After Monday morning’s rain showers, many Pullman residents spent the sunny afternoon watching the small bridge near Kamiaken Street as it flooded. The water level was high, splashing against the side of the bridge as the current surged onward.
Several families with children huddled near the bridge, peering over the fence at the constant flow of opaque brown water.
Jim Schneider, a maintenance worker with the City of Pullman, said there was a chance the bridge would float away.
“We’re here in case it does float away,” he said of the maintenance crew. “It could get stuck. Nobody’s sure what’s going to happen.”
Dale Rogers, senior engineering technician for the City of Pullman, designed the bridge to slide off its foundations in the event of a flood, swing around and be tethered to two metal poles that stick out from the water. In case the bridge did float away, a crew of maintenance workers was stationed with a construction crane behind the Taco Del Mar restaurant and Thomas Hammer coffee shop to secure it to the metal poles.
Schneider said the bridge has never floated away since it was built in 2006.
“It’s kind of a love/hate thing,” Rogers said. “You want to see (the bridge design) work but at the same time you don’t because it’s the first time this has ever happened … And it would be expensive to put back.”
Schneider said the rains of the past week combined with Sunday’s sunshine likely melted a large amount of snow in the mountains, causing the Palouse River to get backed up. However, he said that from 5 to 6 p.m. the water level had already decreased by four inches.