The current approved funding for the project is approximately $7.1 million, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
One-lane traffic across the bridge regulated by an automated stop light was implemented August 12th and will last until this November while the construction crews lay the foundation for the new bridge, which will be 12 feet away from the current bridge. While the crew completes the new foundation, soil will be removed from the existing bridge, creating a safety concern and driving the WSDOT to limit traffic to the westbound lane as a safety precaution.
The existing bridge was built in 1929 and is 22-feet wide, not large enough to accommodate modern vehicles. The curve in the roadway approaching the bridge makes viewing oncoming traffic difficult and dangerous with contemporary highway speeds. The security of the bridge is also an issue, as it does not meet current federal seismic, flood, or structural standards, according to the Department of Transportation.
The new bridge will have 12-foot lanes and 6-foot shoulders, totaling a width of 36 feet, as well as provide safe passage for vehicles by removing the curve in the road approaching the bridge. The bridge replacement is funded with approximately $6 million from the 2005 gas tax and $1.1 million from pre-existing funds, according to the Department of Transportation.
Although the details of the project which allowed the construction of the bridge in 1929 are not documented at the WSDOT, after reading through the paper’s archives, the Herald speculates that the current bridge was built after highway appropriations passed by Governor Roland Hill Hartley gave $2,052,250 to Pacific County for notable projects including the Ocean Beach highway, the Raymond-Aberdeen highway, and the Kelso to the sea road. These funds equaled one-ninth of the total appropriations Governor Hartley gave to Washington highways at the time, which was $18,768,830.
The January 25, 1929 edition of The Raymond Herald reported “An itemized list of the requests for this district approved by the governor in his budget was received in Raymond this week from Senator Fred B. Norman. Its principal items include the construction of a state bridge across the Naselle, oiling of the road from Chehalis to the ferry landing at Point Ellice, and paving of .6 of a mile within the city limits of Raymond, understood to be from the Third Street Bridge to St. Paul Hill. A number of items for surveys and engineering costs to prepare for several pieces of relocation are also mentioned as well as work to cut out all grade railway crossings.”
According to the paper, some projects the appropriations allowed for included: the Chehalis River Bridge at Pe Ell, $2500; grading from Pe Ell to McCormick, $26,000; Raymond city limits, paving .6 mile, 20 feet wide, $22,800; Raymond to Smith Creek surfacing, $28,500; and the North River Bridge, $100,000.
When the current bridge was built in 1929 it was part of State Road 12, however the first highway that took the similar route of State Route 6 was called State Road 19, construction in 1913. In 1937, the road became Primary State Highway 12 and was constructed to run between Kelso and Chehalis. Numerous railroads ran alongside the highway over the mid-1900s, including the Northern Pacific Railway, the Pe Ell Prairie Railroad, the Chehalis Western Railroad, now the Chehalis Western Trail, and the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad. In 1964, highway renumbering split Primary State Highway 12 into US 101, US 830, and State Route 6.