WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: City starts process of seeking replacement designer; decision timeline expected soon

(WSB file photo)

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:


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.)

165 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: City starts process of seeking replacement designer; decision timeline expected soon"

  • Marc June 2, 2020 (10:30 am)

    10  YEARS? What the actual **** Seattle?

    • Also John June 2, 2020 (12:39 pm)

      Please read the entire article.

      • Marc June 2, 2020 (9:19 pm)

        Please look at the timestamp of my reply, and then look at the timestamp of the updates in the article

    • Mark June 2, 2020 (12:50 pm)

      Well the Seattle police are still fortunately guarding the empty lower bridge during commute hours.   More valuable than Nordstroms I guess…

      • WSB June 2, 2020 (1:32 pm)

        The Traffic Division, usual source of the enforcement, is generally not the source of the officers assigned to crowd control.

      • PotKettleBlack June 2, 2020 (5:11 pm)

        But Mark, how will Nordstrom collect their big insurance claim before they go bankrupt if the police stop people from breaking their windows?!

  • Railroaded June 2, 2020 (10:33 am)

    Don’t replace it. New light rail bridge and old low bridge for those Krazy Truckers.

    • heyalki June 2, 2020 (1:25 pm)

      And what about the 100,000 people that drive to and from work every day? Though some could make the switch, alternative transit options are not a viable solution for many of those people. 

      • Al June 2, 2020 (1:38 pm)

        A fraction can take transit and bicycles, another fraction can work from home, the rest will either have to quit their jobs or move away. The ultimate NIMBY success story!

        • Peter June 3, 2020 (6:19 pm)

          Maybe one of these engineering studies will find that some lateralexpansion joints are frozen and as a result the bridge is tearing itself apart. These joints are wedge shaped and the weight of the bridge deck pushes the wedge  together because  the pancake shaped support  disks are  squished. If one  installs hydraulic support disks to jack up the bridge deck, taller supports  can be installed  and the bridge  can float again. Just  my two cents  without  having access  to everything  

      • Eddie June 2, 2020 (4:24 pm)

        Thought it was interesting, or a typo, when it stated that “100,00 vehicles per WEEK”. I’ve always thought that I’d heard 100,000 per day.

  • Andy June 2, 2020 (10:36 am)

    10. Year. Project. LOL.

    • Frog June 2, 2020 (10:50 am)

      Seriously, dude, you stole my exact comment.

      • Meyer June 2, 2020 (3:30 pm)

        You guys must not have read the article. It won’t take 10 years to replace the bridge, the repair, if it can be repaired should last 10 years and then the replacement will come. If the bridge can’t be repaired it will be replaced and the timeline will be much shorter than 10 years. The last bridge was under construction for about 3 years.

        “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.”

    • Steve June 2, 2020 (8:26 pm)

      Again, please read the article.

  • montanapup June 2, 2020 (10:40 am)


  • Cami June 2, 2020 (10:45 am)

    Can we ask another city/state to take this over?  It only took 4 years to build the Golden Gate.  In the 30’s.  AND THAT IS HUGE.  

    • Mr J June 2, 2020 (11:16 am)

      Except in today’s dollars the Golden Gate Bridge would cost 1.5 billion. 

      • Bryan June 2, 2020 (12:39 pm)

        Your point?

        • WSJ June 2, 2020 (2:03 pm)

          That time = money and budgets exist, therefor the bridge will take a lot of time. 

        • Eric1 June 2, 2020 (2:25 pm)

          LOL.  The point is that the city doesn’t have the funding.  And everybody likes to say “This bridge was built in 4 years”  why can’t the City of Seattle do the same.  Yes the Golden Gate Bridge was physically built in 4 years.  But the plans were submitted 20 years before that.  They had to find the funding to build the bridge in the meantime.  It wasn’t like somebody said wow wouldn’t it be nice if there was a bridge here and 4 years later the Golden Gate Bridge was done.  We don’t even have a plan  to fix/replace the WS bridge in hand let alone the money so why do you think 10 years for a replacement is unreasonable?  People have to get to the 5th stage of grief and accept that WS traffic is going to suck for years… 5-10 years apparently.

  • Joe Z June 2, 2020 (10:45 am)

    That is a very low replacement cost (the much smaller Magnolia bridge was estimated at $400 million), I’m assuming that would only be to replace the center span and retain all existing ramps. Also assuming the 10-year timeline would include demolition which is probably more complicated than building the replacement. 

    • WSB June 2, 2020 (10:48 am)

      This is the DESIGN estimate only – not construction.

      • Duffy June 2, 2020 (11:40 am)

        Exactly. When all is said and done I don’t see how this will cost less than $1B. It might be more.

      • Elton June 2, 2020 (11:53 am)

        Can someone knowledgeable in this field help us understand why the consulting fees are so high here? That’s $5MM-$15MM a year. Even if each engineer’s salary is $300K/year with benefits that means 16-50 engineers a year. Am I just thinking of the costs entirely wrong here?

        • Under the Bridge June 2, 2020 (12:46 pm)

          You can never underestimate the amount that risk costs, and it doesn’t get much riskier than building a bridge. That said the design of a bridge is much more than just the structural component. And for a bridge in a location like this (over water, over functioning ports, over another functioning bridge, over buildings, etc) the list of people involved is exhaustive. Engineers of all manners (structural, civil, probably mechanical and electrical as well), architects, contractors, traffic consultants, biologists, project managers to coordinate with the local businesses impacted, Port, Navy and Duwamish tribes, city offices (SDCI, SDOT, SPD, SFD, SPU…) and because the city is most likely not equipped internally to deal with this (and it’s always good to have someone else to point a finger at), they’ll hire specialist consultants to manage the project internally. And you’ll note I used a lot of plurals. On large high-risk projects there are multiple peer reviews and backchecks done, functionally to make sure the design is the best it can be, and legally it provides a nice entangling web to dilute the risk should something go wrong.All that said, whenever I see a budget that is expressed in multiples of itself, what it tells me is they have no real idea but don’t want to be in a situation later where they get called out for massively under-estimating the mark, thus the massive range.

          • heyalki June 2, 2020 (1:37 pm)

            Not to mention got to add dollars for “COVID impact contingency” The mechanical contractor I work for is currently adding about 10% on the top of projects to account for added PPE and project schedules being extended due to social distancing laws etc…                

          • 35this35mph June 2, 2020 (3:02 pm)

            So if they charge so much at the front end to dilute the risk (we pay for their safety net) who is liable now for the current, prematurely failed, bridge?  

          • AdmiralBridge June 2, 2020 (3:15 pm)

            most likely????

        • poultine June 2, 2020 (1:27 pm)

          I’m not a civil engineer, but… I imagine you’re talking about a team of people across numerous disciplines, from understanding the soil around the Duwamish, the logistics of getting the necessary equipment, working around traffic impact during construction, environmental impact, etc., before you even get to the actual bridge itself (which likely involves people with various different specialties). Plus the overhead to coordinate all of those people, review their work to make sure they’re aligned, present reports, talk to the local community and politicians, etc.  A team of 20+ people doesn’t sound crazy at all.

          I work on engineering projects that span years, and I’d be out of my depth quickly when working on something of that scale.

          • sam-c June 2, 2020 (1:59 pm)

            Poultine covered a good bit of it.  Plus, the review/ permitting process for projects (like this huge project) adjacent to the water are much more complicated than it would be otherwise.  And as Poultine mentioned- it’s not just the designers and engineers, but people on the team who are engaging and involving the community.

          • Frank Farina June 5, 2020 (5:17 pm)

            My #1 concern is I need the bridge to look classy. I won’t even use it otherwise.  We don’t need ugly infrastructure like they have in Bellevue.

        • Zeist June 2, 2020 (1:32 pm)

          You have to remember an engineer making 60 or 70 an hour is going to be billed at 150- 200 an hour. You are also going to need structural engineers, transportation, geotechnical, surveyors and maybe even water resources involved. 

        • tsurly June 2, 2020 (1:39 pm)

          There is way more to the scope of work than just designing the bridge, including permitting, traffic analysis, construction phase planning and so on. This will likely require a large internal team, plus several subcontractors.

        • Kevin June 2, 2020 (5:38 pm)

          I think the current scenario is sufficient justification for why going cheap on engineering is a bad idea.

      • Joe Z June 2, 2020 (12:21 pm)

        @WSB thanks for the clarification. 

  • anon June 2, 2020 (10:50 am)

    It’s incredible how badly run the City of Seattle is in pretty much every aspect.

    • DRC June 2, 2020 (11:14 am)

        You are right.

  • Edmonds Slope June 2, 2020 (10:51 am)

    10 YEARS! 

  • Drew June 2, 2020 (10:56 am)

    Why are people surprised by 10 years?  Shoring / demolition / design / funding / construction — sounds sadly realistic to me. This is why we really should hope the existing bridge is repairable. Life in WS is going to be very different for a long time. 

    • JeffK June 2, 2020 (12:23 pm)

      The I-5 Interstate Bridge was built in less than 2 years – twice!  (Finished in 1917 and 1958 as separate bridges, now north and south bridges.)The I-205 WA-OR bridge was built in 5 years.Hoover Dam was built in 5 years.The entirety of WW2 was fought in less than 6 years.

      • Al June 2, 2020 (3:09 pm)

        Yes, and luckily, using modern computer design, and major advances in materials technology, construction equipment and  manufacturing techniques, we have been able to reduce that timeline down from 2 years  back in the dark ages, to  only 10 years now. The chocolate ration is being increased!

      • sgs June 2, 2020 (4:28 pm)

        Excellent points – really!  Hoover Dam!!!!   

        • Jean June 3, 2020 (3:31 pm)

           I looked up the Hoover Dam, and it actually took about 5 years to build the dam, not 2

  • Edmonds Slope June 2, 2020 (10:59 am)

    10 years!

  • old timer June 2, 2020 (11:01 am)

    I  hope that they at least consider combining the light rail and dedicated bus lanes with the roadway when they do this design process.  A combine with light rail might open funding possibilities as well.

  • Seattle South June 2, 2020 (11:03 am)

    Why no estimate for the tunnel idea that’s floating around. Way less than 10 years.The last article I read about the tunnel thought indicated that, because the bridge is on a earthquake fault line, it needs to be super-duper earthquake proof (I believe they said a 2200 year event standard). This will make it incredibly expensive 

    • My two cents ... June 2, 2020 (12:38 pm)

      @ seattle south – Tunnel solutions also have to address how the traffic will tie into the existing, elevated approaches on both ends. There really isn’t a turn-key approach that will work with the existing layout (grade standards for approaches)  and utilization (commercial traffic on Spokane Street) – more factors that will drive the costs up. 

  • Krs June 2, 2020 (11:04 am)

    Ten years? That is a joke, right? Why does it take so long to get a half-mile bridge built where one already exists? The golden gate took 4 years to build in the ‘30s. Eight years for the Sydney harbour Bridge which is one of the longest bridges in the world. We need people better at their jobs to lead this project. 

  • raybro June 2, 2020 (11:08 am)

    10 years!  Slugs move faster than that.

  • wsguy June 2, 2020 (11:09 am)

    Straw. Camels back.

  • sw June 2, 2020 (11:12 am)

    Oh, I’m going to need some popcorn for this thread.

    • Rumbles June 2, 2020 (11:30 am)

      LOL!  Me too!

  • Ed June 2, 2020 (11:17 am)

    Has there bee a formal vote of “No” for a tunnel rather than another bridge?

    • WSB June 2, 2020 (11:59 am)

      There hasn’t been a vote on anything.

  • Jort June 2, 2020 (11:18 am)

    Interesting. JUST the design of this bridge will account for between 7 to 21 percent  of the city’s annual transportation budget ($726 million). Not the construction. JUST the designing! Good luck, fellow West Seattle citizens! You better start getting used to the bus and a bike, because there will not be a magical solution for you and your car for the next 10 years. You will be stuck in a hellscape traffic dystopia and you can scream at the top of your lungs and hold angry community meetings and write furious armchair engineering solutions, and it will do literally nothing to fix this because the congestion of your car commute is fundamentally NOT a fixable issue. Our roads hold x amount of cars, and we just went (x + 100,000). You can get as angry as you want at me, the city, Lisa “Herbad,” Scott Kubly, bike lanes, SDOT, the state, whatever, but none of that will change the flat and unchangable, unyielding fact that nobody will be commuting in their car like they used to for many, many years. Get on a bike, or get on the bus, and begin your personal mental adaptations now. It will save you lots of anguish and you’ll be glad you did. 

    • Chemist June 2, 2020 (12:19 pm)

      … and how many additional buses has SDOT procured for West Seattle to meet that “get on a bus” coping suggestion?

      • KM June 2, 2020 (9:56 pm)

        Zero, and will be zero…SDOT doesn’t manage transit.

        • Chemist June 2, 2020 (11:28 pm)

          I will keep that in mind if Seattle asks us to vote on a transportation benefit district to give sdot money for bus service.  Lies.  🙄

    • JDLR June 2, 2020 (12:20 pm)

      Hear, hear! 

    • AdmiralBridge June 2, 2020 (3:21 pm)

      Glad to see a retiree be so vocal.  Until Covid is solved, dense mass transportation is also not a feasible option.  I would prefer to hold our government accountable to fix this problem, even if it means a moonshot and I refuse to be browbeaten by urbanists who want us to confirm to their way of thinking.  It is a health and commerce issue as much as it is commute issue (probably more) and if someone is of enough good fortune to not need to use a car, there are 70-80k others here who think differently.

      • Jon Wright June 2, 2020 (9:05 pm)

        A really good way to avoid urbanists is to not live in an urban area.

      • KM June 2, 2020 (9:59 pm)

        Yikes. “Good fortune” is completely ignoring those who cannot drive due to age, finances, disability, etc. Let’s not do that.

    • Deborah Clouse June 2, 2020 (3:35 pm)

      Just take the water taxi….West Seattle is a wonderful place to live.

  • West Seattle Hipster June 2, 2020 (11:28 am)

    My estimate of 5 years was way off.

  • Doh June 2, 2020 (11:28 am)

    It does say “Could” take 10 years.  I hope they place clear to I5. These patch work a few years ago was a joke,  even worse now. 

  • Jonah June 2, 2020 (11:33 am)

    WSB. If temp. repair possible is the city studying the feasibility of building a new bridge next to the existing one. Would make a shorter full closure to tie in.  

  • bill June 2, 2020 (11:33 am)

    More foot-stamping from the folks who have never done anything significant themselves. Fun fact: 11 construction workers died building the Golden Gate Bridge. I hope the armchair engineers here will accept a slower pace of construction to ensure safety. Second fun fact: The time span from authorization by the California Legislature to opening was TEN YEARS!`

    • Also John June 2, 2020 (12:44 pm)

      Thank you.  These people are driving me crazy.  I don’t believe any of these “10year” cry babies read the whole article.

      • JB June 2, 2020 (4:10 pm)

        Amen fellas…  we need more people on the “can” and “will” and “adapt” buses, and fewer on the  “internet-is-the-outlet-for-my-impotent-and-entitled-rage” bus.  SDOT is run by some wonderfully intelligent and hard working folks, that time and again do amazing work despite the inherent difficulties, and obscene lack of public respect and support.  Case in point: viaduct closure… After all the whining and hand ringing, the way they redirected traffic made the situation a non-event.  The tunnel: none of the dire predictions came to pass, and when there was a show stopping problem, the submerged pipe, which was the equivalent to an act of god, they handled it with aplomb.  To all the haters: have a little more respect, understanding, and gratitude.

    • Only 82 June 2, 2020 (4:19 pm)

      When I saw the number of comments (82), I was like “oh boy, 82 is a lot, must be an interesting conversation”. Now that I’m reading the same nonsense repeated 80 times, I’m thinking “thank goodness it’s only 82”.

  • Srsly June 2, 2020 (11:34 am)

    A multi-year phased project does not mean you won’t be able to drive on it for 10 years. They’re looking for designs. They won’t know how much each phase will take or even what the phases are yet. You think someone is just pulling a bridge design out of their back pocket? Come on. Hold your bitching for just a few minutes at least.

    • Also John June 2, 2020 (12:46 pm)

      Thank you!  I had no idea WS was full of whiny people.

    • beanie June 2, 2020 (1:56 pm)

      I think we all need to get a good whine-fest out when things like this come out. Eyeballs pop out, freak out a little, take a shot of whiskey, then read the content, get the details, acknowledge that yeah, something like this will take a while and be expensive and complicated. And then take another shot of whiskey.At least that’s my normal cycle of bridge-related reactions.

      • Rick June 3, 2020 (11:55 am)

        I like how you think. About the most constructive I’ve read so far.

  • Rr June 2, 2020 (11:37 am)

    We’ll either have flying cars by then or have a half built bridge rising from the ruins of a post apocalyptic Seattle metro area. 

    • Lagartija Nick June 2, 2020 (1:01 pm)

      “We’ll have flying cars in 5 years”, said every prognosticator since 1950! Hahahaha

  • Chris June 2, 2020 (11:46 am)

    Sorry to cross post from a competitor, but what about this design?  Sounds like the perfect fit, and definitely should not take 10 years!!!https://www.westsideseattle.com/robinson-papers/2020/04/24/op-ed-bridge-history-its-time-immersed-tube-tunnel

  • MG June 2, 2020 (11:47 am)

    I hope they choose a design that is not only functional  but beautiful.   Something like the Millau viaduct in France  (3 years to construct,  $394 million Euro),   Seri Wawasan bridge in Malaysia,  Juscelino Kubitschek bridge in Brazil (2 years to construct, $56.8 million,  includes pedestrian and bicycle access).     

    • Boop June 2, 2020 (12:05 pm)

      Interesting!  Maybe they could put a fishing spot at the top right over the Duwamish, that would be beautiful and functional!  So excited!

      • Also John June 2, 2020 (12:48 pm)

        I’m thinking a spot at the highest point where we can launch hanggliders and bunchie jump.

  • River Kwai June 2, 2020 (11:55 am)

    I have no bridge and I must scream.

  • WS Guy June 2, 2020 (12:00 pm)

    The project assumes federal funding.  And takes 10 years.  I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

    Keep in mind the old rule that any project will expand to take as much time as has been allowed for it.  So if you set a 10 year timeline you get a 10 year timeline (at least).

  • Barry McCockiner June 2, 2020 (12:02 pm)

    City STARTS process?!?!?! What the hell have they been doing this whole time we have been stuck at home? Literally couldn’t have been better timing for them to get a jump on this to minimize the effects to traffic once things normalize. Such incompetence its unbelievable. 

    • Elton June 2, 2020 (1:18 pm)

      If you think this is slow then you’re clearly new to how local government works (not just in Seattle, but most places for an infrastructure project of this scale). They’ve actually been moving relatively fast in terms of getting this request out there and working on monitoring improvements and contracting with someone for shoring. If you think they’re going to be able to minimize the effects of this within a year with an engineering firm, you’re delusional. New bridges are not going to magically appear by the time most folks are back to work. Aside from more buses, light timing adjustments, maybe reducing low bridge openings, and perhaps increased water taxi frequency there is only so much they can do to “minimize” the effects. It’s the busiest bridge in the region, be real.

    • BBILL June 2, 2020 (1:27 pm)

      Starts DESIGN OF REPLACEMENT process.

    • kj June 2, 2020 (7:21 pm)

      exactly what I was wondering.

  • WSB June 2, 2020 (12:06 pm)

    Further clarification from SDOT re: the 10-year timeframe: “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.”

    • WS Guy June 2, 2020 (12:32 pm)

      Ah, that makes sense actually.  Temporary repair to re-open and then full replacement in tandem with ST3 timeline.

    • joker June 2, 2020 (12:33 pm)

      SDOT needs to start understanding the impact of their mismanagement of this bridge. They need to be extremely clear with things like timeline estimates. Throwing a 10 year timeline out there reverberates through a community that is looking for answers. SDOT is a complete joke. 

    • Under the Bridge June 2, 2020 (12:52 pm)

      I found this clarification interesting and really hope this is the option that happens. Realistically a fix will still take a year at least, but even a 8-9 year patch would give them enough time to implement changes to the other routes in/out of West Seattle to help alleviate the nightmare that will be commuting in/out of west seattle for quite some time.

  • Todd June 2, 2020 (12:12 pm)


  • John Staczek, Vashon June 2, 2020 (12:23 pm)

    Outrageous consulting fees and overall costs. Is this a stairway to heaven? Get real, DOT. Fix it first. You already wasted three months. Look around for great alternatives. It’s engineering, not diamond mining.

    • beanie June 2, 2020 (2:59 pm)

      This makes me laugh since engineering a bridge is used pretty interchangeably with rocket science and brain surgery metaphors. Any time I’m trying to get my engineers to simplify their approach, I say “we’re not designing a bridge, we’re just [insert anything easier].”Also, how many times have people said “forget about fixing it, just tear it down and build a new one.” We can’t have fast AND cheap AND high quality.

    • tsurly June 2, 2020 (3:22 pm)

      Try actually reading the entire scope, its far more that just bridge design. On another note, some of my buddies from grad school who are mining engineers are, you guessed it, mine diamonds!

  • mark47n June 2, 2020 (12:27 pm)

    It appears that no one has actually read this post or considered any other aspects of this project to include the fact that there is still a bridge there.

    • Kram June 2, 2020 (4:37 pm)

      Haha, yes! Half of WSB editors comments in many posts seem to be reiterating what is already in the article. People just headline read and get upset. I’m pretty sure this is a much bigger problem in general as people also consume their national ‘news’ in this way.

  • Smittytheclown June 2, 2020 (12:28 pm)

     Multi- tasking in case repair is not an option.  Good for them.  The 10-year mention is just a scare tactic so that when it “only” takes 5 we are relieved!  Smart. 

  • Alki resident June 2, 2020 (12:28 pm)

    Lol ten years 🤣, I called it. What a joke

  • Peter June 2, 2020 (12:32 pm)

    I’m assuming all the armchair engineers in these comments who are outraged by the ten years will be submitting their bids explaining how they’d do it quicker. 

  • Chris K June 2, 2020 (12:36 pm)

    zomg where are the cranes??!!

  • What about... June 2, 2020 (12:44 pm)

    Not an engineer or anything technical here by any means… but wondering if modifying the ferry terminals would be shorter while the bridge (or tunnel) is being dealt with.  I know Colman is already in the midst of its upgrade, but would modifying that be quicker to allow for another ferry (for say, direct from Southworth/Vashon/Fauntleroy)?  Modifying Water taxi area off Harbor to include a car ramp for a smaller car ferry?  Not sure what except alter schedule for Fauntleroy dock, and have more Vashon/Southworth traffic go directly to downtown (and keep some on schedule for V/S to  Fauntleroy for those who don’t go downtown), and perhaps a Fauntleroy passenger only and/or car ferry to downtown.  Just pie-in-the-sky ideas for a mid term solution (and I know ferries have been brought up before, but the issue has been existing terminal sizes).  I don’t really have much more to say on this, so anyone trying to debate me is not going to get an answer, but perhaps others more in the know might be able to say if this is realistic and plausible for consideration of further discussion by those with knowledge in this area.  Also, bikes and buses are in other discussions.  Some of us cannot do either because of distance, need to transport more than can fit on a bike or a bus, and schedules.  Thank you.

    • WSB June 2, 2020 (1:38 pm)

      The WSF people spoke to the WS Transportation Coalition last week and pretty much threw cold water on a variety of suggestions. That story would be done by now if not for this one and a lot of texts and calls we’ve been answering on an unrelated matter.

    • Rob June 2, 2020 (5:17 pm)

      If you’ve ever been to Jack Block park along the waterfront you may have noticed an old railroad dock with a barge sitting there. It seems to me you could convert that to a full ferry terminal pretty easily. Lots of potential parking on industrial areas nearby.

      • Wsgal June 2, 2020 (7:46 pm)

        It’s too shallow

  • Also John June 2, 2020 (12:58 pm)

    Did anyone complaining about the 10 years read the entire article?      In a nutshell….  The engineering firm will be directed to prepare contract construction documents for a temporary design to reopen the bridge ASAP.     This will be a structural repair…..if possible.       Following that design the engineering firm will prepare a bid set of contract documents for the removal and replacement of the existing bridge.  

  • Christine June 2, 2020 (12:58 pm)

    10 years is shocking – even for Seattle, a dysfunctional city when it comes to infrastructure improvements.  The further “clarification” from SDOT just makes it worse. 

    • Deborah Clouse June 2, 2020 (3:39 pm)

      Look who Seattle votes for. Find and support the candidates that can best serve you. Get involved.

  • Gina June 2, 2020 (1:06 pm)

    Or build a high rise bridge to replace Michigan St bridge. Where is the highest density of population in SW Seattle?

  • bfly June 2, 2020 (1:10 pm)

    Oregon is starting to sound nice…

  • KT June 2, 2020 (1:14 pm)

    Truly a shame that SDOT did absolutely no worst case scenario planning during the last seven years since the deterioration of the bridge was first documented.  I also would find their bridge updates a lot more credible if they would stop the Trumpian congratulating of themselves and city leaders for what they have done .  

  • wetone June 2, 2020 (1:15 pm)

    Remember once work starts on high-rise the low swing bridge will be closed to All Traffic much of the time. That’s if it last that long as condition of swing bridge is fair at best. Heavy truck traffic and soon buses that are over their GVWR when fully loaded will have huge impacts on swing bridge and surface streets. T-5 project was pushed through with city knowing bridge issues and still allowed Port to move ahead with project. Something really stinks with what’s going on with-in Seattle government……….

    • skeeter June 2, 2020 (1:45 pm)

      WETONE – are you sure the low swing bridge will be closed to all traffic during construction?  Or are you just guessing?  I rely on bikes and busses to get to my job and I bet about 50,000 others do too.  If the low swing bridge is unusable it means a bus commute to downtown goes from 30 minutes to probably 2.5 or 3 hours each way.  

      • WSB June 2, 2020 (1:56 pm)

        No, that is NOT true. There of course could be impacts but they don’t even have a design yet.

      • wetone June 2, 2020 (5:13 pm)

        skeeter, yes in certain phases of the work on high-rise the lower bridge will have to be closed. That’s what we have been told, such as  demo work, retrofitting and/or new construction times when needed.

    • tsurly June 2, 2020 (3:29 pm)

      This engineer calls total BS on that.

    • K June 2, 2020 (11:54 pm)

      There is so much empty space at the terminals and docks North of the bridge. Why can’t the marinas on the Duamish be relocated there, and build a lower bridge. What IS upstream that requires such a high bridge, anyway?

  • Js June 2, 2020 (1:20 pm)

    10 Years!!!!!!! Holy S. Ill be dead. Why do they need 10yrs? Please. Anyone want to protest? And get our message heard?Pro people but anti Sdot or king.dot or wadot. Ugh

  • Mj June 2, 2020 (1:20 pm)

    Jort what bus are you alluding too, many areas of WS do not have adequate bus service!   Obviously this is the mitigation that needs to be made, and to date where is the plan?  The City failed to maintain the bridge and now needs to provide resources for significant added bus service.  

    And Jort the City has spent hundreds of millions on other items since 2014, if the City had only spent a portion of this on maintenance maybe this fiasco could have been avoided.

    • Chemist June 2, 2020 (2:02 pm)

      Seattle needs to defund the shopping shuttle/First Avenue Trolley/City Center Connector/C3/whatever they’ve rebranded this fiasco to.

    • AMD June 2, 2020 (4:50 pm)

      It’s funny that so many people in these threads are like “we can’t take the bus, there isn’t enough capacity and it’s an insurmountable problem!” but no one is ever like “we cant keep driving like we used to, there isn’t enough road capacity!”  Instead they immediately throw out the first three solutions that come to mind to increase capacity of the roads.  (Granted almost all of those solutions are short-sighted and demonstrate a complete lack of understanding on how traffic works, but that’s not the point).  What if–humor me for a second here–what if we devoted AS MUCH energy to solving the “there is no bus in my neighborhood” problem as aggressively as people are working to solve the “road diet on 35th angers me and I’m in a hurry to get to the bottleneck on the 1st Avenue Bridge” problem.

      • Jort June 2, 2020 (8:34 pm)

        Simple facts, these are not debatable opinions: the remaining roads of West Seattle handled x cars prior to the bridge closure. They are fundamentally incapable of handling x +100,000 cars. There is no engineering fix on this planet that will fix this, period. When people are angry, they are angry at geometry, math and physics. There are transportation solutions that don’t involve violating the fundamental laws of geometry, but they have other barriers: political courage and cost. Do you want to scream at the top of your lungs for five years about the literally 100 percent-unfixable traffic congestion, or do you want to start pushing the city to get you a bus to your neighborhood and a free e-bike? Because one of those can actually be done, and the other can’t. The sooner people in West Seattle realize that there is literally no possible solution, flat-out, period, end-of-story to their car commute congestion, the better. Start pushing for mitigations that have are based in reality, and stop dreaming for a special car-driver-feelings exception in the fundamental laws of science. Begin your personal mental adaptations now.

        • K June 2, 2020 (11:57 pm)

          There are lots of bridges in the world that are not falling down after 35 years.  There are solutions, we just need to get going on it.

        • Chemist June 3, 2020 (1:33 am)

          I would have settled for $5 per month Jump ebike but alas…   I guess the city will give me a free one now?

        • My two cents ... June 3, 2020 (2:35 pm)

          Jort- are you advocating not repairing or replacing (pending engineering analysis) the bridge at all?

  • Alki Heights June 2, 2020 (1:21 pm)

    Again, Everybody keeps saying that if the bridge can be fixed, It will only last 10 YEARS.Lets see the facts on this 10 figure!

  • dsa June 2, 2020 (1:49 pm)

    Triple shift it.

  • TM7302 June 2, 2020 (2:21 pm)

    The Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart Florida, completed in 1997 was built in 3 years and spans the St. Lucie River 1.3 miles with six lanes,  65 ft above the channel.  Cost: $83.7 million.

  • DA June 2, 2020 (2:28 pm)

    We Seniors need access to our hospitals and the VA – there are no trains, no buses with direct routes – We just want to drive across the bridge to appointment without having to make several transfers and spending a full day getting there and back.  10yrs is too long – I am sure they will toll us but We pay for our roads, we pay huge amounts of property taxes,  car taxes.  this City is not fair to an older generation when all their money goes into a bike lane I’ve seen 2 people use.  We are still paying taxes this city is spending on things that are not giving us access but taking it away every day. 10yrs is not acceptable.

    • Rick June 3, 2020 (12:13 pm)

      I’m going to take a trial run or two to plot my course to the VA myself. At least since my business is shut down I have the time.

  • ScubaFrog June 2, 2020 (2:39 pm)

    Again, they’re focusing on a repair.  And, if a repair isn’t feasible (they’ll know sometime this summer), “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.” – WSB.  I’m excited to know if it can be fixed, or if it needs to be replaced.  And remember, the 10 year time frame is “flexible” :)    

  • Um, No! June 2, 2020 (3:08 pm)

    Holy crap people, read the article!  Nobody is saying it will be 10 years before we can use the repaired bridge or a new one again.  10 Years is the time frame on the replacement bridge process  that will take place during and after the current bridge is repaired for traffic.   Both can proceed at the same time.  

  • P June 2, 2020 (3:10 pm)

    I wonder if they could add to SB 99 / from NB 99 access from the WS side of the bridge. That would be a nice improvement for getting to the airport or anything in that part of the city!

  • Margot June 2, 2020 (3:56 pm)

    Does the City of Seattle have sufficient buses to accommodate 100K additional passengers?  Would our current bicycle routes be able to accommodate an additional, oh, 20K people riding?  The bus and bike solution doesn’t sound any more practical than anything else.

  • bolo June 2, 2020 (4:28 pm)

    “This bridge is the City’s top arterial by volume, typically carrying an average of over 100,000 cars, trucks and buses every week.”

    That’s gotta be a typo, right? Seems ridiculously low. Well, SDOT are the ones who should know.

    • WSB June 2, 2020 (5:56 pm)

      It’s been “a day” as long as I can remember so I’m fairly certain that was a typo.

  • GWG June 2, 2020 (4:53 pm)

    Just tear the damn thing down. Replace it with a cable stay bridge,like Tacoma Narrows and Golden Gate. Do some work instead of pricey studies! Remember being taxed for Monorail project,my motorcycle tabs were $400.00 for a couple years,then the City decided not to do it,yet many millions were spent on consultants and studies and when it was scrapped NOBODY got a penny back. Hoping this doesn’t happen again. Action not studies!

    • Rumbles June 2, 2020 (10:12 pm)

      A cable stay bridge is very unlikely.  Boeing field is just a few miles south.  

    • bill June 2, 2020 (10:16 pm)

      @GWG: The VOTERS decided to cancel the monorail after it became clear the VOTER APPROVED  commission managing the project was a clown show.

  • Rick June 2, 2020 (6:12 pm)

    Well,see the problem is we need some more six figure salaries for certain folks. 

  • AngrySecE June 2, 2020 (6:13 pm)

    Most people are freaked because of their commutes.  I think they should take over terminal 5 as an emergency ferry terminal, shuttle terminal, water taxi dock and parking lot.  It’s a giant space that could easily absorb a sizeable number of cars and most drivers are already heading that general direction.  It’s been sitting mostly unused for a few years, what’s a few more?  Not like they are gonna get stuff out of that side of the port anyway.I’m fairly certain that employers have an idea of how many of their employees live in West Seattle.  We can figure this out.

  • Jimmy June 2, 2020 (7:05 pm)

    I just can’t wait until they name the bridge czar and who will be paid over 200K for their incompetence.  Sort of like the homeless czar!  

  • Weresident June 2, 2020 (7:52 pm)

    Bridges and tunnels built in NY and San Francisco  in the early 1900’s were built in RECORD time and still function perfectly. Why is everything I Seattle slow, half-assed and belabored. It’s maddening, with the taxes they receive, from property and also weed, that we can’t support our schools, infrastructure, homeless or anything that really helps us become a real grown up city. Where the fuck are our politicians? I’m liberal but all of this is so extremely ridiculous that an entire thoroughfare moving 100k people through our city, was JUST found to be unstable after YEARS of monitoring. Nothing was discussed and now there is no money. I want to so badly not pay my business or SE taxes this year because I’m not sure what the hell they are being used for. My young child could manage a budget better. 

    • Ken June 14, 2020 (8:51 pm)

      @ WERESIDENT: Very well said. This is exactly what I have been thinking/saying about Seattle for too many years now. I don’t know what happened to this once reasonably nice city.  It lost it’s way too long ago.  Other cities can do new construction and/or reconstruction in record time when it’s needed – not just here in the U.S., but around the World.  Why does Seattle find it necessary to be so special? So different?  So abnormal?  As you wrote: it absolutely is maddening.  There’s just no legitimate excuse for the continual nonsense that goes on around here.

  • birdrescuer June 2, 2020 (8:05 pm)


  • Steve June 2, 2020 (8:32 pm)

    Hey, how ’bout we have a proposition to extend the monorail out to West Seattle. Threat alone will  tie up a good ten years. Then Sawant can fight to  protect the encampments under the bridge for another ten.  Actually,  it’s good that the city it’s being so proactive. 

  • C HARDING June 2, 2020 (9:06 pm)

    Do I really have to say this to people who are not me? Calm the frack down, every last one of you, from citizen to engineers to elected officials. For fracks sake, get a life, get a grip and get a HOBBY. LIFE ISN’T ENDING… focus on that. A bridge repair/replacement will come when it comes, roll with the punches. Goodnight…. 

  • Rb June 2, 2020 (10:55 pm)

    The article quotes 100k cars trucks buses a week.

    I hope that is a typo and not what they are using for planning and scheduling strategy.  

    It was 100k a DAY. 
    Very different.


  • Shrikecorp June 2, 2020 (11:48 pm)

    Hint…to avoid a great deal of histrionics, next time lead with a summary of the possible timeframes based on options.

    • WSB June 3, 2020 (12:38 am)

      If you’re addressing me, the story was incremental. It led with the fact the city had posted this, and that was the news. As with many stories we cover, more info emerges in the minutes and hours after the first burst, and we continue updating. – TR

      • Shrikecorp June 3, 2020 (11:53 am)

        Fair enough.  My apologies.  Between the “10 YEARS” freaking out and the variations on “Why don’t we just not have a bridge?, I got cranky.

  • WS Citizen June 3, 2020 (7:10 am)

    Huge thanks to WSB for your timely clarifications — along with your calm, comprehensive and reasoned reporting in this frantic time across multiple fronts.  You are a community treasure.

  • Kate K June 3, 2020 (9:53 am)

    Fix the bridge now. And simultaneously start the tunnel. Have they asked for a bid for a tunnel or just a new bridge? Already made up their minds?

    • WSB June 3, 2020 (10:04 am)

      Heather Marx says “nothing’s been ruled out” so far.

  • Joe June 3, 2020 (5:20 pm)

    Thanks for the video, DRW. I know the Army Corp of Engineers could put up a bridge over a river like this literally in days. Although they are temporary and I’m sure they don’t meet the safety requirements to transport the general public. I don’t know why more people aren’t thinking of ideas outside the box like this. 10 years is absolutely unacceptable. Why don’t they start tunneling now? Cut out the bureaucracy and get moving! And in parallel start setting up some temporary floating bridges in the meantime. I want to see action; not committees and studies. 

    • WSB June 3, 2020 (5:26 pm)

      “People” ARE. That’s been suggested along with a zillion other ideas, dating back to the original announcement that the bridge might NOT be fixable. SDOT says it hasn’t ruled anything out but at some point if replacement is required, as Heather Marx said to me in our interview yesterday, a decision WILL be made.

  • Joe June 3, 2020 (7:39 pm)

    And just “when” will that decision be made?

  • trebor June 3, 2020 (8:30 pm)

    10 years is a long time. Thank goodness I recently took swimming lessons. I think I can swim across mon-fri. I have the weekends off!

  • Holley Smith June 14, 2020 (7:28 pm)

    There are several near term solutions. One would be to effect a temporary floating bridge using ocean going barges from West Seattle onto Harbor island. This could be accomplished in 30 days. Two, would be to stabilize the existing highrise with post tension cables externally mounted to the two columns carrying a temporary cribing under the failing main span girders. Tension could be adjusted by weighted anchors at ground level at the base of each column. This could be accomplished in 4 to 6 months. I am sure there are other achievable solutions short of replacement which is a minimum of five years.

Sorry, comment time is over.