After a near-disastrous industrial accident last week, contractors at the new Highway 520 bridge have discontinued their practice of unloading steel pipes while 50 mph traffic passes a few feet away.
Flatiron Construction is looking at other options, said Lars Erickson, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). “No deliveries from the Highway 520 mainline will take place until Flatiron completes the evaluation, develops a plan for materials delivery and provides an update to WSDOT,” he said.
Tuesday night, a pipe swung into traffic, where it hit a Metro bus, then an overhead sign bridge, which fell on the bus. The driver and seven passengers suffered injuries that were not life-threatening — including a woman who needed staples to close a cut on her head. At the time, the right westbound lane was closed so a truckload of 120-foot-long steel pipe could park there, with WSDOT’s consent. These pipes are used to build columns in Lake Washington for temporary construction platforms. After a few days off, Flatiron resumed work there Friday, using materials it already has on site, Erickson said.
Flatiron is the prime contractor for the $200 million West Approach Bridge North, which will ultimately carry the three westbound lanes of the future six lane toll bridge where they connect to the Seattle shore. The state is replacing a four lane crossing built in 1963. The floating section and east highrise are being built under a separate contract by Kiewit-General-Manson. Last week, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson called for extra safety training and inspections following the crane accident, and the death of carpenter Joe Arrants of Burien, a foreman for Kiewit who fell March 12 from a highrise span under construction.
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