Red Wolf Bridge Construction Period Worrying Emergency Crews
CLARKSTON, WA —
The Red Wolf Bridge will be closed from April 23 through May 25. It's to repair the top layer of the bridge, something the Washington State Department of Transportation says they've never done in the bridge's 40-year history. But this closure will pose problems for emergency crews.
"Basically what we're trying to do is remove the top deteriorating level of the bridge off, and then put down a new layer of concrete. In order to do that work, we're going to have to close it and keep traffic off of it," said WSDOT spokesperson Meagan Lott.
After almost 40 years, WSDOT will repair the Red Wolf Bridge. Drivers should expect delays.
"There's going to be a detour set up so they'll be detoured onto US-12, on Bridge Street along that closure."
On the Whitman County side of the bridge, traffic will be detoured into Lewiston. The bridge will be closed to traffic, including emergency crews.
"We're going to have to look at detouring into Lewiston, across Memorial Bridge, and then back down the highway on that down river road area to get out to Port of Wilma or beyond," said Asotin County Fire Chief Noel Hardin.
He says travelling all that way adds about 20 to 30 minutes to their response time.
"It would at least double or triple the response time at the minimum, depending on traffic and time of day and other things. There's a lot of variables there," says Hardin.
He says worst case scenario would be a major incident that crews wouldn't get to in time.
"Minutes can save someone's life, first of all, and if it's a fire, fires double every minute, so you start tacking those minutes on to a fire, it's a problem. Or you tack those minutes on to a life-saving procedure for someone, it's a huge concern to us," adds Hardin.
In anticipation of the closure, all of the valley's fire chiefs have communicated with each other to make sure your emergencies are covered. Lewiston's Fire Station One will be responding to the Port of Wilma area through mutual aid because they're now the closest responders. But that still presents problems.
"It's still a concern. If they're busy, we can't always count on them either," said Hardin.
Chief Hardin says WSDOT did have an option to open one side of the bridge to emergency vehicles, but that would take an extra thirty days and $500,000 to complete the project. WSDOT opted to instead go for a thirty-day completion.