The Washington State Department of Transportation takes the lead on maintenance for the Interstate Bridge, which spans the Snake River between Lewiston and Clarkston, with preservation and maintenance costs shared between the two states. Last week’s work included some of the maintenance done regularly on the bridge.

The Interstate Bridge opened to traffic in 1939, replacing the first such bridge, which had opened in 1899.

The current bridge is 1,424 feet long, and average daily traffic is nearly 20,000, according to online information provided by the Washington DOT. The DOT completed a deck repair and concrete overlay in 2006, and the steel members were last painted in 2002.

In spring 1987, Donald T. Tuschoff, a longtime Clarkston business owner who now lives in Missoula, spearheaded a successful effort to get the Washington DOT to paint the Interstate Bridge blue instead of the traditional pale green of many bridges in Washington. Many residents of the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley simply refer to it as the Blue Bridge.

There are a number of moveable bridges around the state of Washington, but the Interstate Bridge is the only one east of the Cascades, according to Ryan Haberman, bridge maintenance supervisor for the DOT’s Region 5 in southeastern Washington.

Anyone can request an opening of the Interstate Bridge by calling the bridge tender. Here’s how:

Restrictions on marine openings: From March 15 to Nov. 15, openings for marine traffic generally are at 6 a.m., 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. From Nov. 16 through March 14, openings for marine traffic generally are at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Request an opening: Call the bridge tender at (509) 577-1910 at least two hours before the intended opening Monday through Thursday. Marine opening requests for Friday through Sunday must be given by 5 p.m. on the preceding Wednesday. For holidays, opening requests must be made by 5 p.m. two working days (excluding Friday) before the intended opening.

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