Add money and stir: South Park Bridge ready to go – if $ comes

(King County rendering of what replacement South Park Bridge would look like)
The South Park Bridge replacement project is now officially “shovel-ready” if it can just get the federal money sought for construction, says King County. Here’s today’s announcement with the latest on the project (which is needed if that route is to remain open):

Federal, state, and King County officials gathered today alongside the
crumbling South Park Bridge to mark the completion of the lengthy
environmental review needed to replace the bridge. This last step
signals that the county is ready to start construction on a new bridge
next spring, if federal funding for the project is approved.

“Completion of this environmental study means the South Park Bridge is
now ‘shovel ready,'” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “This
bridge is a critical part of our transportation infrastructure and is
exactly the type of project we should be addressing with federal
stimulus dollars.”

Constantine said the South Park Bridge supports the movement of freight,
port access, and job creation. He said it is also a vital transportation
link serving working class neighborhoods. The Executive said he is
increasingly hopeful that King County is well positioned to receive
federal funding thanks to the hard work of Sen. Patty Murray and the
state’s congressional delegation.

In September, King County submitted an application for a Transportation
Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to the U.S.
Department of Transportation. The county and its project partners are
requesting $99 million toward the replacement cost of the bridge. Just
last Sunday, Congress expanded the amount of grant money available to
rebuild infrastructure and create new jobs, which may make a federal
investment in the South Park Bridge even more attractive. The grants
will be awarded early next year.

“If we receive the TIGER grant, we can go out to bid this February,
start construction in the spring, and have the new bridge built in two
years,” said King County Road Services Director Linda Dougherty. “We
have all the pieces in place to have the bridge open to traffic in early

The 78-year-old South Park Bridge spans the Duwamish River and is
located on 14th/16 Avenue South. It is a key transportation asset that
serves the some of the largest manufacturing/industrial centers in the
Northwest, including an international seaport and aviation hub.

A regional economic analysis done for the project estimates there will
be more than 125 direct jobs created for construction of the new bridge,
and another 500 new jobs throughout the state indirectly connected to
the project.

The final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project was
signed today by Harold Taniguchi, director of the King County Department
of Transportation; Dan Mathis, Washington division administrator for the
Federal Highway Administration; and Kathleen Davis, director of Highways
and Local Programs for the Washington State Department of Transportation
(WSDOT). FHWA is the key federal agency responsible for overseeing the
environmental process. WSDOT has helped King County gain the necessary
state and federal approvals for this project.

“This project is located in the middle of the Pacific Northwest’s
largest manufacturing and industrial area and is the lowest-rated,
high-traffic bridge in the state of Washington,” said Mathis. “The
Federal Highway Administration is pleased with the readiness of this
project and hopes that funding for construction can be secured. It is
an important part of this region’s transportation infrastructure.”

The EIS has been eight years in the making, and included studying five
new bridge alternatives – each requiring extensive environmental
scrutiny and thorough coordination with multiple agencies and the
surrounding community. The EIS finalized today highlights a drawbridge
as the preferred alternative, which was the overwhelming choice of the
partner agencies and the local community.

“It has taken the analysis, innovation and efforts of many to meet the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements related to the
replacement of the South Park Bridge,” said Davis. “By signing the
environmental impact statement today, I am confident that King County
has done its job in complying with NEPA. We look forward to assisting
the County in building a new South Park Bridge.”

If the federal funding is received, the county will build the new
drawbridge parallel to the existing bridge over the next two years and
the existing bridge will be demolished in the third year.

The bridge borders the cities of Seattle and Tukwila along with
neighborhoods in unincorporated King County. Because it straddles
multiple jurisdictions and a replacement bridge is such a costly
project, it has been difficult to secure funding. Executive Constantine
has been a champion of replacing the bridge for many years, and has
worked with other elected officials to find a funding solution.

Studies of the South Park Bridge show that the condition of the span is
severely deteriorated and was made worse during the 2001 Nisqually
Earthquake. There is widespread steel corrosion on the main spans,
crumbling concrete piers, and an outdated electrical control system. The
bridge has become increasingly difficult to maintain and repair,
resulting in frequent bridge closures that disrupt both vehicle and
marine traffic.

In 2002, King County inspectors gave the bridge a sufficiency rating of
6 out of a possible 100, per Federal Highway Administration criteria.
This rating has since fallen to 4.

The current bridge is used by approximately 20,000 vehicles a day, and
has a moveable span that opens to accommodate large marine vessels on
the river. It is one of the few Duwamish River crossings for residents
of South Park, White Center, Boulevard Park and other lower-income
neighborhoods that depend on the bridge for access to job centers on the
east side of the river.

In addition, it is located in the middle of an industrial area that
supports an estimated 70,000 good-paying jobs. The city of Tukwila, the
Boeing Company, and the Port of Seattle are all financial partners in
the project.

For more information about the South Park Bridge project, including
videotaped comments of support from community members, visit:

4 Replies to "Add money and stir: South Park Bridge ready to go - if $ comes"

  • brian December 18, 2009 (2:54 pm)

    that’s a great rendering–how much of the construction cost is going to dyeing the Duwamish River that color of blue?

  • CB December 19, 2009 (12:21 pm)

    I am sure the new mayor will kill this project along with every other transportation initiative in the works.

  • Jim December 19, 2009 (4:37 pm)

    CB.. This bridge resides half (East) in the city of Tukwila, and the other half (West) in unincorporated King County. Despite being a bridge between Georgetown and South Park, and a block on either side you are in the city of Seattle, the City of Seattle has nothing to do with the bridge.

  • rob December 21, 2009 (12:08 pm)

    admittedly, i am no civil engineer, but doesn’t 99 million (is that even the total?) seem out of line for a bridge this size? it is a drawbridge which obviously is more complex to build, but still…

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