WSDOT photo of bridge repairs
Spokane's own Max J. Kuney Construction is in charge of getting the Skagit River Bridge back in business.
MJK was awarded the $6.87 million contract to make permanent repairs to the bridge, a high-traffic section of I-5 between Mount Vernon and Burlington that collapsed in May. It was one of four contractors to bid for the job.
"It's a challenging project, it's a fast project," says Max J. Kuney IV, president of MJK. "It's an exciting opportunity."
The job is currently in its design phase, and Kuney expects to start working on site in the next few weeks. The plan is to build the permanent replacement alongside the temporary repairs. Once the replacement is finished, the bridge will be closed to traffic, the temporary repairs removed and the replacement put in.
Gov. Jay Inslee aims to have the permanent replacement finished before Oct. 1, with the temporary bridge closure after Labor Day weekend. He estimates the damage to cost some $15 million.
The Skagit Bridge collapsed May 23 after a too-tall semi-truck clipped an overhead beam. A 160-foot stretch of the bridge gave in, dumping debris and traffic into the Skagit River below. Three people were rescued from the river with minimal injuries, and no fatalities were reported from the collapse, although Washington State Trooper Sean O'Connell died while directing traffic through the detour in the aftermath.
The bridge was closed and traffic was redirected to alternate routes throughout Skagit County for five weeks while temporary repairs were made. The temporarily repaired bridge opened to traffic June 19.
The bridge was built in 1955, a year before the interstate highway system was born. As a major route between Seattle and Vancouver, the bridge saw approximately 71,000 vehicles across the Skagit River each day. The 58-year-old bridge was classified as "functionally obsolete," meaning that it does the job but doesn't meet current standards for lane width and vertical clearance.
MJK is a local family-owned business that's been operating throughout the Northwest since 1930. The company has dabbled in a variety of construction projects, including building and highway construction, pile driving and bridge building and repair.
"We've kind of evolved through different kinds of construction," Kuney said. "Now bridges are our primary specialty."
Since 1989, MJK has taken on and completed more than a dozen bridge projects throughout the state and region.
So this isn't their first rodeo.