Public Works

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In-water work begins July 15 on West Cashmere Bridge project

Posted On: July 13, 2020

With river construction comes underwater sound monitoring

UPDATE: The 2020 in-water work window was extended through Oct. 31.

 

ORIGINAL POST: With in-water construction related to the West Cashmere Bridge replacement project scheduled to begin July 15, Chelan County reminds recreationists on the Wenatchee River to be especially vigilant when passing through the construction area.

The West Cashmere Bridge crosses the Wenatchee River from Goodwin Road on Cashmere’s west side. Many a river recreationist has boated, floated and paddled their way under the nearly 100-year-old bridge. The route takes them directly past the $25.5 million bridge project, which started construction in April.

The project’s “in-water window,” or the time allowed for Chelan County’s contractor to complete work in the Wenatchee River, is July 15 through Sept. 30 -- for two consecutive summers. This year, temporary pilings, spaced 48 feet apart to support a work platform, will be set in the river and remain there for much of the duration of the project. No river closures are planned during construction.

“We want river recreationists to be mindful of the project and to watch for any signage that will be up at the project site,” said Jill FitzSimmons, public information officer with Chelan County Public Works. “Recreationists will be directed to keep right, or to the south bank, as they pass by the project area.”

The in-water work window typically comes at the warmest part of the year, when water levels are at their lowest and fish life will be least jeopardized. The window, specific to a river and its ecosystem, is determined by various state and federal agencies, which consider weather, water levels, aquatic habitats and the species of fish living in the body of water. The Wenatchee River is home to federally protected endangered species, including bull trout, spring chinook salmon and summer steelhead.

This year, in-water work will primarily consist of the construction of a 300-foot temporary work trestle that will be built just downriver of the current bridge. The work trestle, which will sit on about 30 pilings that are 24 inches in diameter, will be built above the 100-year flood event elevation. It will remain there until the bridge is nearly finished.

The work trestle is necessary for the removal of the bridge’s trusses in September as well as the construction of the new bridge, including its girders, pier and deck.

During the 2020 in-water work window, the contractor also will install a cofferdam near the current bridge’s center pier. The cofferdam will create a dry working area where the new bridge’s center pier will be built. The center pier will be worked on over the winter. It will go in about 50 feet below the river and be about 10 feet in diameter.

Public Works has posted signs cautioning recreationists of the construction at popular put-in areas between Leavenworth and Cashmere. The county also is reaching out directly to rafting and kayaking businesses that frequent the river.

“The Wenatchee River has seen a decrease in kayaking and rafting this year because of the COVID pandemic; however, this is a nearly two-year construction project,” FitzSimmons said. “River recreation and bridge construction will need to co-exist. We want everyone to be safe while having a good time on the river.”

The new West Cashmere Bridge is scheduled to open in late 2021.

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