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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