VIDEO: Mostly new West Seattle Bridge by 2023? Community Task Force gets briefed on ‘rapid span replacement’ concept

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Repaired bridge in 2022 or mostly new bridge in 2023?

That’s what the repair-or-replace decision could boil down to, now that a “rapid span replacement” has been vaulted into the mix.

The first hour of today’s Community Task Force meeting was devoted to an exploration of that concept. We’ll report separately tonight on the second part of the meeting, a discussion of the newly released Cost-Benefit Analysis, which does not include the “rapid span replacement,” though SDOT‘s project team points out that would fall in the CBA’s Alternative 4 “superstructure replacement” option.

If you missed the meeting (the viewing link was changed at the last minute), here’s the hour-long presentation and discussion of the new concept, which was described more than once during the meeting as “intriguing”:

Shown during the presentation was this animation of how the span replacement would be installed:

The presentation was given by Ted Zoli of HNTB, the firm the city hired this summer to design a replacement regardless of whether the decision is to repair or replace.

“Online replacement is the only option if speed is (a major) priority,” Zoli said, also noting that some of the existing structure would be reused, “mazimizing the seismic performance of the existing substructures.” He noted that the Duwamish River is “as busy a navigation channel as there is” – citing the low bridge’s need to open 1800 times a year. Earthquake performance is crucial because our area is ‘about due” for a big quake. At Lake Champlain – where HNTB built a bridge like this a decade ago – he said they replaced 2,000 feet of bridge “online” – compared to 1,300 feet that would be required in West Seattle – and replaced some of the substructures, all in 18 months.

He showed the animation of how the construction would work, maybe even opening half the new section before the other half is ready. “While we’re demolishing the existing West Seattle Bridge, we’re designing and building the new West Seattle Bridge … simultaneous parallel activities is the strategy for speed.” The “heavy lift” method of demolition would be utilized; that does not involve explosives.

As for the seismic concerns – liquefaction, settling – this type of bridge would include “seismic isolation.” “The beauty of a bridge like this …is that we could reduce displacement.” Also, the structure would be much lighter, 40 percent lighter than the existing bridge. And it’s more easily assessable after a quake. One challenge: The constraints of the West Seattle Bridge site, with another bridge right beneath it, so using barges would maximize how they work with that.

The arches would be 450 feet or less because of a “delta” structure at each end:

Zoli said they also have developed a ‘coating” methodology that would increase the life beyond traditional paint. They also feel permitting time could be reduced.

All this, he says, would get the timeline for building this bridge close to the timeline for repairs: “Our goal is to have the new bridge open in the first quarter of 2023 … we feel that’s feasible given the fast track.” And they think it could last 100 years.

Q&A: Community Task Force co-chair Greg Nickels asked about the scale compared to Lake Champlain That one was $80 million, delivered in 2011. Narrower bridge but comparable square footage. What about the clearance over the channel? Zoli said they could “gain 10 feet of additional clearance” with this type of construction, to 150 feet, and even widen the channel, because the arch span is ‘shallower.’ Nickels also wondered how this could be done fast and yet safely and cost-effectively. Zoli insisted it could, and said speed ranks first, while acknowledging “this is an enormously difficult site. … We owe you a very durable, very safe bridge … this is not a place for compromising.”

Co-chair Paulina Lopez wondered about the environmental impact to the Duwamish River. The fact that this would minimize in-water work was reiterated by Zoli. “Our goal is to stay out of the water … staying out of the water reduces the impacts.” Some construction activities affecting the water are unavoidable but could happen “in the existing alignment.”

West Seattle Bridge NOW‘s Jen Temple asked about funding – how can the process to procure it not extend this “rapid” timeline? Zoli said the two parts of the job that would “take the first year or so are demolition and fabrication … those are relatively small costs,” and the city already has some funding that could go toward that. “There’s not big outlays associated with the first year, year and a half of construction.” Installation is where the “big dollars come in.” Permitting streamlining would facilitate that.

Temple pressed, “So one of the risks is we could get a year in and still not have funding.” Zoli said that “we have a group that’s going to focus on that. … With this significant a bridge out of service,” he thinks that funding would not be a problem. “It may be complex funding …” Marx interjected that “for ANY option, even just repair, we’re going to need financing help. … it is multi-faceted and we’re not relying on any one source.” Nickels cited many past projects that didn’t have all the financing lined up before “we looked over the edge and jumped.”

Anne Higuera of Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor) wondered about the integrity of the existing piers – noting that replacement is mentioned in the CBA – and has that been taken into account for this concept? Zoli replied, “In order for us to (need) as little strengthening as possible, the strategy is to make the bridge much lighter,’ and incorporate the aforementioned “seismic isolation.” He said the piers were originally designed with good seismic capacity, as were “the foundations” – more than many designed in the 1980s. They’re “robust and enormous” and would give engineers/builders a lot to work with to deliver a “much lighter bridge.”

West Seattle Chamber of Commerce rep Dan Austin expressed skepticism about the concept of fast-tracking environmental permits. Have they spoken with local tribes? Marx said they’ll be talking to the Muckleshoot Tribe soon. The barging of components would not impact the fisheries, she suggested. And, Austin wondered, would they get analysis of this option the way that the CBA analyzes other options? Marx explained that this is just another form of Alternative 4, “superstructure replacement. … Fundamentally the Cost-Benefit Analysis is not about which version of (an alternative) we choose – it’s about an archetype.” The 12-week Size/Type/Location study to follow a decision would narrow in on that. “Ted is bringing us a compelling idea,” but this does not represent any kind of decision. Austin said this is going to sound to the public like this is a done deal. It’s not.

Peter Steinbrueck, Seattle Port Commission president, also voiced concerns about permitting and funding. “I do elieve miracles can happen if there’s a will .. but they’re rare.” Would the low bridge have to be shut down during demolition/construction? he also asked. Zoli said there wouold be a 24-hour shutdown for lifting the spans – Lake Champlain required 12 hours. “One time outages for each lift or lower” – probably two for removing the existing span, two for lifting the new archives, so four 24-hour closures. Zoli added, “I cant think of a project in the country that’s more worthy of a fast-track replacement than this bridge.” They had some challenges at Lake Champlain, too, he said – dealing with two states (VT and NY). “Everyone’s going to have to come to this with a can-do attitude,” Marx added.

If this is a version of Alternative 4, would the cost be comparable to what’s posited in the CBA for that option? asked City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. They haven’t crunched the numbers but “probably,” Marx suggested, adding that SDOT has become “increasingly intrigued” by this idea. Zoli noted that the “much faster” aspect of this (the Alternative 4 archetype was suggested as not opening until 2026) is the big differentiator.

Diane Sosne of SEIU Local 1199 said this is more about “political will” than “miracles.” Is there anything from other rapid replacements such as the much-discussed Genoa, Italy, bridge that suggests lessons to be learned? Zoli spoke again about speed and said this is probably the top U.S. project right now that mandates it.

SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe assured CTF members that the project team is pursuing answers to these questions and more. He reiterated that “even if we’re on a repair pathway, we eventually would have to replace the bridge … if we are on this pathway to a replacement, before we take steps we can’t walk back from, we would answer those questions.”

Nickels asked Zimbabwe to recap what the Size/Type/Location study would do, if replacement is the decision. It would “get to a level of preliminary engineering” that would provide some cost information and help the funding process. The study would bring them very close to having “construction documents” for a design-build process.

In thanking Zoli for his presentation, Nickels again called the idea “incredibly intriguing.”

WHAT’S NEXT: Community Task Force members will continue mulling the Cost-Benefit Analysis, and will meet again next Wednesday (October 28th). Meantime, we’ll report on that part of today’s CTF meeting in a separate story later tonight. And if you have questions for SDOT, bring them to tomorrow night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting (6:30 pm Thursday, online, viewing/participation info on WSTC’s calendar).

63 Replies to "VIDEO: Mostly new West Seattle Bridge by 2023? Community Task Force gets briefed on 'rapid span replacement' concept"

  • Chris Stripinis October 21, 2020 (5:15 pm)

    Hey, nice bridge!

    • Meyer October 22, 2020 (12:59 pm)

      I have huge reservations about re-using the same existing piers which very well could have contributed to some of the advanced cracking of the current bridge. I also have even larger reservations of their timeline. I know I’m being pessistmistic, but using other large infrastructure projects in the Puget Sound area as evidence – this option could very well take 5 years. Since its re-using the same piers it could wind up cracking  a few years after it opens. At that point, lets just repair and start a moving forward to the light rail + full replacement option years down the road. The current repairs are already underway and are the cheapest and fastest option. All these last minute “rapid replacements” to me sound like a way for West Seattle to accept the replacement idea and guaranteed a few years in, they will delay things, go over budget and possibly add a toll or LID tax.

      • Quiz October 22, 2020 (2:22 pm)

        Yeah, we should sit around wringing our hands for at least another eight months…

  • Flivver October 21, 2020 (5:29 pm)

    WSB. Was there any discussion that this fix(sounds REALLY good to me!)would get funding for 24/7 work? Is this timeline based on that or some lessor work schedule?  

    • WSB October 21, 2020 (7:04 pm)

      No discussion of work schedule.

  • Graciano October 21, 2020 (5:40 pm)

    Pull the plug on repairing it, Replace it with the above!

    • JeffK October 21, 2020 (6:30 pm)

      I was in the replace the whole dang thing with a new bridge or tunnel camp, but this looks great!

  • Vlad Oustimovitch October 21, 2020 (5:42 pm)

    This procedure of floating in completed sections of bridge and lifting them in place was demonstrated with the construction of the new Kerch bridge in Europe in 2017 using 12 hour lift times: This option leverages local business.  The maritime industry in Seattle is capable of assembling the steel sections just a short float away.  

  • psps October 21, 2020 (5:54 pm)

    LOL. Here we go with another, “but wait, here’s another idea!” Meanwhile, the months/years go by. The sole determining factor should be the shortest time required to get traffic moving in the corridor again.  Add to that both a punitive penalty for missing any promised completion dates and a reward for beating it. Adding (at least) another 18 months of strangulation for this pretty but unnecessary alternative should make it ineligible for consideration.

    • Foop October 22, 2020 (3:29 am)

      I’d actually prefer if the determining factor was a safe bridge, but sure, let’s build a fast bridge that kills a hundred people when an earthquake hits.I hope we do our due diligence here, this felt like a sales pitch.

      • Quiz October 22, 2020 (2:24 pm)

        It is basically a sales pitch, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad or unsafe idea.

  • Findlay October 21, 2020 (6:03 pm)

    Always enjoy Seattle’s “Can’t Do” attitude!

  • Meredith Bricken Mills October 21, 2020 (6:05 pm)

    Sensible.  Please do this.

  • Mj October 21, 2020 (6:20 pm)

    psps – the punitive penalties are being levied against WS residents via technically indefensible speed limits on Principal Arterials, failure to maximize the use of the lower level bridge (motorcycles should be allowed to use it), no plans to increase bus service to areas without midday weekend service, little effort to increase capacity on alternative routes, etc

    Enough study already the repair is doable, can be done for $47 million and if the City incentiveses the work by Fall 2021

  • ExcuseMe October 21, 2020 (6:22 pm)

    The fact that SDOT has had months and months to “mull and ponder and meet” and STILL is spinning in circles should inform anyone they are not able to complete any project on time or under budget. Seattle simply does not have dynamic people employed to complete this on time. No freaking way. Seattle is too back water. Look at past performance…SDOT will fail and fail and fail again. 0% chance they can do this by Q1 2023. 0%. They are lying just like Heather Marx lied on KOMO 4 news a couple weeks ago. West Seattle needs to consider a lawsuit to get it repaired. 

    • 1994 October 21, 2020 (8:56 pm)

      Frightening! but accurate. I agree that SDOT has had months to get traffic mitigations in place and seems like more could have been accomplished by now. They got a new traffic light installed, reworked a few traffic lights, repaved a couple of short stretches of road surface…..what about restriping some traffic lanes to increase capacity in the few areas that could handle increased capacity? No new paint yet. Those paint changes would be temporary until a big bridge is operational. 

    • LR October 22, 2020 (2:59 pm)

      I’m afraid that you’re right excuseme.  Absolutely no one is being held accountable. Still.  And I’m  afraid this will get much worse.  In seven months there easily could have been something figured out.Most of west Seattle is quite wary to drive on the repaired bridge.  Sdot couldn’t even take care of the last bridge.  The frozen bearing…scary. 

  • Great reporting WSB October 21, 2020 (6:35 pm)

    Great summary West Seattle Blog.  It captured the important points and saved me 40 minutes of searching through the video for important parts!  THANK YOU!

  • Cranky Westie October 21, 2020 (6:50 pm)

    There is the unavoidable ,”bait-and-switch” feeling to this amazing, last minute , sexy superhero summoned from the sidelines, to save the day from the horrible, not so good, mediocre, “just-fix-the-damn-thing-fast” solutions. It feels like this was orchestrated to have them come in with this in the nick of time from the very start. Sad to say, it probably is the best idea, I just hate manipulation. 

  • Dawson October 21, 2020 (6:52 pm)

    Guaranteed we’ll do the wrong thing, not this option, because of Herbold.

  • AT October 21, 2020 (6:52 pm)

    Looks great, when can we start?

  • JVP October 21, 2020 (6:57 pm)

    I watched the meeting video. This is an incredibly compelling option if repair is not feasible.  However, there are points to consider that make this less exciting than it may seem. 1) Cost is about the same as other repair options, according to Heather Marx in the video. Not cheap. 2) There is substantial timing risk with permits. City, Coast Guard, tribal, and SEPA. They’re assuming a massively expedited permit and approval process like what they did in Lake Champlain. I’d add on another year for Seattle process, with lawsuit risk on top of that.  Very risky timeline on this vs. repair. 3) Where are we getting the money for replacement? We’d need to get it fast. Not easy to do when budgets are in bad shape at all levels of government. 

  • Joe October 21, 2020 (6:59 pm)

    If this were Bellevue, we’d have a completely new bridge by 2022.

  • Matt P October 21, 2020 (7:03 pm)

    Friendship ended with repair option.  Rapid replacement option is my new best friend.

    • Mudasir October 21, 2020 (11:00 pm)

      Good one 😂

    • JVP October 22, 2020 (9:37 am)

      What do you consider rapid? Best case on this is 2023, and that assumes almost instant approval, permit issuance, Coast Guard agreeing to it, no lawsuits, and securing initial funding (and this is 10x more expensive than repair). So realistically we’re looking more like mid-2024 into 2025. Repairs face much easier regulatory approvals than replacements.  Watch the vid, you’ll hear this refrain about approval timeline risk over and over.

  • Dakota Andover October 21, 2020 (8:10 pm)

    This replacement option looks enticing, but for reference, the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee, WI is a very similar bridge.  It too, was designed by HNTB and opened in 1977.  In 2000, the bridge experienced a partial collapse and sagging of the road way.  From the wiki page, it states ,”Experts believe that improperly designed welds between the lower lateral bracing and floorbeams along with a period of extreme cold and snow led to the partial collapse of the Hoan Bridge.”I’m all for the potential option, but I’m hoping HNTB could address this and what lessons they learned from this bridge type and  design failures on one of their own very similar bridge projects.  Another similar bridge in Green Bay, WI (yes, I’m originally from WI so am familiar with these projects) is the Leo Frigo Memorial bridge (opened 1981) and experienced structural failures and roadway sagging in 2013.  I don’t know the designer of the Frigo bridge, but hopefully we don’t repeat those problems here.

  • Just do it already October 21, 2020 (8:13 pm)

    I like it! Where’s the fast track for the light rail? 

  • Anthony October 21, 2020 (8:32 pm)

    Do you know the West Seattle logo that mimics the old Sonics logo? Well, this bridge actually is a better match. Let’s do it! 

  • Mr. C-vu October 21, 2020 (9:16 pm)

    Hmmm…intriguing…but call me a skeptic.Where is the  video showing where properly sized equipment such as high capacity cranes would be located so we know this is a workable  solution? Watching the decks levitate off, up and down, then dissapear into thin air was a hint that they spent more time on the animation than the engineering. The corridor is exceedingly constrained. There are utilities and critical infrastructure galore out there and evolving requirements from tribal, federal, state, city and county agencies that typically don’t all work together on infrastructure projects like this.  This is a high risk project. It is unlikely to go smoothly, but under optimal conditions and good luck it is possible. I have worked on projects with a similar amount of stakeholders…that adds lots of complexity and chances for crossed wires.Without  a simulation that shows all known constraints for properly sized equipment including safety offsets this is nothing more than a very sexy cartoon. Maybe they can do it all from the existing deck…and somehow streamline permitting…Repair or replace HNTB gets to do the replacement design. But if its a repair now replace 40 years later, then their design fee for a replacement and  follow on support contract for more lucrative construction project are at risk. The design fee for the replacement for a project like this is likely same order of magnitude as the repair.  Stakeholders and politicians will be reluctant to  pay for a design for a replacement that might be decades away and cost a similar amount as the repair.  If HNTB executives were smart they would be positioning for a sole source design build contract which would be a total pay day.  After reading the WSP report I would be starting to sweat about lost  revenue and profits posed by repair if I were them. We the people of West Seattle on the other hand are at risk from one bad calculation or flawed assumption pushing the schedule to the right by several years. I have worked in this industry for over two decades. I see this happen all the time. Do the math, then the marketing. When I see how slick this is it looks like the ulterior motive of this video is to stop repair from happening and to sway public opinion toward replacement now. Problems dont often materialize until later phases of design…as more info comes in an final calculations are checked. Be warned, they are not showing you the equipment that would be needed to do this work or if there is space to safely accommodate the lifts shown. I get that the seismic stability of this design is superior to the repair but if it can’t be done safely and rapidly with high assurance then no deal.  Give us a good lift plan, cost estimate and construction schedule then lets talk. We know a lot about the bridge and how to fix it now. The list of unknowns and assumptions is far smaller for repair than the rapid replace  option. It took 6 months to get to this point and will take a similar amount of time to vet the rapid replacement. We could use that time to start  the repair.  That buys us time to properly design a replacement and coordinate with sound transit.

    • W SEA Res October 22, 2020 (3:08 pm)

      Most sensible comment I’ve seen.  You’ve got to keep the profit motive in mind. Doe you really believe a new bridge can be designed, permitted (including inevitable lawsuits) and built in that short a timeframe? Not in this city!

  • nancy henderson October 21, 2020 (9:27 pm)

    Looks great. Is there an option for a suspension bridge or is this a hybrid of one? Sure wish we had gone suspension vs. tunnel on the viaduct.

  • Rumbles October 21, 2020 (11:12 pm)

    Add one more potential agency to the approval mix, the FAA. I wonder how much of an effect that high arch will have on air traffic into Boeing Field, or if anyone has considered that.  🤷🏻‍♂️

    • WSB October 21, 2020 (11:39 pm)

      That was discussed in the other part of the meeting (story to come tomorrow, I can’t finish it tonight). The cable-stayed concept would probably require FAA review but this one, they thought not.

      • Vlad Oustimovitch October 22, 2020 (10:10 am)

        I think that  FAA review might be necessary, but probably something that can be done concurrently with the other permitting.  I regularly fly planes in and out of Boeing Field, it is located in complicated airspace due to the proximity of SeaTac Airport.  I’ve attached a snapshot of the chart showing Boeing Field in relation to the bridge.  It is close to the approach for runway 14R with a restriction for any aircraft in that area to be flying below 1,800 feet to avoid the Class B airspace of SeaTac.   In order to land, aircraft crossing Spokane are well below that, at about 1,200 to 1,300 feet.  There might be some clearance issues to consider.

  • Accidental Islander October 21, 2020 (11:39 pm)

    After six months, they are just identifying a new replace option and we are going to trust them to expedite a huge project like this? That is magical thinking – nice presentation, but no time to vet permitting, cost, funding sources, etc. There is no way they get the bridge replaced in less than 6 years. They need to repair the bridge – and then, with the time that seems to be needed for any Seattle transportation project, make a plan for a new bridge, get everyone aligned, and get the permits before causing the pain that a long construction project will extract from the people of West Seattle. 

  • MK October 22, 2020 (12:42 am)

    Siren song! As soon as the existing engineering company, which has actually been working on stabilizing the bridge for months, said that it can feasibly be fixed to actually last until the end of its design life (2060?), here comes a new upstart firm showing snazzy renderings, saying that it can be rebuilt in the same time frame. Give me a break! Are we really talking about expediting permits? In Seattle? Seriously? This is the one city where even the most basic permit takes twice as long as the rest of the country. And this will become abundantly clear as soon as the existing span is dismantled. Then, all of a sudden, the coast guard will come up with new requirements for that one-in-a-century chance that they may need to ship something really tall under the bridge, which means that the approaches need to be demolished, more money, more permits, tons of lawsuits and even more permits. Bottom line is that you either fix the current bridge and have it open ASAP, which will last until 2060 with proper maintenance, or you dismantle it with dreams of a fancier bridge, but it means that we won’t have a new bridge until 2030.

  • MK October 22, 2020 (1:59 am)

    And I just wanted to point out one more thing that people may not realize. Our current bridge structure was permitted and built (in the 80s) with federal permits because of the Duwamish river/waterway underneath. We can maintain and repair it as we please, and that’s the expectation. However, the moment that we want to demolish or rebuild it, the federal government needs to approve all modifications. This means that we lose all control locally. So anyone who says claims that a new bridge can be fast-tracked, built and open by 2022 is lying because of it’s out of their control.

  • Joesph October 22, 2020 (2:56 am)

    Nice, but I prefer the submerged short tunnel idea. Knock the whole mess down ASAP and start digging the hole. That failed bridge should be recycled concrete by now.

    • CAL October 22, 2020 (2:38 pm)

      Joesph, the bridge isn’t a mess.  It has a single issue – a bottom deck PT detailing issue that caused the cracks.  Anyone who thinks otherwise has simply fallen victim to SDOT’s misleading and deceitful messaging on the bridge.  Read the CBA and read what WSP has to say about it – there is better than 95% confidence the repair will last 40 years or more.  The bridge, as built and restored via repair has better than standard seismic performance.  Tearing down this bridge would be an unconscionable waste.  Only in Seattle, and only with the leadership in this department of transportation, would there ever be a discussion about replacing a readily repairable bridge when the repair costs to restore this young structure to last its expected life are less than 10% of the replacement costs. 

  • Amrakx October 22, 2020 (6:08 am)

    When it sounds to good to be true it usually is.  Repair and let us get on with our lives in 2022.  

  • Bronson October 22, 2020 (7:01 am)

    Looks like a number of people on here love the shiny new object. You all must be the early adapters of any new tech that comes out, bugs, warts and all…haha! There is no reason to believe whatsoever that this would be completed in 2-3 years given the track record of SDOT, the permitting process, and basically every other public infrastructure project in my lifetime (basically, not all). This proposal is pie-in-the-sky, and a distraction or effort to line someone’s pockets. Repair the bridge and let’s plan for the future. Ridiculous.Also, as a Pigeon Point resident, absolutely no to 24/7 construction on a replacement bridge. 

    • Doug October 22, 2020 (2:18 pm)

      I agree! If it’s taken this long just to surface the rapid-replacement option with few to no details, how can anyone seriously believe this miracle bridge will be ready so soon? SDOT is totally unequipped to work on a project of this scope with such an aggressive timeline.

      Whoever succeeds Durkan can just blame delays on her. Repair, repair, repair.

    • 1994 October 23, 2020 (10:26 pm)

      Funicular going up the east side of Pigeon Point from the low bridge area could help move a lot of people and bicyclists, and then run a shuttle service from the top to other points in West Seattle. 

  • Steve October 22, 2020 (7:14 am)

    Have some faith, people.  Trashing a ‘concept’ before it can be vetted is just a downer.  Give them some time and hopefully we’ll get the answers we need.  I’m now leaning to the mid-span replacement BUT the city has to do SOMETHING about helping us out…especially those of us from the Alaska Junction north.  Our collective nerves are shot. Taking away lanes (W. Marginal), talking about taking away more lanes and installing bike lanes, reducing speed limits on arterials, poor signal timing on Roxbury, ridiculous lane markings (8th and Roxbury…the stupid ‘right turn only’ lane heading south on 8th).  I’ve hated SDOT for years and this crisis has firmed my belief in what a failure they are.

    • YogisDad October 22, 2020 (3:26 pm)

      Steve, if you don’t trash a concept before it’s vetted, you’re not playing the game. It’s also vital to make declarations on what will or won’t work in bridge construction based on a BA in art history, to insist on the fastest fix no matter how temporary it would be, to dismiss every new proposal as a con job, to accuse everyone who might work on it of profiteering, and to trash every study required as a waste of time. That’s what makes Seattle public works such a fun participation sport.

  • L October 22, 2020 (7:49 am)

    People, don’t be fooled by this.   Where has SDOT been the last 6 months?   Why is this coming out of nowhere?   There is absolutely no way we will have a new bridge in 3 years.   The timeline will be extended by endless permitting and studying, and the costs will skyrocket.   Repair the bridge and START NOW!   Spend the $47 million which gives us a 95% chance of a 40-year timeline.   Who knows what the world will look like in 40 years, and we will have light rail!   

  • JT October 22, 2020 (7:51 am)

    This looks like an attractive option but there are way too many unknowns. I am not willing to rely on a “miracle” to get funding and permitting expedited to make this happen on this extremely optimistic timeline.

  • mark47n October 22, 2020 (7:52 am)

    I find many these comments to be fascinating! Many miss the point and miss crucial understanding about what is being discussed.The repair options that have been floated have PROJECTED lives between 5 and 40 years with no one really knowing and said repairs can also fail suddenly and possibly spectacularly. We have an opportunity to replace this bridge, that was severely damaged with minimal demolition and reusing may structural elements which limits cost and time. The parallel component is also important and is explained well by Ted the Engineer, which also limits time and cost. This design also allows for the potential of having to raise the elevation of this bridge up to 10′ and its primary structural components are replaceable while under live load (read when people are driving on it). It’s highly unlikely that this would be the case with box beam construction. For myself, I’m in favor of replacement, especially if we’re talking a time frame of <30 months. To some of the other issues: we don’t need to se the cranes. They exist. They were used to raise the sections of the new Narrows bridge, which was floated here from Korea. This isn’t a new way of doing things.There is no cost yet. There is only a concept. We don’t have actual costs on any replacement option because they haven’t done a Type, Size and Location study which wouldn’t happen until after a replacement option is selected. That said, we don’t have actual costs on repair, either. We have Rough Order of Magnitude projections (ROM). Actual estimates cannot be formulated until there is an actual plan, engineering has been begun, permitting has begun, etc.Seattle’s populace, indeed ours, here in WS, is famously short-sighted. We are looking at this from the point of view of our own convenience, a very expensive place to view things from in direct and indirect costs, not from  a long term position. The ability to look at things from the long term is what we need from the people that are spearheading this project and it’s going to take some guts and forbearance to put up with the whiners.All of this said, I found that the nurse (I don’t remember her name) wandered all over the map with her question and ended up in a completely different place than where she seemed to start and I hate that Heather Marx interrupts people during the Q&A.Again, look at this from the long view, not from the point of view you see out of your windshield.

    • Alki Heights October 22, 2020 (10:30 am)

      Well said Mark!

    • WGA October 22, 2020 (12:07 pm)


      Thanks for the thoughtful remarks. I agree completely about taking a big picture view of this (or any) project. Short term fixes simply “kick the can” down the road, only to be dealt with again in the future when a permanent solution will be more expensive.

      (A side note: looks like you had paragraphs in your reply that were lost when you sent the message. You can fix that by immediately editing the reply and adding them back in.) Like I just did with this last bit.

      • CAL October 22, 2020 (2:31 pm)

        This repair is not a short term fix.  The first phase of the repair fixes the detailing error that caused the cracks.  The second phase of the fix strengthens the bridge to limit stress under live load so that the service life of the bridge will be extended to the end of the original bridge’s useful life – that’s an AASHTO design criteria requirement.  Read the CBA – WSP’s engineers have a 95% confidence that the repair will go 40 years or beyond.  Repair is not kicking the can.  This is taking care of deferred maintenance that should have been done 8 years ago to ensure that this asset will be useful through 2060 and beyond.  The bill for the superstructure work is less than 10% of the replacement cost of the bridge. It irresponsible for the City to do anything other than repair the bridge.

  • wseaturtle October 22, 2020 (8:59 am)

    I’m sure most enjoyed the cute little video. I got  “oh oh” chills.

  • Rick October 22, 2020 (11:31 am)

    Bike lanes and rainbow paint jobs will get it done!

  • I. Ponder October 22, 2020 (12:15 pm)

    Nice video. Makes it look so easy… too easy. The original mission was “can the bridge be repaired”? Yes it can. That’s the cheapest and most predictable in terms of speed. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Beware mission creep and wishful thinking that this replacement scenario can be done quickly. Yes, it’s cool. Seattle process doesn’t work that way. Never has. Accept the basic repair and get back to work.

  • zark00 October 22, 2020 (1:09 pm)

    Time for a lawsuit.  West Seattle needs to sue to force the fastest possible repair solution.  The hand-wringing over repair being unsafe, and possibly failing for no reason just because it was a repair not replacement is completely unfounded – read the report.  This is nothing more than SDOT trying to ‘land’ the $1.2B project and the associated budget – that’s it – SDOT are selling West Seattle down the river to get themselves a nice fat, huge budget, project to keep them going.  Don’t google ‘HNTB bridge failures’ btw – we are so screwed.

  • Mark October 22, 2020 (1:36 pm)

    fix the bridge or next year when I can I argue my access to my home is degraded to nil and argue a huge discount on my property taxes. They got away with it this year but Not next year sorry King County but if you don’t step in next year when we can site the bridge out as a reason for lowering assessed values it will happen. I will also encourage all west West Seattlites to argue their tax bill as well. The assessments were done this year in January so we cannot argue about the closure of the bridge but next tax season look out King County you might want to get these city council people and SDOT  people in order and into a speedy plan to get the bridge open again or lose  all your west seattle property tax revenue.  

  • Neal Chism October 22, 2020 (2:01 pm)

    I rather like this new steel structure option.  It’s hard to know if a composite (concrete and steel rebar in this case) structure has been fixed or not. Probably the reason for the low life estimates for the repair option. For the tunnel option, aside from the cost issues, as presented, both portals are very near sea level. Right now at high tide the ocean is bumping up against the underside of the other low bridge down there which crosses the East Channel Waterway. Also, tunneling would be done in a river estuary, and disturbing one of the most congested (infrastructure wise) areas of the city. 

  • CAL October 22, 2020 (2:23 pm)

    The bridge concept is beautiful indeed – a great idea if we
    needed a new bridge.  But we do not.  Our bridge is good, and the repairs needed to
    get it back into service are almost complete. 
    The bridge engineers have 95% confidence that the repair will last 40
    years or more.  The actual cost of the
    superstructure repairs are less than ½ of $47M stated in the CBA – a figure
    that includes foundation improvements that would be done 10 years from
    now.  We have a bridge that is very
    nearly repaired. Take the extra $350M we would be spending on a new and
    unnecessary bridge and spend it on something worthwhile.  Fix the bridge – the repair costs merely a
    deferred maintenance bill come due.  

  • MC October 22, 2020 (4:06 pm)

    The manner in which West Seattle residents are being treated by the City and SDOT is truly shameful. 200+days into this mess and at the 11th hour there is a new bridge proposal with a magically much shorter build time than the 6 years estimated for the original replacement proposal which residents soundly rejected. We know how these projects go and how deadlines are extended by months or even years. REPAIR THE BRIDGE ALREADY! If it was any other time where we had the luxury of a strong economy that would be another situation, but our small business and residents can’t take much more. Any option but immediate repair will kill our community. 

  • Michael Bloom October 22, 2020 (8:26 pm)

    I would be more than happy for a toll system put in place at the beginning of the year. Might as well get money flowing into the bridge project.  I would say the toll applies to all personal vehicles and business owned commercial vehicles. 

  • H October 23, 2020 (8:18 am)

    The answer to this is so obvious — REPAIR THE BRIDGE!   Don’t waste another day debating this.   The mayor needs to step in and provide some leadership here.   

  • Secede October 25, 2020 (10:32 pm)

    If you read the report, repair is clearly the recommended option. This is a report that SDOT and the city commissioned. They didn’t take down the viaduct while they were figuring out what to build and constructing the tunnel. They kept it up and as safe as possible. The West Seattle Bridge had more trips than the viaduct. If Seattle doesn’t want to fix the bridge, West Seattle should secede and look for state or federal funding for a repair.With all of the incompetence in Seattle – think of how great things would be in West Seattle with our own police, schools and transit plan. We could just form a city with the area served by the bridge – from Fauntleroy North – and fund our own water taxi and ferry fleet until we get the bridge repaired.

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