Kummer Bridge to reopen Friday afternoon

The community is invited to join the festivities Friday as the Washington State Department of Transportation reopens the Kummer Bridge for traffic.

A ceremony at the south end of the bridge will begin at 1 p.m. Expected to attend are mayors John Wise of Enumclaw and Howard Botts of Black Diamond; state Sen. Pam Roach; King County Councilmember Regan Dunn; WSDOT Regional Administrator Lorena Eng, and the WSDOT project team.

When the ceremony is complete, about 2:30, the road will be open to all motorists.

The 77-year-old bridge – a link in state Route 169 between Enumclaw and Black Diamond – has been closed since November 2008, after being deemed unsafe by DOT geotechnical engineers. The DOT has known of the bridge deficiencies for some time and attempted a couple of low-cost alternatives earlier in 2008. When those failed to solve the problem, the decision was made to close the bridge and launch a major fix.

Work was made possible by $15 million in emergency funds provided by the federal government.

The root of the problem goes back thousands of years. The bridge was built on the edge of an ancient landslide and the entire southern edge of the Green River Gorge is shifting east and toward the river.

The problem has been evident for years to SR 169 motorists who have noticed that the bridge deck and the highway are not exactly aligned – not be design, but rather due to the west-to-east movement of the entire hillside.