First bridge joint arrives

After attracting the kind of attention normally reserved for human celebrities, the first of two large expansion joints destined for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge arrived at its new home over the weekend.

The 100-ton piece carried on a 17-axle trailer certainly did not make the last few days of its journey alone, as plenty of people snapped photos or simply drove by the wide, slow load.

“There was tons of interest,” said Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman Jaime Swift. “It really showed how important this project is to people.”

Swift said Tacoma-based Omega-Morgan Rigging & Industrial Contracting hauled the joint the last 300 miles from the Idaho/Washington border to Gig Harbor, and “they made it look easy.”

He said the truck rolled in at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning, and by Monday crews has taken it off the trailer and were preparing to move it onto the new span.

“Obviously, this is a major milestone toward completing the bridge,” Swift said, explaining that the second expansion joint will be delivered using the same process, and is already on its way here.

He said the original con-tractor, Big Boat Movers, is currently hauling the second joint from Minnesota to Washington, and Omega-Mor-gan will then carry it over the border and to Gig Harbor.

It is expected to arrive at the project site later this month.

Swift said there were a few traffic congestion problems on I-90 during delivery of the first joint, but that the truck pulled over periodically, when feasible, to let cars pass.

Once the truck neared Federal Way, he said it traveled during night hours and traffic was not nearly as affected.

According to the WSDOT, the expansion joints consist of rows of steel joined with neoprene strip seals. Acting like an accordion, each expansion joint is designed to absorb up to 56 inches of deck expansion and contraction that can be caused by thermal changes, wind forces, traffic movement or seismic motion.

They were fabricated specifically for this bridge by the D.S. Brown Co., and will sandwich the mile-long, steel deck.

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