By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting that’s happening right now (video above), SDOT is announcing a milestone in the preparations for repairing and reopening the bridge: Now that the repair plan is 30 percent designed, they’ve officially launched the search for a contractor.
“It’s the point where we can start to see light at the end of the bridge,” observed task force co-chair Greg Nickels.
Today’s milestone – just under two weeks before the closure’s 1-year anniversary – also brought new information about the scope and projected cost of the high-bridge and low-bridge work ahead, which, as announced last month, are being bundled together in the same contract. We got a preview in a pre-meeting media briefing. Here are the highlights:
SDOT’s Heather Marx and Greg Izzo led the briefing. Here are the cost numbers:
That $175 million includes, SDOT says, not just the high- and low-bridge repairs, but all the costs incurred since the bridge closure, including traffic mitigation and stabilization work that’s already been completed. (Updated: Marx said during the meeting that $124 million of it is secured so far; she told the Task Force today that they’re seeking an INFRA grant from the feds for up to $21 million, and some other federal funding is already in hand, plus they’re seeking help from other “regional partners.” More financial info is promised at next month’s meeting)
The projected date for reopening remains “midyear” 2022 – the contractor will be expected to be done by June, and then, as we’ve reported previously, the bridge will be reopened in phases.
Marx said the phasing-in will be done “over the course of a couple weeks” to “be cautious.” Not only will they have a schedule, she said, they also will have a plan so that “everybody doesn’t rush” to use the bridge when just those initial lanes are open.
The method of choosing a contractor, GCCM (General Contractor/Construction Manager) – which has been in the plan for months, noted here when the mayor announced the repair plan in November – will make the process more “collaborative,” but won’t necessarily speed up the work. Marx said SDOT is wary of “making a promise we can’t keep.” So the deadline for prospective bidders to submit their qualifications is April 12th; SDOT expects to make a choice in late May, and the work should start in November. The months inbetween will include finalizing design, “negotiating maximum allowable cost,” and seeking subcontractors.
Also noted during the briefing, the work will go beyond additional strengthening with carbon-fiber wrapping and steel post-tensioning, which has been done as part of the stabilization project “to keep the bridge from falling down,” as Marx described it. The ground around Pier 18 will be “stiffened” with grout/slurry injection, to make it more earthquake-resistant. This pier is being targeted because it’s an “expansion pier,” and they’re considering the same thing for the ground around Pier 15. This part of the work will take about a month and a half but does not have to be completed before the high bridge reopens to traffic, SDOT says.
They are also considering “additional repairs,” which Marx explained would be “regular maintenance activities” that they would like to get done before the reopening, such as concrete work and expansion-joint replacement; those would not add to the $175 million cost estimate, she said, because they would be covered by already-allocated money designated for bridge maintenance.
Asked whether the low-bridge work will result in significant closures before the high bridge is open again, Marx said no – “any closure of the low bridge is going to be brief,” and they would aim for weekend/holiday periods. The low bridge work overall is expected to continue until fall 2022.
We are expecting more information as the WSBCTF meeting continues, and will add to this report.
ADDED 2:56 PM: Here’s the SDOT post about today’s milestone. The other major topic at the WSBCTF meeting was the status of expanding low-bridge access; we’ll publish a separate report on that.