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Ceccanti Installs Girders for New Elwha River Bridge in Washington State

Wed November 29, 2023 - West Edition #25
WSDOT


The new bridge will be 502 ft. long and 40 ft. wide. It will accommodate two 12-ft. lanes with two-8 ft. shoulders (the current bridge is 28 ft. wide).
(Ceccanti photo)
The new bridge will be 502 ft. long and 40 ft. wide. It will accommodate two 12-ft. lanes with two-8 ft. shoulders (the current bridge is 28 ft. wide). (Ceccanti photo)
The new bridge will be 502 ft. long and 40 ft. wide. It will accommodate two 12-ft. lanes with two-8 ft. shoulders (the current bridge is 28 ft. wide).
(Ceccanti photo) General contractor Ceccanti recently installed girders for the new Elwha bridge, a span that was originally built nearly 100 years ago that requires an upgrade.
(WSDOT photo) In February 2023, The Washington State Department of Transportation awarded a $27.65 million contract to the Tacoma-based contractor to build a replacement bridge after the original span served the community for nearly a century.
(Ceccanti photo) Over the past several years, the Elwha River has dramatically changed its course and flow, leading to significant erosion around the bridge foundations. As a result, WSDOT estimates the riverbed around the bridge’s piers has lowered 14 ft.
(Ceccanti photo) The new alignment with U.S. 101/Olympic Hot Springs Road will have a more gentle curvature, with a higher design speed at the east end of the bridge.
(Ceccanti photo) Elwha bridge piers were discovered to be built on gravel, not bedrock. Erosion has significantly damaged the piers after the river changed course and flow over the years.
(WSDOT photo)

General contractor Ceccanti has made significant progress on building the new Elwha River Bridge near Olympic National Park in Clallam County, Wash.

In February 2023, The Washington State Department of Transportation awarded a $27.65 million contract to the Tacoma-based contractor to build a replacement bridge after the original span served the community for nearly a century. Replacing the bridge will ensure that the U.S. 101 route continues to be a reliable transportation facility for decades to come.

The new bridge will be 502 ft. long and 40 ft. wide. It will accommodate two 12-ft. lanes with two-8 ft. shoulders (the current bridge is 28 ft. wide). A wider bridge will create a more comfortable crossing for travelers and provide adequate shoulder room for bicyclists and pedestrians. Additionally, the new alignment with U.S. 101/Olympic Hot Springs Road will have a more gentle curvature, with a higher design speed at the east end of the bridge.

Work on the new bridge began on April 17. Since then, crews have been cleared the area and built access roads. These roads allowed them to begin drilling shafts for the outer piers of the new bridge. Most recently, crews set numerous girders on the bridge from Nov. 11-16.

Need to Replace

Built in 1926, the 3-span, 388-ft. concrete arch bridge has served the community for more nearly 100 years. Over the last several years, the Elwha River has dramatically changed its course and flow, leading to significant erosion around the bridge foundations. As a result, WSDOT estimates the riverbed around the piers has lowered 14 ft.

The lowered riverbed revealed the piers' seals, prompting WSDOT to do borings to verify the depth of the foundations. The borings, done in October 2016, revealed the foundations are on gravel, not bedrock. This finding was in contrast to what the original 1926 engineering plans showed. As a result, WSDOT immediately installed approximately 5,000 tons of riprap (large boulders) around both piers to help prevent further erosion. Additional bridge monitoring using tilt meters, crack meters, water flow meters, surveys and visual observations are under way until the bridge can be replaced.

Additional project benefits include:

  • Transit stops on both the west and east ends of the bridge, locations of which were coordinated with Clallam Transit;
  • Relocating the intersection further east to provide better sight lines and intersection geometrics;
  • Installing illumination at the intersection (no illumination is there presently);
  • Building turn pockets on U.S. 101 to Olympic Hot Springs Road;
  • Building a short acceleration lane on northbound U.S. 101 from Olympic Hot Springs Road;
  • Restore the parking access that was there before with a gravel parking lot.



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