EXTRA: Italian bridge’s rapid rebuild sparks West Seattle imagination

Several people emailed us Tuesday to point out this story – a construction milestone for a new bridge in Genoa, Italy, replacing one that collapsed 20 months ago (as shown in this video, which also shows the demolition of what remained of the old bridge):

Wrote Elisabetta Povoledo in the New York Times story on the bridge nearing completion and the disaster that brought down its predecessor:

When it was built, in the 1960s, the Morandi bridge was widely celebrated for its artistry and innovative engineering. Its collapse 20 months ago, when a section of roadway fell 150 feet onto a riverbed, became a source of national embarrassment.

An investigation into the causes of the collapse revealed shortcomings in the day-to-day maintenance and in public oversight of Italy’s aging infrastructure. The disaster left Genoa effectively split into two, throwing the lives of its residents into disarray.

The new bridge is being paid for by the private company that operated the failed bridge and many such road facilities in Italy; the project was overseen by the mayor of Genoa. This short video report says the main part of the construction took just 7 months:

There are undoubtedly many differences between the situation there and here; the most important one is that our bridge’s damage was caught before catastrophe, while the collapse in Genoa killed more than 40 people. Also, we don’t even know yet if our bridge will or will not need immediate replacement. But what attracted the attention of those who emailed us was more the Genoa timeframe. Wrote one, “If Italy can do it, why can’t we?”

P.S. If you can’t see the New York Times link, try this paywall-free story from The Guardian,

110 Replies to "EXTRA: Italian bridge's rapid rebuild sparks West Seattle imagination"

  • James April 29, 2020 (12:59 am)

    So why can’t we do this…. come on? 2 years is ridiculous

    • Susan April 30, 2020 (3:32 pm)

      Exactly. Here’s a NYT’s story about the re-opening, including lots of Seattle reader comments.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/world/europe/italy-new-genoa-bridge.html?searchResultPosition=1

    • NotAnEngineer April 30, 2020 (4:56 pm)

      To clarify, the euronews story (second video) stated that the replacement of the Ponte Morandi will take about 2 years (review the very beginning of the video). A quick check of Wikipedia shows that the old bridge collapsed in August 2018. While the final segment of the replacement bridge was installed this month, the bridge isn’t expected to open until July – 23 months after the old bridge collapsed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponte_Morandi). It’s not possible to replace this bridge or the West Seattle Bridge in 7 months. SDOT’s timeline is aggressive but realistic. They’re aware of the urgency.

      • WSB April 30, 2020 (5:30 pm)

        The 7 months was a reference to the actual construction time, not the full project time (I read and viewed a variety of reports beyond the ones linked/embedded above).

  • John Smith April 29, 2020 (1:09 am)

    The only reason the “new” West Seattle Bridge was built was because of emergency federal funding after a ship piloted by Rolf Neslund hit one of the two drawbridges of the old bridge. Before that, Seattle couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for a new bridge. Why would Seattle be able to afford to build *another* West Seattle Bridge now? Why should farmers in Nebraska have to pay for Seattle’s West Seattle Bridge via their federal taxes?

    • Ceepeezie April 29, 2020 (8:54 am)

      It’s a city owned bridge, what do farmers in Nebraska have to do with anything? 

      • United States? April 29, 2020 (9:29 am)

        They are involved in the same way West Seattlites pay for agricultural subsidies in Nebraska. It’s called a Federal Government. We used to think we had one.

        • Baffled April 29, 2020 (12:18 pm)


      • Karl Tull April 29, 2020 (12:07 pm)

        NebraskaYeah, I’m gonna take my horse to da old town bridge I’m gonna ride ’til it fall to da floor I’m gonna take my horse to da old town bridge I’m gonna ride ’til it fall to da floor 

      • AdmiralBridge April 29, 2020 (5:30 pm)

        Nebraska farmers that export their stuff to China ship it from the port in Omaha?

    • Rumbles April 29, 2020 (9:25 am)

      For the same reason we pay for their corn subsidies, or interstate highway improvements, or airport upgrades.  

    • Carrie April 29, 2020 (11:13 am)

      Presumably the same reason Seattlite tax dollars pay for their highways and their farming subsidies. Why wouldn’t federal tax dollars pay for a bridge used by 100k people per day?

    • Matt P April 29, 2020 (11:53 am)

      If Seattle kept all of the dollars sent to the federal government in taxes and received nothing back, Seattle would be far ahead and able to pay for anything we wanted.  Same with Seattle keeping state money: we send more out to other parts of Washington than we get back.  When Seattle needs emergency funding, there should never be any hesitation to give it to them, but that’s the MO of the takers, when the big cities that drive all innovation and send in far more than they get back ask for something, it’s suddenly cries of socialism and unfairness.  

    • Kevin April 29, 2020 (1:23 pm)

      In FY 2018, WA residents paid a total of $90B in Federal Taxes. Nebraska paid $25B. WA has a net federal funding of -$184 per resident, Nebraska is at -$164. That money isn’t going here, it’s going to states like Kentucky (looking at you McConnell/Rand Paul), Virginia, and New Mexico which gets net $8.5k to +$10.3k per resident.It’s not unreasonable to ask for federal aid considering how much our taxes have an outsized contribution to the federal governement.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_tax_revenue_by_statehttps://worldpopulationreview.com/states/federal-aid-by-state/

    • Katherine April 30, 2020 (7:23 am)

      Hmmm… 20 months = almost 2 years….much smaller bridge over a waterway with no commercial traffic.35 months = 2.91 years Private company = tolls 

  • WS Guy April 29, 2020 (3:49 am)

    Durkan should form a blue ribbon committee to study how they did it and deliver a report on it within eight months. 

    • Chemist April 29, 2020 (9:17 am)

      Durkan should bring back The General who was positioned as the interagency get-something-done-like-it’s-a-military-mission/mobility operations coordinator point person during the viadoom phase, and task them with getting West Seattle a bridge that can carry 100,000+ in traffic again.

      • WSB April 29, 2020 (9:27 am)

        Whether he ever really filled that role is a question, before he quietly went away. The Seattle Squeeze “general” – parttcularly during the Viadoom phase – actually turned out to be Heather Marx, who’s got the front-and-center role for this so far.

        • Chemist April 29, 2020 (10:20 am)

          Heather Marx’s title is Director of Downtown Mobility and I’d prefer someone entirely focused on this project, especially an outsider who is project-oriented rather than having built a career at SDOT.

          • WSB April 29, 2020 (10:42 am)

            Just stating a fact. The General still seems to be available as a consultant, though!

          • Jethro Marx April 29, 2020 (3:23 pm)

            If we can’t remember if he contributed last time, would it be wise to hire him again? 

    • John April 29, 2020 (2:43 pm)

      Or they should take all or most of the money out of the helping the homeless fund since they’re claiming that there’s no money for this repair/rebuild

      • WSB April 29, 2020 (4:29 pm)

        No one has said there’s no money for the repair or rebuild. There is no CURRENTLY ALLOTTED money because it’s a new project. The money WILL come from somewhere/something.

    • 1994 April 29, 2020 (10:44 pm)

      Bring on the Italians! A report should be due in 3 months!

  • D April 29, 2020 (6:07 am)

    Will never work here.Rapid and efficient is antithetical to Seattle run infrastructure projects. 

    • CandrewB April 29, 2020 (12:06 pm)

      It’s also just as antithetical, or even more so in Italy… I wonder what lit the fire under their butts.

      • WSJ April 29, 2020 (12:48 pm)

        Dozens of dead bodies, and extremely cheap construction costs.

    • JVP April 29, 2020 (1:54 pm)

      Agreed. Italy is the one place that makes Seattle look efficient. If they can do it, we can do it.

  • JeffK April 29, 2020 (6:22 am)

    We need to push back with ‘2 years’ whenever we hear the city/county/state/feds talk about anything longer.Normal Seattle process needs to get tossed out the window here, otherwise they could still be talking about EIS studies, neighborhood input forums, and funding schemes 3 years from now without a single thing actually being built.

  • Pete April 29, 2020 (6:48 am)

    Unless SDOT and our city council develop a sense of urgency it is gonna take longer than 7 months just for them to decide to do something. 

    • Rick April 29, 2020 (9:07 am)

      Heck,it takes’em the first half of the day to decide which side of the bed to get up from. (Hint:the side with the pile ‘O money)

  • Smittytheclown April 29, 2020 (7:19 am)

    Let’s hope someone from that project is added to our project team.  There has to be others worldwide who have experienced similar or even partially similar circumstances.  We need to get those best practices in front of our local experts because it feels like we are moving at a snails pace. 

    • KM April 29, 2020 (2:35 pm)

      Their “best practices” involved failing to maintain the bridge, causing the death of 40 people at the hands of a private company responsible who is now paying to build the replacement. No thanks.

  • Bob Lang April 29, 2020 (7:33 am)

    So we all see it is very feasible to rebuild a bridge quickly.Declare the bridge a “state of emergency” which it is.  This will help to expedite the process.Just get it done.Very underwhelmed with sdot’s response.SDOT “everything is on the table”. We want that Italian company to build our bridge NOW.

    • Lagartija Nick April 29, 2020 (9:36 am)

      That same Italian company that ignored the maintenance of the bridge that directly caused it to fail in the first place? That one?

      • Bob Lang April 29, 2020 (9:47 am)

        Incorrect.  Did you watch the videos?  

        • Lagartija Nick April 29, 2020 (1:56 pm)

          From the article, “The new bridge is being paid for by the private company that operated the failed bridge…”So no, I’m not wrong.

      • Lisa April 29, 2020 (11:25 am)

        @Lagartija Nick – we’re already dealing with the same agency that “ignored maintenance of the bridge that directly caused it to fail in the first place.” It’s called SDOT.

        • delridge lurker April 29, 2020 (1:36 pm)

          What? They were able to shut down the bridge before collapse (in Italy’s case killing 40 people!!) BECAUSE they were doing bridge maintenance, which increased in frequency before identifying that the bridge could no longer handle daily traffic loads.  It may not be perfect, but they obviously did a better job than the group in Italy!

  • West Seattle Hipster April 29, 2020 (7:44 am)

    Would love to see something like this, but we all know how the “Seattle Process” works in local government.

  • Beth April 29, 2020 (8:24 am)

    Where there is a will. There is a way.And, everyone knows what the question is.

  • Ceepeezie April 29, 2020 (8:47 am)

    Wow, a new bridge in the same time it takes SDOT to just come up with a plan? That’s embarrassing.Shows the very sad state of SDOT… the worst transportation department I have seen by a long shot.Is there anything seattlites can do to hold those yahoos accountable and light a fire under their seats?

  • Go gull April 29, 2020 (9:06 am)

    Let’s talk to that Italian architect, SDOT.  He says the bridge should last 1,000 years…. the Romans do seem to know how to build long lasting concrete structures ;)

  • Mj April 29, 2020 (9:08 am)

    Seattle has spent $100’s of millions on other pet projects since 2014 when a portion of these funds should have been spent on maintenance, now look what happened.  A City that can afford to provide free this and free that can afford to fix/replace the WSB.

  • Mssr Quince April 29, 2020 (9:13 am)

    If it takes 2 years to fix a bridge that only lasts for 10 more, then tear it down now and start over.  The short life span of a pre-stressed concrete structure seems to point to a poor choice in materials. On the cheap in other words. Of note, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge and Tacoma Narrows have 100+ year lives, The Brooklyn Bridge even more.  WA state tax structure does not allow for quality work, or is at best highly regressive.  It seems to me we need a long lived suspension or cable stayed structure that has a long life span.

    • CAM April 29, 2020 (9:29 am)

      Correction, it takes 1 year to build a structure around a bridge to even make it safe to tear down (note the bridge in Italy was in pieces already negating a lot of that need for “safety”) and then they are projecting that IF they are able to fix it, it will take them at least the rest of that year (approximately 8 months) to do so. This has nothing to do with the “Seattle process” and everything to do with the “let’s not let people die unnecessarily” process. I’m surprised so few commenters support that. 

      • Quiz April 29, 2020 (10:38 am)

        @cam I have not read a single comment that advocates for people dying. Don’t kid yourself. The “Seattle Process” is not helping facilitate expediency in resolving this situation. There is a chasm, filled with faster/safe options, between the typical slow process and letting people die.

      • Joe April 29, 2020 (11:19 am)

         note the bridge in Italy was in pieces already negating a lot of that need for safety”

        You may be right, but this doesn’t sound right.

    • Rumbles April 29, 2020 (9:30 am)

      @Mssr Quince Keep in mind there is a lot of air traffic into the Duwamish valley with Boeing Field.  A bridge with big towers won’t work.  That is probably why we have the style of bridge we do.  

      • David April 29, 2020 (9:09 pm)

        @Rumbles — Your comment got me thinking about a word problem that provides a practical use of trigonometry. Maybe some clever high school teacher will consider adding a variation of this to their upcoming trigonometry final.The distance from the high-rise of the West Seattle bridge to the threshold of runway 14 at Boeing field is 15100 feet. Boeing field is at 21 feet above sea level.Assume the high-rise section of the West Seattle bridge is converted to a suspension bridge with towers as high as 750 feet above sea level.If a jet is on approach to land at Boeing Field’s runway 14, at a 3 percent glide slope, how many feet above the 750 foot tower on the West Seattle bridge’s high-rise will the plane be as it passes over? Assume the jet will touch down at the threshold of runway 14?Please show all work.I was surprised how close the plane would come to the tower. 

    • DWitcraft April 29, 2020 (10:27 am)

      I agree on the replacement issue. If it’s going to take a year to figure out if it can be repaired, that’s a year wasted. Millions of bridge joints like the one that failed are in service. Their failure rate is obscure. The bridge was likely damaged in the quake and this damage took a long time to detect. We need to proceed directly.  (Cam)The timeframe to stabilize the bridge relates to repair, not safe removal. SDOT specifically and the City generally have a poor record on communication. We’ll have to see how this proceeds. In Italy they had housing under the bridge. There is nothing under the damaged span(the waterway span) that precludes it’s timely removal.

      • WSJ April 29, 2020 (12:19 pm)

           (Cam)The timeframe to stabilize the bridge relates to repair, not safe removal. ”absolutely, 100% false. Stabilization is required for the bridge to be worked on in any way.

  • tsurly April 29, 2020 (9:44 am)

    After some much needed time off, the armchair engineers are back!

    • West Seattle Hipster April 29, 2020 (12:04 pm)

      Funny you should say that, was waiting for you to chime in with your wit.pot – meet kettle

    • JVP April 29, 2020 (2:00 pm)

      I disagree with your critique, this time around. Folks here are complaining about the Seattle process, not engineering. Some civil E’s I know are also critical of the Seattle process.  Let the engineers do their jobs, and have our politicians remove hurdles to executing, instead of creating hurdles. 

      • tsurly April 29, 2020 (2:49 pm)

        Please point out how the “Seattle Process” is delaying this. People on have continued to complain that “nothing has been done”, “why don’t we know why its cracked” , “why don’t we have a schedule”; all that is driven by the engineering, which takes time. SDOT cannot forecast any kind of project dates/schedules until certain questions are answered. As far as executing work and creating barriers, the city cannot be blame for the full brunt of that. This project will likely involve many stakeholders, the city being only one of them. Just because it is Seattle’s infrastructure doesn’t automatically make them the potential bottleneck (and I say potential because there hasn’t been a bottleneck yet).

  • Bob Lang April 29, 2020 (9:51 am)


  • Jort April 29, 2020 (9:52 am)

    It’s getting comical, all this “JUST GET IT DONE” foot-stomping going on. You can scream at the top of your lungs like a crazy person to “GET IT DONE. GET IT DONE NOW! GET IT DONE NOWWWWW!!!!!” and you’re still looking at two years of a traffic hellscape. Good luck with that. Even if we somehow could do what happened in Italy you’re still — still —  two years away from crossing a bridge with your car. And you will STILL spend two whole years of your life sitting in traffic, no matter what, and there is literally nothing you can do to change this. Get an e-bike, they’re on sale! 

    • Quiz April 29, 2020 (10:10 am)

      @jort, not everyone’s a pushover.

    • Canton April 29, 2020 (12:25 pm)

      Is the key to ranting, the caps, or the bold type?

      • wscommuter April 29, 2020 (1:06 pm)

        Fair point.  The anti-car people are going to continue to troll this message board.  They have the right to do so.  Best just to ignore them.  Question, however, for all the  folks pushing for fast action – are you only ranting here,  or are you contacting offices for city council and the mayor?  Are you contacting Patti Murray and Maria Cantwell and Pramilla Jayapal (because, yes, we’re absolutely going to need federal money)?  If all you’re doing is complaining here, it might feel good, but accomplishes nothing.  Our electeds have to hear from as many of us as possible.  Repeat.  Repeat again.  Only urgency +  money will get the bridge open again in the shortest amount of time possible.  

        • Quiz April 29, 2020 (2:16 pm)

          @WSCOMMUTER, Well said.

  • Mj April 29, 2020 (9:56 am)

    Thinking outside the box – I have a fence that has a few rotting posts in lieu of replacing the fence I prop the fence up. 

    Presuming the navigation clearance can be reduced why not construct a bridge under the existing span to provide added support for the existing structure?  This work might be able to be done concurrent with the shoring work.  And timing wise should be doable much more quickly and may be the most cost effective approach.

    • Rumbles April 29, 2020 (3:22 pm)

      “I have a few rotting fence posts in lieu of replacing the fence I prop the fence up.”

      Please, please, please don’t tell us you are an engineer.

    • BBILL April 29, 2020 (6:44 pm)

      “Presuming the navigation clearance can be reduced” The Coast Guard approval would probably take 3 to 5 years, and it may be denied. So, sure, spend 3 to 5 years seeking to trying to lower the navigation clearance.

  • flimflam April 29, 2020 (9:59 am)

    i think a major reason it was completed so quickly is  two fold – it was considered a national embarrassment and the company that operated the failing bridge paid for it. either way, not going to happen here for so many reasons…

  • Dave April 29, 2020 (10:15 am)

    We actually can do it here.  WSDOT replaced the failed span of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge (admittedly a much shorter span) in about 4 months.  SDOT is on track to spend that much time just doing their “analyses.” They need to admit that they’re over their head and bring in some expertise to get this fixed.

    • Chemist April 29, 2020 (10:36 am)

      During most of their video-meetings, SDOT has said they’re bringing in outside companies and contractors in for various projects.  While SDOT has a bridge engineer in-house, it’s probably not a team of folks that you’d need to design a new bridge or evaluate the strength of the bridge in its currently cracked state.  I suspect they’ve got the “two trains travelling at different speeds” problem going if the bridge is still cracking at some slower rate that needs to be shored up and they also need to design a repair based on unknown “how much has it cracked at the time repair can start”.  They are bringing in outside expertise, but there’s so many uncertainties about the project that it’s doubtful any outside expert would want the job in its current state (how would you even bid on a bridge project you’re uncertain about repair/replace and it has the outside potential to collapse because cracks are still growing).

      • Frog April 29, 2020 (12:17 pm)

        Political winds have shifted in Seattle, and I think that really is part of the problem for SDOT relative to the bridge.  Most of their staff has expertise in reducing roadway capacity, converting car lanes to bike lanes and such like.  Building and maintaining structures for private automobiles, not so much.  Private automobiles are out of fashion (too much CO2, not collectivist enough), and SDOT has staffed itself to transition to a future where private automobiles are gradually phased out.  When suddenly confronted with a massive bridge engineering project, they have few staff who know anything about it and the going is slow.  Their egregious failure to maintain the bridge was also a symptom of that change in philosophy.

        • Michael April 29, 2020 (1:25 pm)

          This doesn’t pass the smell test.  The high bridge was also used by buses.  If you could snap your fingers and make private cars go away tomorrow SDOT would still have bridges to maintain.

    • sw April 29, 2020 (2:51 pm)

      The Skagit Valley bridge is nothing like the WS bridge.  It is a steel span that is an established design with scalable engineering to fit the situation.  The pilings and foundation for the existing bridge were not damaged, the new bridge was built beside it and simply “slid into position” once assembled.  You simply cannot compare the two.

  • Make it go BOOM! April 29, 2020 (10:15 am)

    Thanks for the video WS Blog. Looking forward to seeing the WS Bridge get a controlled demolition soon!

    • BBILL April 29, 2020 (7:05 pm)

      Considering what’s below, including the estuary habitat for Chinook salmon, which are listed as “threatened,” the “controlled demolition” process will not be quick nor easy.

  • Solutions Oriented April 29, 2020 (10:26 am)

    I think a more applicable example is the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed in 2007 and a new bridge was designed, constructed and operational in 14-months. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-35W_Saint_Anthony_Falls_Bridge

    • Highlander April 29, 2020 (11:31 am)

      The I-35W bridge was designed to support light rail and cost $278million including an ahead of schedule bonus.

      • sw April 29, 2020 (2:30 pm)

        The I-35W bridge was a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SITUATION than the WS Bridge.  It is not a draw span, nor a high level bridge.  The engineering was a lot simpler.  Also, like the Genoa bridge, did not require demolition of the current structure.

  • Bender April 29, 2020 (11:20 am)

    Meanwhile maybe reroute traffic onto port property and have  temporarily bridges built over the waterways, just go around the problem? Then they can spend the next twenty years talking about it.

    • WSJ April 29, 2020 (11:50 am)

      You can keep suggesting this until you’re blue in the face, but it’s not an option. You can’t just relocate dozens of major industrial companies and block a waterway. Period.

  • Kitty A. April 29, 2020 (11:24 am)

    Speaking as someone with no bridge engineering expertise, I am curious why SDOT cannot establish a couple lanes of the otherwise-empty West Seattle bridge as safe (subject to daily inspection) for use by Metro express buses during weekday commute hours. Thanks to anyone who can explain why my idea isn’t a feasible option.

    • WSB April 29, 2020 (11:43 am)

      Because the bridge is still at risk of collapse even with NO traffic on it.

    • sw April 29, 2020 (2:40 pm)

      There are large cracks in the bridge that make it unsafe.  The cracking has continued since the bridge closed, with no traffic on it.  Buses are the heaviest things that are on our roads, and are the prime reason that many of our roads are falling apart due to their weight and how it is distributed.  Those hybrid buses are H E A V Y.

      • BBILL April 29, 2020 (10:12 pm)

        First you point out, correctly, that the bridge is reportedly cracking “with no traffic on it,” but then you suggest that buses “are the prime reason that many of our roads are falling apart.” Buses must follow the state weight law, but beyond that, I’d like to see the evidence, the proof that the *cause* of many roads falling apart is buses and not poor construction [=low quality, low cost].

    • Rumbles April 29, 2020 (2:47 pm)

      @Kitty A.  Did you seriously just ask that?  Have you not read any of the coverage of the bridge closure?

      • Hverfisgata April 29, 2020 (5:17 pm)

        No need to be rude, rumbles. Come on.

  • Stevie J April 29, 2020 (11:50 am)

    Of course you can build a new bridge quickly if gravity unexpectedly demolishes the old one for you first. Same goes for Minneapolis and Skagit River bridge collapses. This is a much more uncommon situation, and I am having trouble finding a comparable example of a major bridge being closed preemptively, especially such a high concrete one like the West Seattle Bridge. 

    If we tolled every road and every bridge by the weight of the vehicle, and used the tolls collected for required maintenance of that road/span, instead of dipping into general funds/state/federal dollars, I think this would be a more equitable way to pay for car infrastructure. Why shouldn’t drivers pay for what they use as they use it?

    Current taxation methods are inadequate and hidden – the sunk costs don’t make anyone consider or change their actions. The only friction is “traffic”. If bread were paid for with property taxes and you could take as much bread as you wanted at the store, there would never be enough bread, and the cost of providing the ever-increasing loaves of bread would quickly outpace the tax income meant to pay for the bread, and the government would have to charge non-bread eaters to pay for the greedy bread eaters. Just charge by the loaf already! 

    • Chris P April 29, 2020 (1:23 pm)

      Well said Stevie!

    • Michael April 29, 2020 (1:33 pm)

      Regressive tax structures are not equitable, they strongly favor the wealthy.  Your proposed axle tax would disproportionately affect people like self-employed workers that need pickups and medium trucks to do their work.  Meanwhile someone can make 6 figures and drive a smart car in to the office.The equitable solution is an income/wealth tax.  We all derive benefits from roads and buses and schools and police and fire and all the other services the city provides, even if we don’t use them directly.  You should pay based on the benefit you derive from the economy, not the part of it you use.

    • Rumbles April 29, 2020 (2:51 pm)

      @Stevie J.  Hey, do you not consider the gas tax a “pay as you use” tax?  If not, exactly what kind of tax would you consider it?  Generally, people don’t like tolls, that’s why they avoid toll roads.  And no, you can’t toll everything, thanks for asking.

      • Ice April 29, 2020 (4:36 pm)

        The gas tax is a complete joke and doesn’t come close to covering the cost of road maintenance, let alone the construction of new roads/bridges/whatever.

      • Stevie J April 29, 2020 (7:09 pm)

        The federal gas tax hasn’t changed in decades and even our local gas taxes are much lower than they should be to maintain the roads. With that in mind, once you fill up your tank it is a sunk cost. When I was a car owner (and made much less money than I do now) the cost of gas never crossed my mind because it’s so negligible. I would never worry about the cost of gas when taking a local trip. It might hurt to fill up when I was making $8/hr but after that every time I use the car it’s “free.” 

        Our gas tax (including federal) is $.63 per gallon. Assuming you drive the at the average Washingtonian rate (9000 miles/year) with a mediocre mileage of 20 mpg, that is 450 gallons, which brings in the total taxation (remember for some reason sales tax doesn’t apply to gasoline) to $284/year or $1.13 per weekday. Compare that to the “tax” incurred on bus passengers who pay $2.75 every time they step foot on the bus. Even adding on the “unfair” car tab of say $500/year and the driver is still paying less than the freeloading bus passenger, and you can fit a half dozen passengers into most cars! Charge drivers $3 every time they turn the keys and watch traffic disappear while the roads are maintained and transit is fully funded. 

        • BBILL April 29, 2020 (10:18 pm)

          Your cost accounting, the claim that the gas is “free” because the credit card bill hasn’t arrived yet, is very questionable.

        • 1994 April 29, 2020 (11:01 pm)

          “Compare that to the “tax” incurred on bus passengers who pay $2.75 every time they step foot on the bus.” But how much does that bus ride really cost? The $2.75 a rider pays is only part of the total cost per ride – the rest of the cost is subsidized by tax dollars. The cost per boarding for Metro was $4.10 in 2005, compared to $2.50 among the country’s 15 largest transit agencies and $2.97, the national average. Metro’s cost per boarding is 38% above the national average. In 2007 it cost $3.64 per boarding to deliver service in the West (Seattle) subarea, $4.79 in the South subarea and $7.27 in the East subarea of King County. Muni League of King Co 2011 – Old news but probably the same or similar today. At the end of 2008, the systemwide cost per boarding was $3.70

  • dsa April 29, 2020 (1:26 pm)

    Has SDOT even got their expert outside consultants besides WSP signed up yet?

  • brly April 29, 2020 (2:00 pm)

    I know I’m dreaming, but it would be smart if we tear down the failing bridge and hybridize the building of the bridge planned for light rail  with the one for auto, trucks & buses, killing two birds with one stone so to speak. This would expedite delivery & lower costs for the transit plan, make complete sense, help regional traffic and appease those of us who aren’t getting any younger, plus make the decision makers look like real leaders.

    • dsa April 29, 2020 (2:49 pm)

      I think combining gets complicated because of the different incline/descend  grades that have to be met. Rail has to be more gradual which is why it is also  extra elevated in places.   And consider that LR is not ready to set final alignment.

  • Richard Head April 29, 2020 (2:09 pm)

    Anybody who thinks that could be accomplished in Seattle has been smoking way too much pot. It will take the city 10 years. I hope y’all like working from home.

  • idk April 29, 2020 (3:29 pm)

    FYI people, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. We have bigger fish to fry than dealing with a broken bridge, where more than half of us wouldn’t even need to use due to businesses closing and more workers working from home. 

    • Quiz April 29, 2020 (4:55 pm)

      @IDK, Please. You’re out of touch. That bridge was essential for this peninsula to be a viable place to call home for many, many people. Also I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression, “Walk and chew gum at the same time?”

    • AdmiralBridge April 29, 2020 (5:39 pm)

      Also have to consider the risk to timely access to medical facilities.  It’s not like we’re overburdened with excessive clinics and hospitals this side of the bridge.  Even in (or because of) a pandemic, this needs to be on equal footing.  Sorry, but it should have more attention than putting boards on Alki benches.

  • Diane Hintz April 29, 2020 (4:01 pm)

    What about diverting some of the construction funds ($545 million) that Trump is deferring from construction projects slated for Europe in order to build his wall?  Time for our legislators to jump in there and fight for federal funds.

  • AdmiralBridge April 29, 2020 (5:46 pm)

    Wondering why there is such rationalization or capitulation for the “Seattle Way” of doing things.  We keep pointing out different examples where there was a significant transportation disruption, and cite where governments got down to business and fixed things.  There’s then a vocal few that says, no, that’s “way different” and shouldn’t apply here.No, we’re not armchair engineers here; what we want is a government that realizes 86k people have just had their lives and livelihoods somewhere between inconvenienced and endangered, as well as a massive hit to their property values.  We are entitled to a government that is capable of – and empathetic to – the needs of the majority.  In this case, we have to get back to basics.  Bridges must be maintained.  Traffic must flow.  Property values and tax revenues need to remain high.  Right now – have we even gotten a meaningful update since that intramural softball game they called a town hall a couple of weeks ago?    The biggest frustration I have is the ridiculous proposition that we should prop it up just to see if we can fix it for ten years.  To me, that is a non-starter from an ROI perspective, and you might as well just start replacing it now and taking decisive mitigation steps that are realistic during Covid (e.g. no, the buses aren’t going to solve your problem) and get.on.with.it.  Demonstrating urgency and priority would go a long way to resolving most of our angst.

    • Quiz April 30, 2020 (10:52 am)


  • WestSJ April 29, 2020 (5:57 pm)

    “The causes of the collapse revealed shortcomings in maintenance.”  I look forward to seeing the results of a City/State investigation into why our West Seattle Bridge was allowed to decay over a period of 6 years to the point of collapse.

  • ScottO April 29, 2020 (6:02 pm)

    We don’t have to look to Italy for a successful bridge replacement on a short timeline.  Remember when the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis suffered a catastrophic failure and collapsed in the summer of 2007?  They had a new bridge designed, constructed, and installed in 13 months.  It is possible.

  • Tired of SDOT response April 29, 2020 (7:16 pm)

    I agree. If Italy and China can build new bridges in under a year, why can’t we. Yes, I’ll get comments about cheap labor and poor quality. I challenge those who wants to shoot everything down, to come up with a better solution. Some of the most innovative bridges built in the last decade have been in developing countries. So, as a world class city, we can do the same, if not better. Just have Inslee declare a state of emergency. Have the state take over and assign a task force to evaluate and build a new bridge north or south of the current bridge. Let’s get West Seattle reconnect to the city we love. This should be a partnership between the city, state and businesses that rely on the bridge. We can’t sit back and allow SDOT and the city use their standard timeline and process. We need a sense of urgency and creative solutions that is willing to work items in parallel vs. in a linear fashion. 

  • dsa April 29, 2020 (10:20 pm)

    Tired of SDOT Response, I like most of your thinking.  I think Durkan needs to call it an emergency first, followed up by Inslee.  Maybe the council could kick it off first if Durkan is unwilling to get the ball rolling.  It does not take any imagination to conjure up what could happen in a good earthquake sitting there as it is.  It is a disaster waiting to happen.  This is an emergency.

  • Jim April 30, 2020 (1:25 am)

    It takes so long to do things because everyone has to figure out how the influencers can milk the project for money. Maximum efficiency would allow for an expedited and quality bridge at a fair price, but that doesn’t happen in USA because it’s about greed. Always.

  • Please don't blame me April 30, 2020 (10:23 pm)

    My first job in Seattle was on the high level engineering design team.  So, while I have some factual insights, I also will speculate here. First, a bit of history.   June 11, 1978, a large ship struck and rendered inoperable one of the 2 steel drawbridges that were built in the 1930s. Each bridge had 2 lanes. The stricken bridge was stuck in the upright position reducing the remaining bridge to one lane in each direction.    The City administered the replacement project on a priority vasis with supporting state (and I believe Federal) funding.  There were 3 participating entries in the design competition.  1 steel and 2 concrete designs were submitted.   The winning design was a record setting continuous pour twin arch box beam bridge.  It was remarkable in that it was the most massive for this type, and regarded as economical, durable and aesthetically pleasing.      The center span rests on two giant concrete columns, which in turn, rest on massive concrete pier  blocks, supported on approximately 160 piles each, extending 90 feet down thru mud to bedrock. The surrounding subsoils are pressure grouted to displace mud and add strength.     The span is significant, several hundred feet, and was constructed with 2 slipforms per column to create approximatelt 20 sections. 2 sections were simultaneous poured to create a balanced T on top of each column.  They met in the middle, where there was a slight 1″ adjustment to provide connection. Post tensioning cables pre stressing elements are included, but I’m fuzzy on those details.  The deck height of 165 feet provides ample clearance for the major Duwamish waterway for large ship traffic to supper multiple upstream industrial operations.  The main span sits upon banks of large coils of spring steel to accommodate seismic reactions.Those, in turn rest on lateral movement resistance plates.    The project also involved significant surface level reconstruction to a) facilitate construction detours and b) establish final traffic infrastructure for the bridge and underpass areas.     Additionally, substantial Right of Way property aquisition, negotiation, eminent domain and settlement were involved for the new alignment corridor, so that the existing bridge could continue to function.    It’s important to note here that to create the design, future population growth statistics was gathered from the PSCOG, Puget Sound Council of Governments, and those stats were used to project traffic volumes, truck traffic volumes, and loading frequency.  Every brige suffers small amounts of bouncing ossilations as vehicles travel over it and each oscillation slightly weakens the structure.  I suspect that west Seattle’s growth and trsffic explosion over the last 35 years has far exceeded the design expectations.  Hence, the city announced the bridge only had 10 more years left, even if it were repaired.   Later, phase II brought us the low level bridge, which I also worked on, a record setting concrete arch swing bascule design, but less I digress.    Now, for the speculation.Having observed firsthand the cracks, it appears the bottom face rebar grid was placed too close to the surface.  Normally, the rebar is placed in “chairs” to elevate the rear and provide about 3 inches of concrete, in order to help utilize the concrete compressive strength and to isolate the steel rear from corrosive elements. This could have been cased by the chairs collapsing during the pour operation.  It would have also meant the quality control inspectors missed the error.   The grid cracks then radiate outward in somewhat symmetrical patterns, ultimately extending from the failed pour section approximately midspan, to its adjacent sections, implying a structural failure. Consequently, the bridge is attempting to flatten it’s arch and thereby stressing the column connection lateral plates.By the way, does anybody else see a Seahawks logo in the pattern?   So, the bridge is vulnerable to things like seismic events and possibly even wind loads, and pending conclusive studies, the city did the correct thing and a)closed the high level bridge and b) closed the low level bridge to all but essential traffic just in case, because of a better safe than sorry public concern.    The hi level bridge opened on Basile Day, July 14th, 1984.  That was slightly over 6 years after the original bridge was disabled. It cost around $180 Million (in 1984 dollars). But, as I’ve noted, the original project included significantly more work than just the main span.  I have to assume this newly proposed reconstruction project could be completed in much less than 6 years.  But given the complexities, given that the bridge is already beyond its design lifespan, I believe a replacement main span is more likely, and will take between 2 to 4 years to complete.  That would be without “Seattle Politics” getting involved in terms of ballot initiatives, recalls, or lawsuits, which could otherwise take forever (a.k.a Monorail).    Finally, I believe the replacement effort should look hard at accelerating the Light Link rail connecting on an independent basis, on a separate low level drawbridge,  to alleviate what we know will be years of hardship for west seattlites.     And in the meantime, be patient on the road with you fellow citizens.  We’re all in this together.   

  • Maria May 4, 2020 (12:57 pm)

    Why are people saying that the Genoa bridge didn’t need to be demolished?  Only part of it fell. The larger part of it needed to be demolished.  https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2019/06/28/italy-genoa-morandi-bridge-controlled-demolition-explosion-lon-orig-ge.cnn

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