10:27 AM: Just published on the city website this morning – a solicitation for potential bidders to design a replacement in case the city determines the West Seattle Bridge can’t be fixed. The solicitation suggests the design could cost $50 million to $150 million and could be a 10-year project. From the solicitation:
CITY OF SEATTLE
REQUEST FOR STATEMENT OF QUALIFICATIONS
Project: SDOT 20-018 West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Replacement Design
The City of Seattle, through Seattle Department of Transportation, requests Statements of Qualifications (SOQ) from qualified engineering firms for SDOT 20-018 West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Replacement Design .
This contract is estimated to be approximately $50 Million to $150 Million. This is anticipated to be a multi-year phased contract, for approximately ten years, as needed to deliver a partial or full replacement of the bridge. More detail to the schedule will be developed during the course of 2020 as scope direction is confirmed and, in an attempt, to accelerate the design and construction to the greatest extent practicable. It is anticipated that this contract will receive federal funds and therefore will proceed under this assumption.
On March 23, 2020, the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge was closed to vehicle traffic. This bridge is the City’s top arterial by volume, typically carrying an average of over 100,000 cars, trucks and buses every week. The bridge’s deterioration at an accelerated rate required a full closure for the safety of all users. Since that time, SDOT has continued to inspect and monitor the structure. There is a currently a design and construction team under contract working on the necessary steps to stabilize the structure and reduce the risk of failure. Next steps are to separately investigate a repair to the bridge for opening to traffic and to develop a replacement design. This solicitation is to obtain a comprehensive engineering team(s) to design a replacement of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge. Core functions include: Alternatives/Analysis/Planning, Structural Bridge, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Architecture, Marine Design, Environmental and Permitting including Army Corps of Engineer and Tribes, Right-of-Way services, Survey, Planning and Traffic Analysis, Geotechnical Engineering, Project Management, Communications, Grant Writing Services, Construction Phasing, Constructability and Real Property Services. This work will require extensive coordination and coordination with stakeholders, partners (such as the Sound Transit and the Port), and elected officials, including a project specific Technical Advisory Panel, and other consultants and contractors.
An online Pre-submittal meeting is planned for Tuesday, June 9th at 1:00 p.m. Additional meeting details to follow.
The solicitation sets the deadline for “statements of qualifications” to be received by the city by June 30th. SDOT tells us they’ll have more to say about this soon.
10:44 AM: SDOT’s reply to our request for comment: “While we are making rapid progress on our efforts to stabilize and repair the bridge – an initial set of actions we must take no matter what, to preserve public safety – we need to have all pieces in place to quickly pivot if it becomes clear that fixing the bridge is no longer an option due to continued deterioration.” So today’s posting is “the start of our search for a team to design a potential replacement bridge while we simultaneously continue working towards a possible repair.”
11:25 AM: SDOT has now posted about this here. The post says in part:
… Eventually we will reach a critical decision point to repair or replace the bridge
We expect to complete our analysis on the structural stability of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge later this summer, thanks to all the systems put in place over the past few weeks and months to gather more information. This information is critical to understanding whether repairs to the bridge are still possible or if we must instead immediately pursue some method of replacement for the high-rise span of the West Seattle Bridge. … We will share more about upcoming decision points in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, planning for all trajectories simultaneously allows us to be nimble at every step of the way.
12:06 PM: The 10-year timeframe has grabbed the most attention, and SDOT offers this clarification: “The solicitation is not suggesting that it could take 10 years to replace the bridge. We just need to build in in flexibility since there is a scenario in which we repair the bridge to last up to a decade and then still need to design a replacement bridge in that timeframe.”
12:38 PM: We just talked by phone with Heather Marx from SDOT. Next thing to look for: She says that within a few days, they’ll release a timeline and a decision tree to explain what’s next, and within a few weeks they should have enough information from ongoing bridge monitoring to know whether the bridge is “strong enough to repair,” or whether they need to just move on to replacement planning.
Is the bridge still cracking? Yes, but still at a slower rate than before it was closed March 23rd.
Where would bridge-replacement money come from? They’ve been in discussions with the city budget office.
Other processes continue in parallel – traffic planning (within a few weeks they’ll be able to talk about low-bridge restriction changes), for example.
And as for various ways in which the bridge might be replaced – bridge with light rail, underwater tunnel, other suggestions – Marx says nothing’s been ruled out yet. (Regarding light rail, which is supposed to cross the Duwamish River on its own high-level bridge, SDOT has been asked to appear before a Sound Transit Board committee meeting later this week.)