You asked, so we asked: About that long-closed ‘other’ 4th Avenue S. bridge lane

The outside northbound lane of the 4th Avenue South bridge that many might know best as “south of Costco” could remain closed another year. That’s what we found out when we inquired with SDOT as promised. The status of the lane – already closed for more than a year – came up in comment discussion following our recent update on another 4th Avenue S.-related topic, the since-removed temporary bus lane. Here’s how SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson responded to our inquiry about the 4th Ave. section some call the “Argo bridge.” He says the lane was closed “so that the bridge remains safe to travel on,” continuing:

We are still in the process of assessing what work is needed to repair the bridge and ensure public safety.

Since the 1985 rechannelization to 4 lanes, we have seen increased traffic and loads (17,000 daily users in both directions) as well as a deterioration of the cantilevered ends of the span piers. While these restrictions ensure the bridge remains safe to travel on, the outer edges of the bridge cannot continue to support the loads it was carrying. In late 2017, we decided to close the northbound curb lane and restrict large trucks from using the southbound curb lane to protect the structural integrity of the bridge and ensure that it remains safe to drive on.

This project has been complicated by the fact that Union Pacific Railroad owns the right-of-way under the bridge and the permit we received from Union Pacific Railroad requires that we do not work in the Argo rail yard. Working on top of the bridge makes the repairs more complex. As a result we brought a consultant onboard to help determine what needs to be done to make repairs so that we can finalize the design.

Once we get started, the repairs should take anywhere from 6 to 9 months to complete and we hope to have the northbound curb lane reopened by the end of this year or early 2020.

The project has its own page on the SDOT website.

16 Replies to "You asked, so we asked: About that long-closed 'other' 4th Avenue S. bridge lane"

  • 1994 February 28, 2019 (8:27 pm)

    his project has been complicated by the fact that Union Pacific Railroad owns the right-of-way under the bridge and the permit we received from Union Pacific Railroad requires that we do not work in the Argo rail yard. “Didn’t SDOT hire a transportation czar who can help iron this out so it makes sense??UPR should step up and be a better partner to maintain the infrastructure.

  • psps February 28, 2019 (11:26 pm)

    The rail yard was there first, so how did the city build the bridge in the first pace? The RR certainly placed no such restrictions when the bridge was built (and it suited them.) Would they rather have the bridge collapse?  I agree that either SDOT or our representatives in DC have a talk with the FTA or FRA to bring them to heel.

  • The King March 1, 2019 (4:33 am)

    Railroad companies have federally granted rights dating back to the 1830’s, rights that can be viewed as practically above the law. So be careful to complain about them, when it comes to easements and eminent domain they may track you down and run railroad tracks where you reside. Just because. 

    • ArborHeightsRes March 1, 2019 (8:09 am)

      It is time to take a close look at all of the property rights laws that are from the 1800’s and see if they are still relevant to today including  water rights, mineral rights and the  rights of the railroad’s. The world has changed greatly since those laws were put into place.

  • MJ March 1, 2019 (8:45 am)

    RR’s are difficult entities to work with!

  • Jort March 1, 2019 (9:51 am)

    Yet, even with this lane reduction, somehow people are still able to get around the city! For the last month, southbound 35th Ave SW has been reduced to one lane at Juneau. People have had to slow down and go the speed limit, but somehow life has managed to go on. There are no significant delays. It’s almost — almost! — as though we don’t actually need lane upon lane upon lane of car traffic.

    • sam-c March 1, 2019 (11:44 am)

      Wow, it’s a road issue that has barely any controversy and you still feel the need to bust in here with a snarky anti-car comment.   Your trolling worked though, cause here I am responding, lol.

      • Jort March 1, 2019 (2:32 pm)

        You’re absolutely right, SAM-C! There should barely any controversy on permanently reducing the lanes on 35th Ave SW. We reduce the lanes, and life moves on. The best part of a 35th Ave SW lane reduction is that is will increase safety for vulnerable road users and make the street safer for everybody. The histrionics and all-out hysteria surrounding lane reductions is unnecessary. We should be doing more to make our streets safer, which starts by slowing down dangerous, speeding drivers.

        • Canton March 1, 2019 (9:33 pm)

          Slow down jort… And deep breath… This isn’t about 35th, it’s about 6th ave in Sodo… Now exhale…Not sure where your hatred for cars comes from, but will not pry. Don’t you find it odd, the city, had to hire a consultant, vs using city employees, to mitigate the issue? Isn’t this a city attorney’s issue?

          • Jort March 2, 2019 (11:13 am)

            Why does advocating for safer roads mean I have a “hatred for cars?” Why does forcing drivers — through road design — to drive the legal speed limit mean I have a “hatred for cars?” Do you believe that forcing drivers to be safer is such a direct threat to the institution of automobile driving that it could only come from a deep personnel well of hatred and animus? I’m genuinely curious if you could help me understand this assumption for me. Thanks. 

          • Canton March 2, 2019 (8:58 pm)

            Sure, glad to help. First, it’s the sarcastic tone, in which you make your points. “Somehow life has managed…”. And past transportation comments, ” no civilization in modern history… Blah blah, make you seem as if, maybe your current occupation, or other factors, have you a bit biased.

  • steve March 1, 2019 (10:27 am)

    You have rights with easements. The city should sue the railroad for the needed, temporary access.     This doesn’t make sense.   I used to love trains! I may have to re-evaluate my position on this.

    • Railroaded March 1, 2019 (2:10 pm)

      Yes. I agree that the city could push for access. I still love trains. Union Pacific management, not so much.

  • dsa March 1, 2019 (12:02 pm)

    The question I have is has the city tried to work with the RR on any part of this rehab part, or has the city just rolled and said oh the RR permit thingy, we can’t work there.

  • Mj March 1, 2019 (1:23 pm)

    Sam-c thank you!

  • flynlo March 1, 2019 (2:54 pm)

    Several years ago, I believe that Airport Ave S  (at the eastern end of the same railroad yard) was totally rebuilt.  How did they do that with out “working in the yard”?  Sky Hooks?Whenever I see an article regarding the railroads or the waterways, I would like to see questions asked of the city regarding which of our elected congress critters have been coordinating with!   I suspect that the answer would be none of them!

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