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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Benton City railroad bridges to be finished May 20

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Crews were working through the night to finish two railroad bridges in Benton City, Wash., by 6 a.m. May 20, the Bellingham Herald reports. Construction of the BNSF ballast-deck bridges with concrete girders started early May 19. Both are 121 feet long and will allow traffic to pass under the railroad tracks.

The bridges -- which are two separate but interconnected structures -- are part of a Benton County project to realign and widen Webber Canyon Road.

Numerous signal, track, structural and maintenance workers from the railway were on site May 19 building the bridges, said Gus Melonas, BNSF spokesman. Extensive preparation was done -- including having an engineering plan in place and hauling building materials to the site -- so construction could happen quickly and safely, he said.

The county is planning to realign Webber Canyon Road so the roadway will be a straight shot from First Avenue under Interstate 82.

The railroad bridges are being paid for with a $2-million federal earmark, and the $1-million road project will be covered by a federal stimulus grant, said Bryan Thorp, Benton County project engineer.

The county hired the railroad to do the bridge work.

The new railroad bridges will replace the grade crossing at the site. The bridges are on BNSF's Stampede Pass route, which connects the Tri-Cities to Western Washington. The area averages six-to-eight trains a day, although the economic downturn has reduced traffic, Melonas said.

Train traffic was rerouted through the Columbia River Gorge during the bridge construction, Melonas said.

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