Spokane St. Viaduct: Why some of its new surface is getting cut up

(SDOT photos, courtesy Darin Stephens)
Some driving the Spokane Street Viaduct in recent days have asked why squares are being cut from some of its newly paved surface. The questions started in the comment section following our Friday update on the close-to-completion project.

As promised, we followed up with SDOT. Project spokesperson Paul Elliott talked with project manager Stuart Goldsmith and replies that the problem is delamination – some of the new concrete didn’t bond with the old concrete: “Repairing and resurfacing the old bridge deck required a hydro-demolition process to clean and roughen the old deck to ensure a good bond when the new thin lift micro silica overlay was then applied. If there is any oil or other dirt remaining, we can end up with delamination/an inadequate bonding.” (The hydro-demolition process was discussed in our story about a work-zone tour two months ago.)

The delaminated spots were discovered with a low-tech type of testing, which you can see in WSB coverage of the Fauntleroy Expressway seismic-retrofit work back in January – “the best way to determine whether or not the bond is solid is to drag metal chains across the top and listen for problem areas,” as Elliott explains it. The problem spots (we’re checking back to ask how many) were cut out for repairs:

He says the work will not set the schedule back further. Meantime, other work that’s going on includes pouring of the permanent concrete barrier between westbound and eastbound – the green material is the rebar:

And here’s a section after the pour:

Milestones ahead for the project: Friday morning, as noted in our day-by-day closure list, the Harbor Island onramp to the eastbound SSV reopens after its long closure; starting next Monday (August 20th) the 1st Avenue South offramp from the eastbound SSV closes for about 5 weeks, during which time it’ll be repaved.

ADDED 6:18 PM: SDOT’s reply to our followup questions, which included: How much of the resurfaced bridge deck has the delamination problem? Why did it happen? What about concerns of an uneven surface post-repairs?

The percentage of the new roadway requiring repair due to delamination was less than 5% of the total resurfaced area and was well within expectations given the condition and age of the old deck. Delamination repair was anticipated as part of the deck refurbishing process, which is why we test it, and does not delay the project.

Drivers on the roadway, to include motorcycle riders, should not be able to detect the cuts once they are filled with concrete. We will continue to review the contractor’s work to ensure the roadway meets the required specifications prior to the city accepting the work as complete.

50 Replies to "Spokane St. Viaduct: Why some of its new surface is getting cut up"

  • smokeycretin9 August 15, 2012 (5:26 am)

    I just assumed that they thought West Seattle didnt deserve any section of smooth road.

    “ok guys, orders from the Mayor’s Office. Cut it up and patch it with asphalt”

  • Big G August 15, 2012 (7:10 am)

    Great. So not only is the SSV onramp from 1st ave S not going to be finished by the first Seahawks game on 9/16, but now the offramp from the SSV to 1st will also be closed. Unbelievable.

    It’s only close to 100K people descending on Sodo, no big whoop DOT. No reason to finish even close to on time.

  • Yikes August 15, 2012 (8:42 am)

    So in other words, they didn’t clean it enough the first time.

  • Smythe August 15, 2012 (9:04 am)

    In other words they didn’t know what they were doing and the road will be in poor repair from day one.

  • Dave August 15, 2012 (9:05 am)

    So they’re a year late in getting the 1st Ave on-ramp done…but it’s NOT really late because it’s “not their fault”…the dog ate their homework, the sun was in their eyes, etc. If you’re a contractor you don’t get to whine about WHY you’re late, you are or you’re not. Blaming a sub-contractor (for having to tear down and restart the ramp), or getting the right steel, or problems with the railroad right of way…don’t care…that’s YOUR job to manage as a contractor when you come up with a date claiming you can do this in x days. It’s unbelievable they’re a year late but NOT being penalized because it’s all “not their fault”. What’s the point of HAVING a date if you can’t be held to it? Anything that delays a project almost always falls into that “not my fault” category.

  • JEM August 15, 2012 (9:28 am)

    Let’s see if Metro drivers get word of the reroute this time.

  • dsa August 15, 2012 (9:29 am)

    That is a surprising amount of failure.

  • Cheryl August 15, 2012 (9:40 am)

    The project that never seems to end. Ugh.

  • rico August 15, 2012 (9:40 am)

    5 weeks to pave an off-ramp, in what world do these schedules make sense? Apparently not the world up north a few miles where multiple overpasses are constructed in a fraction of the time associated with this boondoggle of a project.

    As usual WSB’s reporting of the facts is fantastic, however, it sure would be nice of there was a entity with enough courage (and credibility) to ask the tough questions about this boondoggle. Not suggesting WSB do this, but sure would be great if someone/thing did.

    Baa Baa white sheep

    • WSB August 15, 2012 (10:26 am)

      “Rico,” where are we lacking in courage and credibility? Is that a backhanded insult or a challenge, or both? I have followup questions out, as noted in the story. I’m sorry we’re not Woodward/Bernstein in everything – though our most recent two awards suggest a fair amount of credibility (Best Government Reporting from the Municipal League of King County and Distinguished Service to Journalism [June A. Almquist Award] from the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional chapter), and unlike most awards, neither is from the “we applied for it” file – but we do our best, honest. Please see “zipline in Lincoln Park kept quiet for 11 months” (working on followup with FOIA’d documents) and “why is Seattle Public Utilities digging up the Myrtle Reservoir lid?” among others. – Tracy

  • brizone August 15, 2012 (9:55 am)

    Wow, what a crappy job this contractor has been doing in every way. I wish SDOT under the Nickels administration had tried **just a little harder** to find someone remotely competent to do the work.

    This sounds just like the people SDOT hired who couldn’t pour straight curbs, remember that one from three summers ago? http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009456950_streets12m.html

  • KT August 15, 2012 (10:21 am)

    This whole project has become a running joke. It must have done wonders keeping those construction industry employment numbers up as long as it has limped along. Just once I would love to hear an elected member of city government utter a critical comment about the project or demand action so I know you are involved. Just once.

  • JAT August 15, 2012 (10:27 am)

    Thank you for getting the explanation. I confess I had a bit of a fit driving past there yesterday morning – blaming poor planning, not realizing it was just poor pouring…

  • Mark August 15, 2012 (10:50 am)

    Thank you WSB… I always know where to turn to get the facts… even if I don’t like the facts.

  • DJ Allyn August 15, 2012 (11:02 am)

    When is this nightmare going to end? I drove home last night at 9PM and it took me an HOUR to get from I-5 across to the bridge. No prior notices that they were going to block lanes at the only pinch-point in the West bound route.

    All I can see throughout this entire project is piss-poor planning and a hell of a lot of excuses.

    I could understand it if this wasn’t the MAIN ROUTE into West Seattle — if it wasn’t, then they could afford to take their time. But this is a critical route and they need to treat it as such.

    I know that they have an excuse about scheduling “calendar days” vs working days, but that needs to be tossed out the window right now. There have been many times I have driven across that bridge and NOBODY has been out there working. Regardless of their claims of being roughly on time, the fact of the matter is THEY ARE NOT. Because of that, they need to be working as many of these good days they have right now, while they still have them.

    I think that it is asinine that I drive 25 miles to and from work every day, and the one mile stretch of this construction takes me three times the amount of time to get through than the other 24 miles I drive.

    I have lost my patience on this.

    On a better note: Good job keeping us informed.

  • rico August 15, 2012 (11:16 am)

    WSB I was in no way questioning the credibility of WSB. Your work is very credible as a news source, no question.

    As for asking the hard question and then calling BS on the inept answer I am not even suggesting that is a role you would want, just wishing someone or some entity would have been done so all along so we would not be still wating for the neverending boondoggle to end.

    West Seattle Chamber of Commerce perhaps, a councilperson, an out of work former Mayor etc.

  • Dale August 15, 2012 (11:38 am)

    The contractor, PCL (Pour & Chip Later) never seemed remotely concerned about ongoing traffic problems getting out of West Seattle. For weeks I would see only 2 people working on the entire length. Never on weekends, Holidays, opening of fishing, Flag Day, chance of rain. I guess the lesson is that the contract had no penalty for being late, so it was.

  • Tony S August 15, 2012 (12:24 pm)

    Would it be possible to find out if any penalties have been acessed for being so colossally late? And if not, why they weren’t? Do DOT projects not include late (and other) penalties?

    • WSB August 15, 2012 (12:36 pm)

      Tony, we have reported that previously, including in the update from last Friday linked in this story. No, there are no penalties. SDOT says that this is actually within the amount of “working days” allotted to the contractor. If they go beyond October 3rd for substantial completion, that’s when penalties would kick in, per SDOT’s project manager – TR

  • Johnny Davies August 15, 2012 (12:29 pm)

    Well, at least the 3 full time contruction workers on this project are excited at the prospect of an extended timeframe of completion. The part-timers don’t care so much, since they’re hardly ever there anyway.

  • bolo August 15, 2012 (12:36 pm)

    I agree, rico, also wishing some executive pressure was put on the flakier aspects of this project. SDOT seems rather impotent, in managing this project don’t you think? Way too many mistakes, slips, redo’s. Wonder what’s still hiding under the surface that has not been divulged yet.
    Ribbon cutting ceremony starting out with a majorly patched surface being sold as “new” does not bode well for providing a normal lifespan.

  • old timer August 15, 2012 (1:01 pm)

    “Substantial Completion”.
    Sounds squshy enough to have the road
    closed off and on for another year,
    while they find/fix more of their ‘oversights’ and
    mis-readings of materials use instructions.
    Is it too late to call in the 99/viaduct team?
    From the speed they seem to work at, we’d only need them for a couple weeks.

    • WSB August 15, 2012 (1:01 pm)

      That is an industry/contractual term, not theirs nor mine.

  • Anne August 15, 2012 (1:26 pm)

    Rico & bolo..nothing preventing you from contacting city council reps by phone/ email is there? Why is it we’re -always asking someone else to ask questions? Seems like I read on WSB recently that the Mayor was planning another meeting in WS pretty soon-maybe you could make a point of being there to voice your concerns in person?

  • rico August 15, 2012 (2:00 pm)

    Good idea Anne, certain to have an impact just like going to DPD development meetings.

    This issue needs a real voice, not just a couple of pissed off citizens.

  • Yikes August 15, 2012 (3:00 pm)

    Big g,

    Don’t forget that not only are there Seahawks games this year at centurylink but also husky games.

  • Billy August 15, 2012 (3:33 pm)

    The whole slab should be redone !!! This is a bunch of BS! Water will find a way under these new cuts in the pavement. Ice expands! This is going to be an absolute mess in a few years. West Seattle is getting screwed !
    I think as much removal as you see in the picture, something was not done right. This is just the inside lane. Some tough questions should be asked! Maybe for a follow up interview. TR,(WSB), We Westsiders love what you do. It shows by all the compliments for quick, well done reporting. I have to say though, your comment to Rico was a little out of line. You except the good comments. But seem to be a bit thin skinned about the slightest adverse comments. West Seattle bloggers have a right to voice an opinion on this onging never ending SAGA. I for one think a good upper cut to the chin ( question )(s) are in order here ! Now go get um ! THANK YOU WSB

  • Anne August 15, 2012 (3:48 pm)

    I know WSB can take care of itself- but what’s with the criticism folks ? They keep us informed & have never balked at tough questions & push for answers. Once again Rico- I challenge YOU to put the questions to local government– easy for you to brush it off by being sarcastic – but you have no problem expecting media to step up.??!

  • Rats August 15, 2012 (4:27 pm)

    Yeah, go to the meeting and talk to the mayor. What a joke! The more I/we try to contact city officials about traffic and development issues, the more frustrated we get. Complaining on the blog is sort of our only outlet. Sad but true.

  • rw August 15, 2012 (4:31 pm)

    I get really tired of these gripe and whine sessions. It has been a tough project for West Seattle residents for sure, and I am not looking forward to a 5-week closure of the 1st Av. offramp, which I use a lot. But the overall project is almost finished, people, and overall I suspect the contractor has been doing a good job both on quality and in managing an extremely intricate project schedule. I do not envy the project managers or think I could have done a better job (some people on this thread obviously think they could have done a better job). Chill and look forward to the excellent roadway we have to look forward to.

  • DJ Allyn August 15, 2012 (5:13 pm)

    I just want it to be over. Because I want it to be over, I get frustrated when I drive by and don’t see a swarm of workers all over the project 24/7. Often times, I don’t see anyone, even though the weather is nice and they could be doing something.

    Perhaps it is because it really does look like it is almost finished. The on/off ramp for the West lanes looks like it has been done for a while now — OPEN THAT BABY UP! The more progress we get to experience, the less bitching people will be doing.

  • bolo August 15, 2012 (6:00 pm)

    Anne of course you are correct that we complainers should be constructively channeling our energies toward council people, mayor, etc.

    And I have done just that for numerous issues in the recent past.
    BUT: My personal experience has been that it does no good.
    In a way it made me feel good that I participated in local governance in the manner taught in middle school civics classes.
    Mostly it was frustrating that my questions and requests were never seriously considered, even though they previously passed viability testing with industry professionals.

    So I am left with criticizing on this news forum, maybe hoping that an “insider” will perk up their ears and carry something forward to good effect.

    • WSB August 15, 2012 (6:11 pm)

      I received SDOT’s answer to my followup questions and am adding it to the end of this story.

  • Harry Reems August 15, 2012 (6:23 pm)

    I see no reason to rejoice when this poorly constructed project is complete, for the bottleneck at I-5 will still be there.

  • Not Surprised August 15, 2012 (6:39 pm)

    At first I found it incredible how they could take so long to do a job Caltrans in the south completes in half the time ( probably due to the fact Caltrans usually doesn’t start demolition and construction before they are ready and then sends actual workers onsite to get the job done).

    Then I was amazed how catastrophic errors would NOT cause delays ( remember the demolition and re-do of the newly poured 1st Ave on-ramp?) only later to be told milestones would be blown past as if there was no schedule, or urgency, at all.
    If that didn’t prove huge cushion in the schedule and incompetence in execution, what does?

    But now I realize this is just a huge experiment to see how much our city officials can mess with citizens before Seattleites REALLY make a fuss. It then became very interesting to observe and I almost don’t want the construction to end.

    It’s truly an amazing social experiment, and I bet even the city officials can’t believe how far they can push things

  • J August 15, 2012 (9:56 pm)

    Reems is right. His choice of pseudonym is questionable but he is right.

  • Nate Grey August 15, 2012 (10:27 pm)

    +1 Not Surprised.

    Seattle voters need to make an issue of this issue. Who is paying for it?! This would not happen in other developed countries – take Germany for instance. Hitler was a crazy mess, but he implemented the amazing highway system there, and repairs are done immediately to this day. The West Seattle bridge 1st Ave bridge project situations are ridiculous.

  • shed22 August 15, 2012 (10:57 pm)

    WSB rocks, as always. I have spent far too much time and energy hating this project. I don’t want to hate it any longer. I just want to rejoice that we are finally – FINALLY – nearing completion. What a mess it has been! Good bye and good riddance!

  • M. August 16, 2012 (12:19 am)

    I once again feel compelled to apologize for travelling between 25 and 28 mph,(it is posted 25 at the construction zones, and there’s a speed indicator to help you eastbound). So sorry many of you feel it necessary to honk and flip me off…
    To the very few who keep it at 30 or under, thanks.

  • kc on the hill August 16, 2012 (6:20 am)

    Simply solution would be to have had a bonus money clause for every day to the project finished early
    we would have been done ahead of schedule.

    As far as repaving, it would be like re plumbing and rewireing a new house, and by the way the roof is leaking too.

    the thought of a redo now… there will be problems for ever

    I say redo the entire east bound and hold the contractor to the fire and have them take responciblilty for there poor workmanship

    piss poor planning, piss poor preformance

  • anonyme August 16, 2012 (7:09 am)

    Who pays for this little boo-boo?

  • MLJ August 16, 2012 (7:12 am)

    Why isn’t the firm working on this project being outed by name? Or did I miss that? Something tells me if there was a big sign at both ends of the project that said “This project is being brought to you by INCOMPETENT CONSTRUCTION CORP.” they’d speed thing up a bit. The trucks and vehicles are conspicuously unbranded.

  • datamuse August 16, 2012 (8:44 am)

    Huh. Nate Grey just invoked Godwin’s Law. Really dude?

  • westseattletouwandback August 16, 2012 (8:46 am)

    end this endless project. Now. Please. Just do your job and finish this work. Now. Please. Please Please Please finish this job. Now. Please. It’s been long enough. Please. Now. Please. Now. Please. Now. Please. Now. Enough already!

  • pjmanley August 16, 2012 (11:33 am)

    But will they get their performance bonuses at the end of the year, like Wall Streeters do, no matter how incompetent they are? This is America! We need to retain the top talent in those jobs! And oh yeah, the longer it takes, the more jobs it theoretically provides. Someday, somehow, some politician will tout this project as a resume-building “solution,” parlaying it into votes and dollars from the construction lobby, and so on. You folks have it all wrong! This is what passes for “progress” today. Better to laugh than cry.

  • Heather August 16, 2012 (2:30 pm)

    Thought it was a new form of crop circles…just one more thing to make W Sea cool

  • West Seattleite August 16, 2012 (7:00 pm)

    Whine, and whine some more. I wish they would have kept the OLD drawbridge. And never replaced the span hit by the drunk sea-captain.

    Truly, I am a bit sick of the West Seattle cry babies…Wahhhhhhhhhhh.

  • Mike August 16, 2012 (11:01 pm)

    M. I’m right there with you. I was slowing down before it hit the 25mph zone and a SPD motorcycle cop was coming up behind me so fast he zipped to the right lane and flew by me then zipped back to the left lane. When he passed me I was down to almost 30mph, so he was probably doing 40-50mph at the time. I also like the people who tailgate me in little cars…because my metal bumper and solid rear axle really care about their plastic front end. Ya’ll have fun speeding in the construction zone, i end up right behind you when we all meet again 10 seconds later trying to get onto I-5 North.

  • Lnk August 16, 2012 (11:54 pm)

    Anyone else stoked about paying for the two pointless human traffic lights that exist at the bottom of the ramp at 1st & Spokane? What a waste of money… especially now that there aren’t really any construction vehicles on the surface.

    How about we eliminate those two positions an put one real cop there to write tickets for all the shmucks that turn left across traffic or run a red light, etc…

    Also, thanks WSB for doing a great job keeping us informed in general.

  • LE August 17, 2012 (12:08 pm)

    I can’t believe all the whining.
    I am impressed that they have managed to keep the viaduct open to traffic during such a major project. And I am pleased that they are even doing the project in the first place.
    My only complaint would be about all the maniacs who think it is appropriate to race and weave through a construction zone at 20-30 mph over the posted speed limit.
    I love the reporting. And I do think some posters are just here to gripe.

Sorry, comment time is over.