The Washington State Department of Transportation shut down a decades-old sinking bridge in Pierce County to drivers.
WSDOT says the State Route 162 Spiketon Creek Bridge in Buckley was closed permanently after pier settlement was discovered. The bridge is 82 years old and no longer safe for drivers.
"We don't close bridges every day, it’s out of the ordinary," said Chris Keegan, an engineer for WSDOT.
The pier settlement was discovered in August when crews surveyed the bridge ahead of maintenance.
"You can tell how the guard rails are starting to settle, so right in the center there,” said Robert Scott, who has lived next to the bridge since he was 11 years old.
"Yeah, I used to run down there and put pennies on the old railroad tracks when you could hear the train coming back for miles," Scott reminisced.
The bridge runs overs the Spiketon Creek and is an essential connection for this area.
"It's heavily traveled, that’s a big vein that goes to South Prairie, and to Orting, and to Buckley. So it's heavily used," said Scott.
WSDOT does not plan to spend the roughly $2 million it'll cost to fix the bridge right now.
"The best thing we can do for the use of public funds is just to close the bridge," said Keegan.
Scott said the closure is inconvenient for people living in the area, but also necessary as he says the list of things to fix on the bridge is growing. For now, residents will have to take a detour.
The detour route around the closed bridge uses Mundy Loss Road, SR 410, and SR 165. The detour will be in place until further notice.
WSDOT says the Foothills Trail directly under the bridge remains open for public use.
The state of Washington is now more than two decades into a program to retrofit the state’s vulnerable bridges.
Hundreds of bridges in Washington state were slated for seismic retrofit in the 1990s, but so far, only a third have been fixed. Around 908 state owned bridges in Washington are part of the retrofit program. Most of those bridges were originally built in the 1970s and earlier. Bridges built in the 1980s or later generally were constructed to modern earthquake standards.
A lot of work has been done; about a third of bridges have been retrofit, 317 to be specific. There are 591 that need retrofitting. Of those, more than 100 have received a partial retrofit. Two of the states’ most vulnerable bridge structures, the Alaska Way Viaduct and the 520 floating bridge are in the process of being replaced.
KING 5's Glenn Farley contributed to this report.