How safe is the Cable Bridge?

How safe is the Cable Bridge? »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR got a firsthand look at the safety checks being done on the Cable Bridge. Inspections began this week. KEPR handed over a Go-Pro camera to the workers to get their vantage point below the Tri-Cities' legendary landmark.

Two guys in a cherry picker, lowered over the side of the Cable Bridge and underneath the massive structure driven by thousands of people each day.

We asked the WSDOT crew if they would take our portable camera for a ride.

"Right now, they're just going under the bridge, checking for cracks, wear plates, any discrepancies that they're seeing, and they note that for repair," said WSDOT Lead-Tech Ryan Miller.

Along with looking for cracks, they want to make sure bolts aren't rusted.

"Make sure they're all still in place, no major amount of rust, any of that; they're just checking for general appearance and make sure they're working properly," Miller said.

The inspection is not over yet. On Wednesday, workers will climb through mini-portholes all the way to the top of the bridge with a ladder. They're going to check for rusted bolts, make sure lights are functioning and make sure everything is connected the way it should be.

So far, everything is checking out okay. That's also been the case in past inspections. The Cable Bridge hasn't had any major deficiencies since it opened 35 years ago.

Crews are more concerned with the older bridges. Workers tell KEPR the Blue Bridge is far more difficult to inspect.

"Blue Bridge just has a superstructure where it has more steel, it's got crossbeams, more rivets, more bolts, so there's a lot more that they do check when they're on the Blue Bridge compared to the Cable," said Miller.

In the past decade, DOT workers have tightened up their inspection checklist after learning how earthquakes affected California bridges.

DOT says inspections are crucial.

"They're necessary," Miller said. "Any structure needs to be inspected no matter how new or how old it is. You still have to do inspections to make sure everything's working properly like it was designed to."

Expect one lane to be closed northbound on the Cable Bridge Wednesday and Thursday. Next week, inspections will move to the Columbia River Bridge along I-182 between Pasco and Richland.