Public Works Responds To Concerns About The Ferry Docks

On September 25, 2017, LineTime sent the email (below) to Skagit County Public Works. Today they responded, after the intercession of Ron Wesen, Skagit County Commissioner. We are following up with additional questions.

Thank you for your letter. We apologize for our delayed response. We are aware of the issues you’ve mentioned that are listed in the 2016 bridge report.

Bridges in the state of Washington undergo regular inspections per Federal requirements to ensure operational safety.  Each bridge is inspected using the same procedures and report condition ratings. When a bridge is said to be “structurally deficient,” it does not imply that the bridge is in danger of collapse or unsafe to the traveling public. “Structurally Deficient” means that the rating of the bridge is low due to a combination of various issues.  One of those issue could be that a component of the bridge is damaged or is wearing and requires repair or replacement.  If a bridge is open then it is considered safe.
 
You are correct that in recent bridge reports, there have been a number of priority repairs listed. We have already addressed some of those repairs, and some we are working on bid packages for, such as the repairs to the apron hinge pins and the lift arm gussets.

As for the sufficiency rating of 22.86 for both docks, this is due to two separate issues.  On the Anacortes side, the superstructure rating is low because of the condition of the three eastern most concrete girders. You may remember the project we did in 2011, where we replaced all of the girders and bridge decks on the approach spans at both terminals. There were three girders on the NE corner of the Anacortes dock (where the little storage shed is) that did not get replaced due to funding issues at the time. As noted in the bridge report, there is delamination, section loss, cracking and corrosion on the exposed pre-stressed cable strands.  While this is a concern, and one we will address, it does not affect the structural integrity of the dock/span because these girders are located outside of the travel or loading area (where the maintenance shed is located).  However, due to this issue, we inspect these three girders annually.

On the Guemes side, the low sufficiency rating is due to the reduced edge distance of the apron lift arm gussets.  Basically, the hole has become elongated at the pivot-raise-rams-fitting.  As noted above, this is a concern that is listed our maintenance plan, and will be addressed by being repaired or replaced.

Once we repair and/or replace these elements, the sufficiency rating should go back up.  We should note that, like the label of “structurally deficient,” a sufficiency rating is simply a measure used to determine the overall health of a structure. A low sufficiency rating does not necessarily mean the structure is unsafe for travel, the rating is based on various inputs such as traffic volumes, load ratings, geometry, component ratings, scour, etc., etc.  We will continue our interim inspections to ensure all elements of the ferry dock are safe for travel.

We are also aware of the rust/paint issue, and we may qualify for BRAC (Bridge Replacement Advisory Committee) grant funding.  Our plan is to submit both the Anacortes and Guemes transfer spans for painting at the next call.  This would most likely be in 2018 or 2019, depending on the federal allocations to the State for the Bridge Program.

Thank you for your inquiry, and feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

Forrest Jones / Skagit County Public Works


Skagit County Public Works

When walking over on the ferry the other day, I noticed the ramp apron jump at the hinge what seemed like a full inch. I don’t remember seeing that happen before and can only assume the pin and hinge are badly worn. This was on the Anacortes side.

The 2016 Bridge Report lists this as a priority 1 item on the Guemes side (although the "1/2" of slop” mentioned seems understated) but no mention is made of the same problem on the Anacortes side. When is the repair work scheduled to be done on this issue and other priority 1 items? There is considerable rust on the transfer span and apron that seems in several places to be more than cosmetic. This didn’t happen suddenly and looks like neglect. When will these areas be fixed and painted?

I was also alarmed at the 22.86 sufficiency rating of both ferry docks. That seems terrible, given that it is on a scale of a hundred. It suggests the condition of the ramps is not far enough from failure. Would you please explain why the rating is so low and what might be done to raise it? And why the items for repair (like the hinge pin) on the bridge report five years ago are still on the 2016 report?

I understand that there is considerable work on the transfer spans and machinery pencilled into the 2017 Fourteen Year Ferry Capital Improvement Plan for 2023 and 2024. Rachel Rowe, however, has pointed out that "the 14-year plan is a guidance document, not a project planning/budgeting tool.” Are you betting that these worn parts of the bridgework will hold out until then?

Thank you,

Joseph Miller
home@linetime.org