WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Stabilization work about to start

(SDOT photo: Hydra-Lift Under-Bridge Inspection Platform that’ll be used in stabilization work)

Regardless of whether the city decides to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge, it has to be stabilized. SDOT just announced that contractor Kraemer North America will move this week from staging to stabilizing. The first phase of that work has to be done even before the stuck Pier 18 bearings can be tackled, SDOT says:

The first step of this stabilization work will be to construct and attach movable work platforms to the underside of the bridge so that crews can safely access the exterior of the bridge girders while they work on measures intended to slow cracking. In order to secure the hanging platforms, crews will use a precision hydro-demolition technique to excavate existing holes which held up platforms when the bridge was being built and were then filled with concrete decades ago. Crews will open up more than 100 of these holes, which will take a minimum of 2 weeks. Once the holes have been exposed, the work platforms can be hoisted up from a barge in the river below using roadway-mounted electric winches.

When the work platforms are secure, the team will be able to work from both the top and underside of the bridge, and move forward with the stabilization measures. The first stabilization measure will be to install carbon fiber wrapping around the bottom of the bridge in areas where strengthening is required and inside some of the girders most affected by cracking. The initial carbon fiber wrapping work will likely begin as soon as late July and take approximately 10 weeks to install.

Once the carbon fiber wrap is in place, we can begin installing steel tendons inside the bridge. When the steel strands are in place, we will begin to tighten them to achieve the required tension that will support the bridge and, along with the carbon fiber wrap, help slow cracking. Work to install and tighten the steel tendons will likely take one to two weeks to complete.

More details – and graphics – are in SDOT’s full update here.

P.S. Wondering how much all this will cost? City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s latest weekly newsletter includes this: “A memo received from the City Budget Office … notes ‘SDOT estimates 2020 costs for bridge repair to be $22.8 million. To help fund 2020 costs for emergency repair work, SDOT will take on additional debt supported by an interfund loan in 2020. More funding will be required in 2021 and 2022’.”

37 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Stabilization work about to start"

  • B.A.R June 29, 2020 (2:33 pm)

    More funding will be required in 2021 and 2022’.”yea wonder where that will come from…. SUPRISE working class taxes not Amazon

    • David June 29, 2020 (8:53 pm)

      1) Developers, Amazon, etc make “contributions” to Durkan, Inslee, et al.
      2) Durkan, Inslee, et al refuse to allow anyone to tax developers, Amazon, etc.
      3) “Oh no we don’t have enough money!”
      4) Cue more regressive taxes, tolls, tabs, etc that hit people with lower income much harder.
      If we could ever figure out a system whereby we could crowdfund bribing – excuse me, “contributing” – our politicians with it being conditional on taxing everyone equally, we’d almost certainly save >>10x in regressive taxes as much as we “contribute”.
      Or at least it stands to reason, considering that the benefit-bribe ratio has been closer to 100-1000x for developers, Amazon, etc.

      • Eh June 30, 2020 (8:46 am)

        The amount of hate people levy at Amazon amazes me. And why specifically Amazon? This region has always had a big business backbone. Amazon is the biggest, but why not direct your ire equally at Boeing, Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Weyerhauser, Expeditors, UW, Windermere, F5…yes most of these companies get takes breaks somehow, but that often is in reflection of money they spent into the region elsewhere. Charitable donations, development fees, transportation stipends for employees, etc. Yes these companies have gobs more money than all of us and would probably not hurt in the face of more, but if you want to talk direct responsibility for the issue at hand, go look at your representatives, go look at city planning and budgets, ask why failure of our infrastructure seems to be a repeated theme over the past 10+ years. A good question might be this: when the viaduct project was planned and implemented, severe traffic delays were a known issue. That means for hours each day the bridge was almost completely loaded with vehicles, for several years. Did someone check that the bridge could withstand this additional stress?

        • Mark47n June 30, 2020 (9:56 am)

          These businesses make tremendous use of infrastructure and arguably don’t pay a fair share. As to tax breaks, Boeing is famous for making such unreasonable demands that it’s jaw dropping when the municipality/state just say yes to the detriment of the region that the facility is located. I applaud NYC for telling Amazon to step off.Municipalities are also at fault. Once something is built virtually no resources are allocated to the maintenance and when it fails they often say that the responsible agency knew that there was an issue and then plead budget.Locally, though, King County is a victim of how tax funds are allocated. For instance, for every dollar that KC collects in taxes it receives, from the state, far less than that dollar as compared to Ferry CO, which receives as much as $3 for each dollar collected. KC receives, dollar for dollar, less money than any other county. In other words, KC is very busy subsidizing the rest of the state. Whle this is inevitable the lopsidedness is pretty unreal especially in light of how poor KC’s infrastructure is.  Ironically, the counties that benefit the most from the taxes collected in the liberal paradise that is KC are very, very Republican and would love to split off from their sugar daddy.But I digress. The taxes that are levied on you and I have to go up when the other users don’t pay their share. When Boeing demands that Seattle and KC give them hundreds of acres, build them a huge new facility AND maintain it, while Boeing own it, the system is upside down. Amazon made cities beg them to move there for HQ2 by way of promising outrageous tax breaks and other benefits. 

    • Steven Lorenza June 30, 2020 (6:53 am)

      The idea that Amazon is a drain on the local economy is more than a little absurd.

  • Hank L June 29, 2020 (2:40 pm)

    Quick, someone scream “UNACCEPTABLE” at them to make it happen faster and cost less.

    • Lee June 29, 2020 (4:32 pm)

      That works best if you combine it with a completely impractical suggestion for a replacement. “UNACCEPTABLE! They should use the grounded 737-MAX fuselages to fill up the river and then put really big wooden boards over them so people can DRIVE TO WORK! DO IT NOW!”

    • Jeff June 29, 2020 (4:56 pm)

      Easily the comment of the month. 

    • k June 29, 2020 (8:46 pm)

      Somebody said someone should scream something about saving time and money.   Somehow someone thinks this may be productive.   Somebody thinks screaming is a plan.   Sure, that should help.

  • mark47n June 29, 2020 (2:43 pm)

    This is going to be so cool!

  • GS June 29, 2020 (4:10 pm)

      Hopefully all goes well.  I would hate to see the bridge stay closed for years to come.

  • justwondering June 29, 2020 (5:19 pm)

    If they end up replacing it instead, wouldn’t all of that stabilizing be done for nothing? I don’t understand spending 22 million in order to stabilize something before demolishing it.

    • WSB June 29, 2020 (5:21 pm)

      The stabilizing is to help keep it from collapsing and has to be done no matter what.

    • Chemist June 29, 2020 (7:09 pm)

      Imagine how far up SDOT’s rear everyone with an interest in navigable waterways would be if SDOT were to just sit back and wait for the bridge to fall down and block the river for months of clean-up.  The city would have lots of extra reviews from the feds, especially if the city wanted to build a replacement bridge with federal funds.

    • lookingforlogic July 1, 2020 (6:17 pm)

      The first priority is to bandaid and use the current bridge, that will probably be a greatly reduced capacity and maybe for 10 years, while formulating a permanent solution.   

  • sna June 29, 2020 (6:01 pm)

    Is this the “shoring” work that was described in April that would take until 2021?  If so, does that mean we’re 6 months ahead of schedule here? 

  • Mike June 29, 2020 (6:05 pm)

    WSB is correct.  This stabilization has nothing to do with making the bridge useable.  It is to avoid a catastrophic collapse, which could damage the low bridge, possibly the railroad bridge, and block the waterway, and damage or destroy businesses.  .  Even this stablization is a complex project, requiring much study and planning.  Cool your jets.  You are not gonna be driving across the waterway for a long time.  

    • West Seattle Hipster June 30, 2020 (9:45 am)

      I just did last Saturday on the low bridge, felt good to be a rebel.

    • Mark June 30, 2020 (1:46 pm)

      Ya cool your jets everyone like Mike says but same time argue your property taxes down via appeal. Limited access to your property equals lower assessed values folks so when you get your new 2020 property tax estimate in the mail contest the assessed value immediately

      The county can get the “with reasonable bridge access” valuations when the Bridge is back up. Sorry County and City you can’t have it both ways.

      Get it moving and together quickly or maybe ask the big Kahuna’s like Amazon to chip in or pay their B&O taxes like every other business.

  • payattention June 29, 2020 (6:33 pm)

    Head scratching here. Would make sense-oops we’re talking government here that if it is indeed in danger of collapsing it would make sense(sorry-government involved)to spend the money to tear it down rather than spend money to shore up just to spend more money to tear down later. It’s pretty simple(sorry government involved here)either we’ll be driveing on it or not. Simple!…oop’s, sorry, gov’t involved here.    

    • Ron Swanson June 29, 2020 (9:06 pm)

      It actually makes perfect sense (oops, sorry, we’re talking know-it-all commenters here) – you can’t “tear it down” without stabilizing it first.  You can’t just blow it up and drop it into the river, you have to have heavy equipment up there to dismember it slowly like the viaduct, and are you going to tell the kids of those equipment operators their mom/dad will just have to take a significant risk the whole thing will collapse and kill them while they’re doing it? 

      • Elton June 30, 2020 (12:24 am)

        Come on now, payattention seems to think it’s super simple – sounds like they should’ve bid on the job. Maybe it’d be done by now with their vast expertise in civil engineering. They’ve even done due diligence ahead of the a panel of experts in the industry that SDOT is hiring and decided that the best course of action is to tear down the bridge – quite impressive indeed.

  • Smittytheclown June 29, 2020 (7:08 pm)

    Git r done!  Love the progress!  

  • dsa June 29, 2020 (11:10 pm)

    The proposed rescue post tension cables run from pier 16 to 17 which means across the river.  They are supposedly needed to facilitate tearing down the bridge if needed.  I hope someone has an explanation how that works.

  • miws June 30, 2020 (9:20 am)

    Just a data point, if it’s not clear enough for some at this point; From the very start (or, if not, *very* close to it), WSB has been reporting and has repeated *numerous* times, both in follow up reports and in comments (other commenters have repeatedly done so as well), that shoring *has* to happen, whether the bridge stays or goes. I understand that new readers may come along all the time, or, that longer-time readers maybe haven’t followed this issue from the start. But, the number of times the question of why shoring is needed, or the demand of “…just tear the damn thing down!!! Shoring isn’t needed!!!”,  has me wondering if some people think that endlessly repeating the question/demand will make the need for shoring just go away… —Mike

    • dsa June 30, 2020 (11:52 am)

      MIWS, if that was directed at me, please understand I know the need to shore up the bridge in order to tear it down.  What I do not understand is how adding what appears cross river post tensioning cables that go from one side of the river will facilitate bridge removal.  I want to know how they plan to avoid the big splash and damage to piers since they seem to have started  a course of action.

      • miws June 30, 2020 (2:12 pm)

        DSA, not directed at you. I just wanted to make a general point, because it seems like on every WSB story on the bridge issue,  there is at least one comment suggesting that shoring is a waste of time if the bridge ends needing to be demolished. It’s as if the commenters have missed the many-times repeated mention that shoring is needed even just to inspect the bridge to determine its fate. —Mike

  • on_board June 30, 2020 (9:21 am)

    “SDOT estimates 2020 costs for bridge repair to be $22.8 million”SDOT isn’t helping the confusion with statements like this. To be clear, this is not “bridge repair” but emergency stabilization. It has nothing to do with repair and is confusing the situation significantly.

  • artsea June 30, 2020 (9:58 am)

    If the bridge will never be used again, why not just tear it down now and save what they say it will cost to stabilize it to keep it from collapsing and causing problems to the lower roadway and the river,  and rail line?   I guess I just don’t understand the logic of what they’re proposing.

    • KBear June 30, 2020 (12:24 pm)

      Artsea, how about reading at least the first sentence of the article before making an uninformed comment?

  • Mj June 30, 2020 (1:43 pm)

    The stablelization and strengthing work in itself could facilitate opening the structure up to some traffic, hoping, with weight restrictions.

  • RD July 1, 2020 (3:40 pm)

    We need to remove the bridge bias  that many of us believe  currently exists.  For that reason I propose that “Bridge” be removed from  any committee name, project name  or discussion associated with  the West Seattle Bridge failure and be  replaced  with “Crossing” Whose with me?

  • RD July 1, 2020 (3:49 pm)

    As an example,  the  future connection between Vancouver, Wa. and Portland, Ore. is called Columbia Crossing.The Seattle version  could be called the ” Duwamish Crossing” !!

  • Alki Fam July 3, 2020 (3:38 pm)

    Just saw many, many cars going on to and coming off the lower bridge – what’s the deal with that? Thought that was closed except for buses? 

    • WSB July 3, 2020 (4:11 pm)

      Since the beginning, there have been drivers choosing to ignore the restrictions. Police have ticketed some but can’t hang out there all day. As reported here, the city is working on enforcement via camera but that wouldn’t be up and running until at least next month.

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