the Tri-Cities region in eastern Washington state, has been delayed.

According to a report from Apple Valley News Now, the new paint job was expected to begin at the start of January but has now been moved to start sometime later this month or in early February, while workers finish preparations for construction and containing the area below the bridge.

The painting project is reportedly expected to cost $33.5 million, which is being funded by the National Highway Performance Program.

Once painting begins, people commuting have reportedly been told to expect one lane traffic in either direction, as well as a reduced speed limit, dropped from 55 to 45 miles per hour.

WSDOT has stated that it still expects the project to be completed by early 2025.

Project Background

In December 2023, WSDOT unveiled that the Blue Bridge would be receiving a $33.5 million paint job at the beginning of this year. 

According to a report from the Tri-City Herald, the Blue Bridge was in need of a new coat of paint to preserve its structural integrity.

The four-lane blue bridge reportedly carries Highway 395 over the Columbia River, linking Pasco and Kennewick. According to the report, around 66,000 vehicles travel on the structure a day, which is an important north-south route from Oregon to northern destinations, including Spokane.

The project plans from WSDOT explained that “the existing paint on the Blue Bridge is faded, weathered and damaged and this allows corrosion to occur. Crews will remove the old peeling paint, clean and paint all exposed metal and apply new paint to the entire bridge structure. Crews will also work to complete minor maintenance and repairs such as replacing rivets and signage.”

The paint color being used for the project is reportedly called Air Force Blue.

Florida bridge contractor Southern Road and Bridge reportedly began preparing a staging area below the bridge earlier that month, while traffic control measures were expected to begin on Jan. 3 and paint blasting a few days later.

The staging area reportedly included a containment system to collect paint as it’s blasted from the bridge with a fine metallic powder. The process was reportedly set to involve a vacuum system to collect debris and divert it to a machine, where it is separated as the paint would be disposed of safely and the blasting materials get recycled.

The system’s aim is reportedly to keep material out of the river and off the roadway. Once paint is removed, the bridge will be inspected for rust, bad rivets and bolts. The Federal Highway Administration’s National Highway Performance Program is reportedly funding the operation.

A report from NBC Right Now stated that the painting project was in its second stage, as the Washington State Department of Transportation reportedly completed the first stage at the bottom of the bridge in 2019.

WSDOT anticipated that this project would most likely cause travel delays and temporary lanes closures. It was expected to be finished in early 2025.

Meagan Lott, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, advised motorists to use different routes, particularly during peak commute hours.

Until the project is complete, motorists have reportedly been told to expect slower traffic and a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit that will include fines if drivers speed or drive recklessly on the 2,500-foot span.

According to the report, this project will be the DOT’s largest undertaking in the Tri-Cities region in 2024.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Coating Application; Coating Materials; Coating selection; Coating types; Department of Transportation (DOT); Environmental Control; Government; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Inspection; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Paint application; Paint Removal; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Roads/Highways; Safety; Transportation

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