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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Twelve

'The Bridge' Became Known All Over the State

The building of Deception Pass Bridge afforded many Northwest writers and journalists much material for stories. The project was of prime importance to farmers, businessmen, builders, tourists and to other Islanders, who saw in the bridge a means of traveling to the mainland, less worrisome than having to reckon on a ferry or passenger boat for mainland trips.

Don Duncan, Seattle Times columnist for many years, wrote about Paul Jarvis, Engineer and co-owner of Puget Construction Company, builders of the bridge. Jarvis, a Northwesterner himself, was an All-American football guard for the University of Washington in 1907 and rowed in the No. 5 seat of a Hiram Conibear crew when it won a National title, and he also "threw a hammer for the track team."

While bridge engineers designed the structure of the bridge, Jarvis' company designed the falsework, and "sometimes that takes more ingenuity than the original design," according to Jarvis.

In 1968, Jarvis laughed at the cost of the bridge, $315,000, and estimated that in 1968 it would cost around two million. Jarvis recalled in Duncan's story how it was a hot day when the center span for the bridge was lowered into place. Horrors! It was three inches too long! Everyone was frantic, but Jarvis knew that steel expanded in the heat. So he worked out the coefficient of expansion for that big center span.

"We needed a temperature drop of 30 degrees, and the span would shrink enough to go into place."

At 4 a.m. the next morning, the temperature had dropped the 30 degrees, floodlights were turned on, and the span was lowered into place, where it fit perfectly. The locking pins were put into place by hand.

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