MARYSVILLE — Thanksgiving is the date that the city of Marysville has had its eye on, when planning the completion of the 156th Street and Interstate 5 over-crossing project.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony on the 156th Street over-crossing was originally scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14, but has been delayed. The opening is aimed to ensure that the two-lane bridge would open prior to the “Black Friday” holiday shopping rush.
Patrick Gruenhagen, the project manager with the Marysville Public Works Department’s Engineering Division, explained that Atkinson Construction was awarded the contract for $9,394,048.20, comfortably below the $9.8 million total budgeted for construction. While five changes to construction plans added $112,000 to Atkinson’s price tag, over-runs and under-runs also subtracted $73,000 from that amount.
“We’d originally scheduled the construction window almost to the end of January, but with any luck, we’ll be done before Thanksgiving,” Gruenhagen said of the now $9.43 million project, which has laid approximately 4,000 feet of new pavement for a bridge at 156th Street with two 6-foot-wide sidewalks, two 3-foot-wide bike lanes and two 11-foot-wide car lanes. “We were very fortunate through the fall, since this August and September were among the driest on record in this state. We’d finished building up the approaches by last month, but the paving went much slower, since you’re not supposed to lay down asphalt when it’s wet.”
Gruenhagen also noted the significant amount of earth-moving involved in this project, since building up the new 27th Avenue roadway and the two bridge approach embankments on either side of I-5 required crews to truck approximately 52,000 cubic yards of gravel borrow to the site from the nearby Simpson Gravel Pit on Fire Trail Road.
“Each truck can carry, on average, approximately 15 cubic yards of material,” Gruenhagen said. “This equates to roughly 3,500 truckloads of fill material that were imported to the site over the life of the project. This excludes truckloads of concrete, asphalt and rock that we moved, which would have added to that total.”
Gruenhagen spoke glowingly of Atkinson’s professionalism and experience in constructing such bridges, which he cited as being in evidence even in the midst of unforeseen difficulties.
“The columns supporting this bridge are 7 feet in diameter and go down 120 feet below the ground,” Gruenhagen said. “When crews were drilling one of the 120-foot-deep holes for those columns, they hit a water main and freezing-temperature water was just gushing everywhere. Malcolm Drilling, Atkinson’s subcontractor, had their folks out on the site the following day, which was a Saturday, and the work remained on schedule.”
Although project engineers attempt as best they can to plan for all eventualities, Gruenhagen acknowledged that unexpected issues almost inevitably occur, so the best he believes he can hope for in such circumstances is for crews to resolve those problems quickly.
Those who are interested in seeing how this project has progressed can check out its official YouTube user page at www.youtube.com/user/MarysvilleBridge.