Contractor Guy F. Atkinson has successfully placed the 10th and final 100-ton (91 tonne) girder on t

Contractor Guy F. Atkinson has successfully placed the 10th and final 100-ton (91 tonne) girder on the new NE 12th Street Bridge over the I-405. Image: WSDOT.

Contractor Guy F. Atkinson has successfully placed the 10th and final 100-ton (91 tonne) girder on the new NE 12th Street Bridge over I-405 in Bellevue.

The 185-ft (56.4 m) long girders are composed of highly-compressed, reinforced concrete and form the structural backbone of the new bridge.

The lift marks the first milestone for a project designed to relieve traffic congestion in area by 2012.

To watch a time-lapse video of the cranes lifting the girders into place, CLICK HERE

On a typical weekday, the NE 12th Street Bridge carries more than 22000 vehicles and is a vital crossing for Bellevue's medical and business districts. When complete in 2012, the new bridge will be taller, wider, have two lanes in each direction, and have a bicycle/pedestrian lane separated from the traffic.

"We're one step closer to providing a better commute for eastside drivers, but we've got a long way to go before we can get drivers on this new section of bridge," said project engineer Seema Javeri. "This is a big milestone for us and we're excited to have completed this critical work."

This work is part of a larger US$ 107.5 million project known as the I-405 Bellevue Braids, which will improve congestion between I-405 and SR 520 by separating vehicles entering and exiting north bound I-405 between NE Eighth Street and SR 520 in Bellevue.

The project is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the 2005 Transportation Partnership Account gas tax.

To keep traffic moving during construction, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is constructing the NE 12th Street Bridge in stages.

First, the contractor will pave and prepare the new section south of the existing bridge.

Then it will move traffic to the new section and tear down the existing bridge. After the existing bridge is torn down, it will build a north section and connect the two together

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