Agate Pass Bridge Under Construction
The Agate Pass Bridge, built in 1950 to replace a car-ferry service through Agate Pass, is the only structure connecting Bainbridge Island to the mainland, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This “historic place” plays an important role in the lives of Bainbridge Island residents and commuters (and Peregrine Falcons), and as such it must be vigilantly maintained. In that vein, the Agate Pass Bridge is currently undergoing an extensive cleaning and inspection to keep it in the best shape possible.
From February 13-16 and 21-24, drivers attempting to cross the Agate Pass Bridge in the late morning and early afternoon will likely encounter sizeable delays due to the scheduled bridge cleaning. The timing of the cleaning took the nesting of the Peregrine Falcons into consideration because February is one of the few months that they do not nest on the bridge.
Over the course of the next week, the Agate Pass Bridge will be cleaned of dirt and debris as part of the Olympic Region Bridge Cleaning Program. This will be the third year in a row that Agate Pass will have been cleaned; prior to the 2015 cleaning, the bridge was last cleaned in 1991.
During the cleaning, the bridge will be reduced to a single-lane between 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., while crews scour the bridge with five-gallon buckets and hand-held shovels, meticulously removing dirt and debris by hand. These buckets are then emptied into trucks to be disposed of properly. In addition, construction crews will also inspect the freshly cleaned bridge for potential structural faults, such as rust and damaged rivets, and repair it as necessary.
This meticulous process of cleaning the bridge is used in order to minimize the effect on the Puget Sound, and has proven to have a minimal effect on water quality, but it has a large effect on the longevity of the bridge. In fact, construction crews removed over six tons of dirt and debris from the bridge during last year’s cleaning.
If you are planning to travel off-island during the time frame of the construction (8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.), give yourself a lot of extra time. The Washington State Department of Transportation advises drivers entering or leaving Bainbridge Island to expect a delay of up to 30 minutes.