Video/photos: Ups and downs of new South Park Bridge, in advance of Sunday’s party and Monday’s opening

June 25, 2014 at 10:53 am | In South Park, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

(ADDED TO END OF STORY: How Metro service will change when bridge opens Monday)

Ever been inside a drawbridge as it opens? That’s what our video shows, as recorded during the new South Park Bridge‘s behind-the-scenes media tour on Tuesday afternoon, looking ahead to its dedication on Sunday and opening on Monday, which will be four years to the day since the old bridge’s shutdown. While photographers were inside during the bridge opening, your editor here recorded the next clip from the top deck (much quieter!):

Engineers are proud of how fast the new drawbridge moves – as little as 6 1/2 minutes for a full opening/closing (of course, the time will be variable depending on the marine craft moving along the Duwamish below). It’s operated by two 75-horsepower motors:

But the story of the new bridge (located here) is also in what surrounds it, and in reused pieces of the old bridge, on and below the new one. Read ahead to find out about that and to see a dozen more photos (plus another video clip):

The foot/bike paths along the bridge are more protected from traffic than their predecessors.

And the railings are part of the bridge’s 1 Percent for Art component, with all 41 gears from the old bridge incorporated.

The raingarden on the south side of the bridge is in the right-of-way that the old bridge spanned:

It connects to a path with river access that didn’t exist in the bridge area before. In addition to permeable pavement, some paths reuse century-old red bricks that previously comprised part of 14th Avenue South:

(WSB photo taken Monday – all other photos taken during Tuesday’s tour)
You’ll also see old lampposts and concrete railing from the previous bridge as part of that mix, plus seven interpretive signs. Meantime, back up on the bridge, you might notice its towers echo their predecessors:

The bridge has four lanes, as did the old one, but these are wider:

11-foot lanes, to be precise, with 5 feet for bicycles/pedestrians:

(To compare, see the old one here.) The county notes that the new decking is “made of lightweight concrete that is 22 percent lighter than regular concrete.” That’s part of why the workings inside will use less power:

On Monday morning at 6 am, KCDOT says, the bridge will be opened to vehicle traffic from both ends simultaneously; before the old bridge closed, it was averaging 20,000 vehicles a day, with trucks comprising 14 percent of that. Here’s a bridge-top look northeast to the Boeing side:

And southwest to the South Park side:

Again, that will follow a celebration all afternoon and into the night on Sunday – here’s the schedule for it so far. You’ll be able to walk on the bridge, since it doesn’t open to vehicle traffic until the next day.

And now to bookend this story – here’s our inside-the-bridge video as the span was closed:

The county estimates the project’s total cost at $162 million. The financing included contributions from not just King County, but several other government entities, as announced back in 2010.

(For more photos taken around the bridge on Tuesday, the day before the media tour, see this gallery on our partner site The South Park News.)

ADDED 12:24 PM: Readers asked how Metro will change routes once the bridge opens. Here’s the answer, from KCDOT spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok:

The new South Park Bridge is scheduled to reopen for service between South Park and Georgetown at 6 a.m. June 30. At that time, two bus stops will reopen northbound and southbound on 14th Ave S just north of S Cloverdale St, serving the South Park business community.

When the bridge reopens, Route 60 will operate its former routing on 14th and 16th Ave S between S Cloverdale St and East Marginal Way S. Route 60 will no longer operate on 14th Ave S between S Cloverdale St and Highway 99, and on East Marginal Way S between the 1st Ave S Bridge and Carleton Ave S. Operating via the South Park Bridge is expected to save about 5-8 minutes per trip in each direction.

12 Comments

  1. very excited for the new bridge opening.

    Comment by Marge Evans — 12:22 pm June 25, 2014 #

  2. Thanks for the “Inside Story”! Cool perspective!

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 12:28 pm June 25, 2014 #

  3. I’m so excited the top of my head could blow off and fireworks will shoot out just like Stimpy when he wins the Gritty Kitty jingle contest.

    Comment by sophista-tiki — 12:47 pm June 25, 2014 #

  4. Awesome! I think I can bike to the 60 and ride to work and be dropped off at the back door!! Hooray!

    Comment by Trickycoolj — 1:21 pm June 25, 2014 #

  5. That rain garden is Gorgeous! And I love that they used components from the old bridge into the new one.

    Comment by AmandaKH — 1:34 pm June 25, 2014 #

  6. It really is! We were glad to have wandered over Monday for an early look (our Monday photos in the TSPN gallery, linked at the very end of this story, are better than the ones from the Tuesday tour!). Lots of last-minute work going on but you can get close on the south side; the north side is still a construction-staging zone.

    Comment by WSB — 1:41 pm June 25, 2014 #

  7. I ride the 60 once a week to Harborview, between picking up prescriptions, and occasional appointments. I’ve been hugely looking forward to this as well!

    .

    I appreciate the one bus ride, but it takes nearly an hour each way. Looking forward to shaving 5-8 minutes (according to Metro) on each each way bus ride!

    .

    I do have to say, that I’ll miss the cruise through SP’s Business District, and going past the “new” Transfer Station on the way to the 1st S Bridge, with its Art Piece made of part from the old SP Bridge, that depict a leaf of the span in up/downward motion.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 1:52 pm June 25, 2014 #

  8. Am I remembering correctly that rebuilding this bridge was put on hold indefinitely because of lack of funding? Was it Dow Constantine that finally herded funding together from diverse corners?

    .

    So glad this bridge is functional again!

    Comment by bolo — 2:43 pm June 25, 2014 #

  9. Bolo – it wasn’t exactly on hold BUT at the time the county announced they would close the old one for safety concerns, they did not yet have the funding for a new one. Linked in this story somewhere is part of the October 2010 announcement – four months after the old bridge closed – that funding was finally complete. It really was quite the drama; we covered some of the meetings in South Park with furious, scared community members. Most of the businesses there have managed to survive the four long years of being a “dead end” (road-wise, certainly not community-wise!) but the opening is some months later than first hoped so pretty much it’s a case of ‘FINALLY!’ – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:46 pm June 25, 2014 #

  10. I hope the businesses are ready for swarms of us walking across for lunch! For the last 3 years I’ve heard about great tacos and a coffee shop from the long timers at my office. Can’t wait to ditch the cafeteria without having to drive up towards SODO!

    Comment by Trickycoolj — 7:14 pm June 25, 2014 #

  11. I’m definitely glad to see this bridge come to fruition after 4 long years. Should make life easier for a lot of people. I worked on the power poles on the Boeing side of the bridge for Seattle City Light, and was watching the construction during the early stages.

    Comment by Strike em out Kinney — 12:11 am June 26, 2014 #

  12. Woot!

    Comment by MCJ — 3:25 pm June 26, 2014 #

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