It is difficult to commute too far in unincorporated Snohomish County without crossing one of the 204 county-maintained bridges. In order to maintain them, Snohomish County Public Works inspects the bridges every two years, with timber bridges inspected annually. These inspections are performed in accordance with the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS). The 2017 Snohomish County Annual Bridge Report is now available online and details the bridge inventory, conditions, inspection process, and work orders completed during the calendar year.
“We have a top-notch team of engineers, technicians and maintenance staff that takes pride in inspecting and maintaining our inventory of bridges,” Snohomish County Public Works Engineering Services Director, Janice Fahning, said in a press release. “We have a strong track record of keeping our bridges in good condition and pursuing federal funds to assist us in replacing bridges when they become deficient.”
Those factors led Public Works staff to inspect 104 bridges in 2017. The report shows that 69 of the structures are fully or partially constructed of wood, which is a significant reduction from 1976 when nearly 90 percent were timber.
“I’m proud of our team’s accomplishments in evaluating, repairing and managing bridge structures throughout the county. They keep our communities connected and moving,” Snohomish County Bridge Engineer and Supervisor, Darrell Ash, said in a press release. “We also partnered with local cities to inspect their NBI bridges. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) provides special inspections such as the underwater inspection of Red Bridge 537 over the Stillaguamish River South Fork.”
Previous inspections led to May Creek Bridge and Howard Creek Bridge being replaced in 2017. Frequent inspections give county staff lead time to prepare for replacement or repair of the bridges while they are still safe to use. Preliminary engineering work has begun for replacing Trout Creek Bridge and Richardson Creek Bridge and there are plans in place for replacing three other bridges in the future as a result of the inspections.
“Safety is our number one concern when it comes to bridges,” Snohomish County Engineer, Doug McCormick, said in a press release. “These inspections give us a road map for future work.”
The report is forwarded to the County Regional Administration Board. The individual bridge inspections are available to the WSDOT Local Programs and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for review, which will determine if the structures are eligible for federal rehabilitation or replacement funds.