Sunnyside-Mabton Bridge Closed for Repairs
Drivers between Sunnyside and Mabton will have their drive times hampered over the next few months.
Chris Borrego lives in Mabton, but commutes every morning to Sunnyside to work, using the bridge on State Route 241.
"Everybody goes through here," said Borrego, "I know the trucks that work in dairy pass by here all the time, even in the night. "
But now that convenience is gone, at least for the meantime.
The state was forced to close the bridge yesterday, citing several cracks found near the center of the bridge.
The Department of Transportation says it recently reduced it's 14-ton weight limit on the bridge to 3-tons, until the department had enough funding to make repairs.
However, semi-truck drivers and other big rigs have been neglecting those limits.
The DOT says they've employed various methods to keep people warned about the bridge; whether it's posting signs or even having state troopers hand out dozens of tickets.
However, those warnings have gone unnoticed.
"If we kept it open and people weren't listening to the weight restrictions, we could have seen a catastrophic failure," said DOT spokesperson Meagan Lott, "Even possibly having the bridge collapse into the river."
Right now, drivers in Mabton will have to drive around the bridge, adding almost 15 to 20 minutes to their commute, while the state prepares to seal those cracks.
Commuters like Borrego say the next few months will be heavy on his gas budget, but it will have to do.
"My dentist is there, my doctor is there, everything I basically need or that I have is all in Sunnyside."
The DOT says repairs will cost about $350,000.
Repairs will begin next month and should wrap up by the end of the summer.