Cracks lead to closing parking on bridge

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— Public Works officials have prohibited parking on Spokane Street bridge over Mill Creek indefinitely due to cracks in the bridge structure that were detailed in a county bridge inspection report submitted late last year.

“The county did a bridge inspection in 2011, and they identified that as a recommendation,” Public Works Director Ki Bealey said.

While the bridge is safe, Bealey said the report recommended eliminating parking because the total stationary load-bearing weight of the structure is 22 tons.

With an average vehicle weight of around 2 tons, five mid-sized passenger cars parked on the bridge would leave about 12 tons of stationary weight, Bealey explained, noting that moving-vehicle weights are calculated differently.

The report did not list a cause of the cracks in the structure or if the load-bearing weight had changed since 1995.

On Tuesday, two signs were put on either side of the bridge and read, “No parking between signs.”

Saturday morning, however, at least one motorist failed to follow the no-parking instructions while she visited The Cookie Tree.

Bealey noted that deteriorating infrastructure is a common problem throughout the nation, including Walla Walla.

Of the city’s 27 bridges that are inspected biennially, 13 are said to be in need of further engineering studies, which Bealey said will cost a total of approximately $70,000.

The Spokane Street bridge is the only city bridge where the elimination of parking was recommended.

The previous county inspection report showed no mention of structural cracks, Bealey said.

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