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Posted on: October 19, 2022

Lewis and Clark Bridge Safety Status, Updated Oct. 18, 2022


  • The current status of the Lewis and Clark Bridge is safe and open with no restrictions. When WSDOT deems a bridge to have issues that require closure or restrictions we put those into place as soon as possible.  
  • The Columbia River Lewis and Clark Bridge was constructed in 1929 with rehabilitation in 2003.  It receives a full routine and hands-on level inspection every two years involving the use of under bridge inspection trucks (UBIT), manlifts, rope access teams, and ultrasonic testing of structural pins.  The last full inspection was conducted in February of 2022 that included more than 100 hours of fieldwork.  This bridge also receives underwater inspections every five years. 
  • Bent members of the bridge shown in circulated photos are part of a secondary (lateral) bracing system, and are not a part of the primary (vertical) columns that support the bridge.  These bends have been noted by the WSDOT Bridge and Structures office in the past few years during maintenance and inspections. With careful consideration to the bridge design, WSDOT has determined that the flexing of the secondary bracing is due to two failing expansion joints.  The joints, when functioning properly allow the bridge to expand and contract without resistance.  When the joints are unable to move as designed, expansion and contraction of the bridge pushes on the towers and the bracing members flex. During cool weather, flexing is reduced. During warmer weather, the flexing is more notable. The noted flexing and bending in the secondary members is important enough to schedule the joint replacement but is not considered to have an impact on the structures ability to safely serve the public.   
  • During the spring or summer of 2023, two expansion joints will be replaced. This has been widely communicated to communities in Washington and Oregon to prepare for a six-day closure. This work ensures the joints function properly, allows the bridge to expand and contract naturally with changes in temperature, and provides for the rest of the bridge to function as designed for continued service. 
  • In April 2011, small pieces of concrete fell from the underside of bridge on the Washington side in a single location. It was determined that these concrete pieces were left behind after the deck of the bridge was replaced in 2003 and had not been cleaned up by the contractor. WSDOT used a UBIT and removed the rest of the concrete that could possibly fall. WSDOT is unaware of any other concrete that has fallen since this event.  Whenever anything emergent occurs on this structure, WSDOT bridge crews get to the site and assess the situation immediately.  
  • Currently, parking spaces under the bridge are not being used because Port of Longview employees stopped using the lot following the pandemic. There are no restrictions for parking here by Port of Longview employees. There are no safety concerns related to allowed use of this leased parking area. 
  • WSDOT understands the local interest in the future of this bridge. WSDOT is charged with keeping it open, safe and operational and to consider critical capital investments over time. As a bi-state bridge, work to identify how to manage the facility in the long-run and consider potential replacement must include a variety of agencies in both states to understand community and transportation needs. 
  • The CWCOG is actively working to address the long-term needs of the region and the eventual replacement of the bridge. The current Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) includes a brief narrative work item relating to the bridge as an unfunded need. The CWCOG will be requesting planning funds through the next call for projects for the Surface Transportation Block Grant program that the CWCOG Board of Directors will consider in 2023.

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