Bridge near Kent closed down for safety

KENT -- The Interstate 5 bridge collapse that tossed three people into the Skagit River last month has inspectors working overtime looking into the safety of other bridges around Western Washington.

One crossing near Kent scheduled to close later this month is instead closing three weeks early. It’s the Alvord T. Bridge that spans the Green River in unincorporated King County.

The span was constructed nearly 100 years ago and the county says it’s just not safe to keep open to the public anymore.

And now more bridges are under the microscope after part of I-5 collapsed in Skagit County last month.

Workers sealed access to the Kent bridge on Wednesday. Now, inspectors across the region are refocusing their attention on bridges like the 99-year-old span.

“It’s basically at the end of its useful life and we’re closing that bridge,” said road engineer Rick Brater. “Given the events that occurred on I-5, we took a look at it.”

The Alvord T. Bridge isn’t alone; officials in Tacoma say the Puyallup River Bridge also needs serious work. Its 80 years old and it looks like it.

Dents and scrapes left from years of trucks and cars hitting the bridge make the crossing look dangerous – but officials say construction in 2015 that will replace two of the six sections is expected to run $30 million.

King County has eight similar bridges to the Alvord T. and all are constructed like the Skagit River Bridge.

Engineers hope to learn something from that catastrophic accident.

Inspectors in unincorporated King County are busy; they manage and maintain 180 bridges countywide and 30 of those crossings still need to be improved or replaced.