WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Contractor announced for potential replacement design

On the eve of the next West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting, an announcement from SDOT – they’ve chosen

Seattle Department of Transportation has reached a major milestone in our work to restore mobility to West Seattle, the Duwamish Valley, and other communities impacted by the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure. Following a competitive Request for Qualifications process, we have selected the infrastructure solutions firm HNTB Corporation to design the West Seattle Bridge replacement.

This does NOT mean the “repair now and replace later, or replace now?” decision has been made – SDOT reiterates this step has to be taken now regardless of what that decision turns out to be. HNTB’s many projects, SDOT notes, include the Highway 99 tunnel, South Park Bridge, and Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The SDOT announcement adds:

By bringing on a firm to design a replacement of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge now, we are ensuring that all of the pieces are in place to quickly pivot if it becomes clear that repairing the bridge is not advisable, and that we will not lose valuable time hiring a design team to begin the rebuilding process. It also prepares us for the inevitable need to replace this critical route, even if the original bridge can be repaired and reopened for some amount of time.

Read the full announcement here.

26 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: Contractor announced for potential replacement design"

  • aRF August 18, 2020 (7:39 pm)

    HNTB also designs rail infrastructure. Just sayin’.

  • Karl Tull August 18, 2020 (8:07 pm)

    So does this mean the immersed tunnel concept is off the table? Does anyone know anything about this HNTB company?  Is someone monitoring our elected officials for receiving HNTB kickbacks?

    • WSB August 18, 2020 (9:09 pm)

      No, it does not. SDOT has reiterated that, and it also was spelled out in the plan for the cost-benefit analysis.

    • K. Davis August 18, 2020 (10:24 pm)

      “Is someone monitoring our elected officials for receiving HNTB kickbacks?”  What a moronic comment.  This is the level of stupidity we’re at … presuming everything is corrupt.  God help us.  

      • Resident August 19, 2020 (12:40 am)

        Take it easy there. It is a legitimate question when it comes to government contracts.

      • Bill August 19, 2020 (12:53 am)

        If WSB comments had a ‘like’ button I would upvote K. Davis. Maybe Karl expected the city to hire a household-name company, like Starbucks.

    • Tsurly August 19, 2020 (7:21 am)

      HNTB is a reputable firm. I went to grad school with several engineers who work form them, all super sharp individuals.

    • Peter August 19, 2020 (8:14 am)

      Karl, if you have evidence of kickbacks, please submit that evidence to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. https://www.seattle.gov/ethics What’s that you say? You don’t have evidence if squat and you’re just a troll? Oh well. 

  • Rick Earnestshroud August 18, 2020 (8:41 pm)

    Thank God something more than a 50 person committee meeting is finally happening

  • Montanapup August 18, 2020 (9:54 pm)

    Didn’t WSDOT sue these guys for the tunnel? 

    • Elton August 18, 2020 (11:00 pm)

      Didn’t Tutor Perini build the tunnel? I thought HNTB just designed it.

    • wscommuter August 19, 2020 (10:01 pm)

      No and no.  The SR 99 tunnel was constructed by Seattle Tunnel Partners – a consortium of Tutor Perini and Dragados (a Spanish tunneling specialist).  Hitachi Zozen designed and built Bertha.  HNTB did work on the STP team, but was not sued by WSDOT.  

  • Mj August 18, 2020 (10:32 pm)

    HNTB is a large capable firm. 

    What I do not understand is why the repair stabilization is being done at a snail’s pace?  I would expect to see work crews working 24 7 on the project yet I do not see any activity on the weekends, WHY?

    • gatewoodguy August 19, 2020 (7:17 am)

      MJ – agree HNTB is up to the task.  Great question for the Mayor today about the apparent low urgency of the repair work.  Every time passing the WS exit while on I-5, I glance  toward the WS Bridge and wonder how it’s going.  It would be interesting to hear the repair crew’s daily and weekly schedule (eg hours and days of the week).Interesting the SDOT announcement didn’t mention the design-build project delivery process and how HNTB’s work could fit with a more expeditious delivery process than traditional design-bid-build.  No mention either about coordinating with light rail transit planning for Duwamish crossing.  How many other design teams responded to the RFQ and who were they?SDOT deserves credit for announcing their selection in under 3 months from posting their RFQ as that process can be lengthy.

    • Lagartija Nick August 19, 2020 (8:49 am)

      Then you’d complain about cost overruns due to over time. Because all you do is complain … about everything.

  • dsa August 18, 2020 (10:52 pm)

    I do not know of today’s HNTB, but their prior history, experience and work product was among the best.

  • Michael Bloom August 19, 2020 (1:47 am)

    Please , remember that the Death Star had a design flaw too. We must have a sound design.

  • GAM August 19, 2020 (8:56 am)

    In support of Karl Tull’s commentFrom Wikipedia on the history of our current bridge…”three companies eventually bid to design the bridge for $1.5 million. However, the city engineer chose a fourth company that was financially connected to the speaker of the state house. The price from this fourth company was triple the cost of the other three. This was a result of a series of bribes involving the head of the House Transportation Committee, the city engineer and others.“Don’t get fooled twice.

    • Little One August 19, 2020 (9:29 pm)

      I thought we cleared this up already? The corruption case was in the 60s and 70s. The WS bridge as we know it was built in the 1980s. It is named for Jeannette Williams, the council member that championed the project.

  • L August 19, 2020 (9:25 am)

    I hope to God that they choose the repair option, with a replacement set for later.   The prospect of not having a bridge for 5+ years will be just devastating for the West Seattle community.   

    • EddieR August 19, 2020 (4:43 pm)

      West Seattle needs a working bridge as soon as possible. It is a crisis. Not repairing current bridge while Seattle delays and makes mistakes on a new construction is very irresponsible. 

    • Peter August 19, 2020 (6:02 pm)

      That doesn’t make any sense. If they repair it, that will get a few years of use, but it will still have to be closed for several years for demolition and replacement. Repairing it instead of going ahead with a replacement will cost a lot more money and drag this on a lot longer. 

      • LAM August 19, 2020 (9:23 pm)

        Thank you Peter!  Let’s not be short sighted. Repair= 2 years down now + 5 years down in another 15 years if we’re lucky (~7 years down over 17 years) vs Replace= 5 years down now then done! And if the tunnel is feasible it could be done sooner if they were to start constructing the tunnel in the dry dock while the shoring and demo work is still being carried out. We all feel the pain of the closure, but let’s bite the bullet, get this done right and save ourselves the future headache of going through this again.

  • ScubaFrog August 19, 2020 (4:38 pm)

    Repair fails in 15 +/-   years and may give WS less lanes of traffic (who knows?).  Businesses/West Seattleites are potentially stuck with a long repair, then less lanes of traffic and perpetual congestion until the bridge fails.  Upon failure, we’re forced to tear it all down, and rebuild (as we perhaps should’ve in now — lets wait for data) thus spending God knows how much more. I don’t want businesses forced to fold due to people refusing to wade through traffic to get here during mass congestion @ “the fix’s” potential limited lanes.  I still think we don’t have enough data to decide. Logic would dictate that doing two  massive builds would be a financial nightmare for Seattle, then a time-wasting exercise (twice) for WS, instead of once-and-done.

  • Mj August 19, 2020 (5:33 pm)

    Scuba in 15 years hopefully Light Rail will be providing service to WS, thus the fix get it open ASAP option needs to be priority #1

    • ScubaFrog August 20, 2020 (2:03 pm)

      Great point MJ, and something we should all keep in mind.  That’s going to be such a boon to businesses and congestion if/when the bridge fails again re a potential fix vs rebuild.  Great point!  I’m really excited for Light Rail and all that it will entail.

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