WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Repair-finalist interviews begin

When last we checked on the next step in West Seattle Bridge repairs – choosing a contractor – SDOT told us they’d received six proposals, and that a “shortlist” would be chosen by the start of May. Checking back, we’re told there are three teams on that shortlist. Interviews inviting them “to show how their experience and qualifications make them the best fit for the work” began yesterday, SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB, adding that the interviews “will be followed up by asking the candidates to submit price proposals and then developing a pre-construction scope of work. We expect to finalize the contract by the end of June.” The contractor will be doing low-bridge work as well as the high-bridge repairs, totaling about $72 million. The next public bridge briefing is tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon, when the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meets (here’s the livestream link).

61 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Repair-finalist interviews begin"

  • Scott Middleton May 11, 2021 (12:19 pm)

    This is a matter of public record, but I didn’t see the 3 finalists listed anywhere on SDOT’s website.  Who are the 3 finalists?  

  • AIDM May 11, 2021 (12:52 pm)

    Meeting to decide on the meeting to discuss the personnel for the meeting on the agenda for the meeting to discuss the possibility of fixing one of the most used structures in Seattle. This all sounds very important and professional. Good use of the last 14 months SDOT! And congrats on metering our low bridge trips like vaccine doses and ensuring it is under utilized. 

    • Anne May 11, 2021 (1:48 pm)

      I also get tired of hearing about yet another meeting- but this is so important- it needs to get done right-so if that means more meetings -so be it. Beware though- that $72 million dollar number might not be the final cost.

      • SeaSpade May 11, 2021 (8:38 pm)

        Based on history that’s the downpayment.  If we’re lucky we had to put up 50% up front to book the slot and let them buy materials.

    • Chels P May 11, 2021 (7:02 pm)

      Amen! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  • Jort May 11, 2021 (12:55 pm)

    Has the city considered hosting a “Citizen’s Interview Panel” where normal, everyday West Seattle citizens can scream their lungs out about how fast they demand the bridge be repaired? Just think of all the Seattle Process opportunities!

  • kj May 11, 2021 (1:18 pm)

    You just STARTED interviewing contractors!

  • D May 11, 2021 (1:21 pm)

    Minneapolis, MN I-35W Bridge:Collapses Aug 1, 2007. Reopens Sept 18, 2008

    • My two cents … May 11, 2021 (2:29 pm)

      @D. Citing the Minneapolis bridge and corresponding timeframe doesn’t provide the technical & engineering factors that differ from the West Seattle Bridge. Making a point is great – but it should be explained and backed up with the rationale and assumptions, otherwise it’s like saying that I paid $2.12 for a gallon of gas in 2008.

      • Jane May 11, 2021 (4:27 pm)

        here are the detailshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-35W_Saint_Anthony_Falls_Bridge

      • D May 11, 2021 (9:05 pm)

        The technical details are fairly meaningless in the comparison (yes I am a mechanical engineer).  It is all about the politicians.  We wanted to get to the moon before 1970. Done.The politicians in MN decided it get it done fast.  Done. The politicians in Seattle decided not get it done fast. They don’t care. Simple as that. 

        • Shufflerunner May 11, 2021 (9:39 pm)

          Hello there fellow Mechanical Engineer! Considering static bridges are typically a civil or structural engineering problem I suspect that you, like I, have no idea how to actually build a bridge. Also the point about getting to the moon by 1970 is a terrible comparison since they threw an unlimited budget and as many bodies as they could find with an engineering degree at it. We also killed at least 9 astronauts before we got there.  

  • olivist May 11, 2021 (1:41 pm)

    So there is still no decision on an actual contractor to repair the bridge and there won’t be before June 2021 (at earliest!).  And they are still saying mid-2022 to reopen? That means, SDOT spent 15-18 months dilly-dallying, doing endless “outreach” (not that they ever seem to listen to anything people say), and spouting complete bull** to get to the point where it will take 9-12 months to ACTUALLY FIX THE BRIDGE?Meanwhile, it took me 85 minutes to get downtown this morning for a Dr. appt.   With “light” traffic compared to pre-pandemic.  I think it’s time for a change at SDOT.  Maybe someone who can get something done.   

    • East Coast Cynic May 11, 2021 (2:12 pm)

      85 minutes to get downtown?  Did you drive or take the bus.  In my experiences taking the bus downtown I’ve have made it in a window of 30 to 45 minutes.  I could imagine a longer time if driving from going the back way, but there hasn’t been a lot of traffic on the bridge to slow the buses, unless the cheaters have started to come out in force.

      • on_board May 11, 2021 (4:20 pm)

        Last two days a trip to Capitol Hill from N. Admiral took about 70 minutes between 7 and 8 am.Not every trip can be done by bus. This is a complete disaster and there is simply no sense of urgency on behalf of the city.

        • Brian May 12, 2021 (11:30 am)

          70 minutes is actually comparatively fast. I just checked what my options would be (also in N. Admiral). Given that it’s lighter traffic now but lower bus volume, Google maps is telling me it would take 1 hour and 7 minutes if I take the 128 to the C line to the light rail then walk the last 10 minutes (of course that’s assuming everything runs exactly on time, not having to wait longer between the two transfers).If I don’t want to make two transfers I have to walk for 20 minutes of the travel time and make 1 transfer to get there in 1 hour 20 minutes. Google maps says it would be 30 minutes driving. Assuming I’m coming back and that the travel times are the same to and from, I would have to spend an additional hour and 15 minutes traveling if I want to take public transportation.This is all to go like 8 miles.. If you can sustain a running pace of 6 mph, it would take 78 minutes. That’s the worst part, the fastest way for me to get to capitol hill is likely going on foot. 

  • Harold Smith May 11, 2021 (1:45 pm)

    Why do people who don’t know any better insist on nit-picking? Have you ever run a large project of this scope?  If not, sit down. You don’t get it.

    • john May 11, 2021 (2:28 pm)

      Harold – didn’t you see the Minneapolis post above?  Big projects get completed with expediency all the time when the will is there.  

      • Yup May 11, 2021 (4:24 pm)

        John,  Do you understand the bridges are 2 completely construction.  I think that was pointed out right below in the previous post. Can’t compare apples to oranges 

        • SeaSpade May 11, 2021 (8:43 pm)

          Yes, we’ve heard ad nauseum they’re different, but if you look at things like that, and the rebuild of the Santa Monica freeway after the Northridge quake, you’ll see a much more aggressive 24×7 work schedule, massive incentives and a sense of urgency from officials including funding.  Here, the task has expanded to fit the time required to find the funding and is aided by the distractions of the past year.  I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop that none of the 3 bidders can commit to finish in 2022 and, oh by the way, it will cost 150m and we don’t know where it’s coming from.

    • Andrea May 11, 2021 (2:32 pm)

      @Harold Smith – Exactly!

    • KBear May 11, 2021 (3:19 pm)

      And stop bringing up non-comparable examples as evidence that it’s taking too long. 

    • Matt P May 12, 2021 (12:02 am)

      Losing hours of our lives every day sitting in traffic in nitpicking?  Pollution caused to neighborhoods from idling traffic is nitpicking?

    • DC May 12, 2021 (9:09 am)

      So we should just trust the government and not ask any questions. They are flawless humans who couldn’t possibly be underprioritizing, underfunding. No way they aren’t creating needless red tape or working inefficiently. We deserve answers to these questions even if we aren’t experts. 

    • Experience May 12, 2021 (1:00 pm)

      I’m a structural engineer and I actually have, on a bridge as a matter of fact.  The project was also somewhat urgent.This process takes time but there over been little to almost no progress over quite a long time.  Approaching a year and a half.The city is dragging this out for no apparent or declared reason and NOT being honest or transparent.This could have been finished in 18 months max.  There’s a multitude of precedent with similar bridge repair and replacement worldwide.  I did this for a living for 32 years  and this situation is beyond unacceptable.The citizens who actually care need to start holding sdot accountable.  Right now.

      • KK May 13, 2021 (7:58 pm)

        Experience – thank you for your informed and qualified reply !!

  • Alki Heights May 11, 2021 (2:19 pm)

           I’m wondering if the delay to get this bridge fixed has anything to do with getting money from the Biden administration to help us ( the city )  pay for it?  It is a lot a money we’re talking about.

    • Bronson May 12, 2021 (6:32 am)

      I suspect it’s more likely that the delay is simply SDOT running out the clock on the Durkan administration in an attempt to get the next mayor to change the decision so they can build their mega project bridge. 

  • Dan May 11, 2021 (2:37 pm)

    Thank you WSB for the update 

  • Dawson May 11, 2021 (3:03 pm)

    SDOT board: candidate number 1 tell us about yourself and qualifications for completing this project.

    Candidate 1: well we’re a large multi-national civil engineering firm that specializes in tunnel construction.

    SDOT board: candidate number 2 same question.

    Candidate 2: we’re a mid size firm with extensive transportation projects in our portfolio, but this will be our first sizeable aerial structure. We brought along this Lego bridge for the board to better understand how we would tackle your project…

    SDOT board: oooo, Lego. Whispers amongst themselves, head nodding. Candidate 3 in the interest of saving time you may forgo your interview. We’ve made out decision.

  • Jort May 11, 2021 (3:07 pm)

    Just because your choice to drive a car is now slightly more inconvenient does not mean you get to dictate when and how a complicated and expensive repair will be done. The bridge will be repaired at the right pace and that is absolutely how it will be.  If traffic is frustrating you, I strongly encourage you to acclimate to the reality that biking and riding the bus will be literally faster than driving for at least the next full year and there is nothing that anybody is possibly going to be able to do to change that incontrovertible fact.

  • CarDriver May 11, 2021 (3:17 pm)

    Harold Smith. Please tell us why “we don’t get it”

  • Gatewood May 11, 2021 (3:22 pm)

    Not to be a total simpleton but would it be possible to have contractual language for the selected contractor that if the bridge falls, say, decades short of the stated lifetime of use that the contractor is financially on the hook? It’s still not clear to me why we’re eating the cost from the previous go-round resulting in needing repair decades sooner than projected?

    • Peter May 11, 2021 (4:24 pm)

      Because no sane contractor would agree to wildly unreasonable contract terms. 

    • WS New Guy May 11, 2021 (7:58 pm)

      When the bridge was built in the early ‘80s, the projections for daily traffic, for life of bridge, was totally underestimated. 100K daily average during last 10 years was unimaginable back then, and not even thought of.  What really pushed the cause of the bridge stress/damage, was the bumper to bumper traffic, in the weekly am/pm commute, with trucks, large busses and all those SUVs moving slowly on top of the bridge. Way too much weight on a mostly concrete structure.No contractor will ever guarantee any construction, under these type of circumstances. You can blame SDOT all you want, though it really comes down to one person per car mode of travel.  We did it to ourselves.America, you gotta love it, most spoiled people on earth. Grow up and quit the whining, or move out of West Seattle.When bridge is repaired, they should only allow two lanes, for both east and west, will get more life out of the repair. 

  • THD3 May 11, 2021 (3:50 pm)

    Come on Seattle – “quick this process up” a lot please.  We can do so much better than this.  The road rage, the accidents, the speed demons and the long back ups is sheer hell.  

  • Steven teeter May 11, 2021 (3:53 pm)

    I’m impacted due to the increased traffic on 1st bridge. Is there any reason the HOV lane North bound over the bridge should not be used for ALL north bound traffic to help all the merging traffic from West Seattle and Northbound 599 going over the bridge?    

  • onion May 11, 2021 (3:55 pm)

    I am content with the current progress as long as we don’t have to wait five or six years for the bridge to reopen. I hope they do it right and fast, otherwise the peanut gallery will be complaining about a solution that was slapped together without consideration for quality or public safety.

  • old timer May 11, 2021 (3:59 pm)

    Saw something on TV the other night. Program was Modern Marvels.  They were discussing towers and the Space Needle was one of the featured towers. .  It went from a sketch on paper to completion in 18 months.Made by Pacific Car and Foundry, all the pieces were test fitted before the final assembly was made.  Interesting that this was, for it’s time, completely new construction yet it was completed in less time than we spent watching and monitoring the West Seattle Bridge decay into uselessness.  Now we dither on what to do. What happened to our city?

    • KBear May 11, 2021 (6:36 pm)

      Good grief, you think the Space Needle is comparable in ANY WAY to the West Seattle Bridge? It is an elevator with a restaurant and gift shop on top, not a a multi-lane thoroughfare carrying thousands of heavy vehicles back and forth every day.

  • redblack May 11, 2021 (4:00 pm)

    harold smith: there is a lot of foot-dragging going on here, and our patience is wearing mighty thin. and the fact that SDOT decided to go ahead with the delridge replacement while the high bridge is closed is just plain stupid.

    in addition to the I-35 comparison, which is apt, when the I-80 to I-580 interchange collapsed in oakland, caltrans had cars on it before the concrete was fully cured. those projects were complete rebuilds. the jeanette williams memorial bridge is a repair.

    SDOT does not appear to have any sense of urgency, and has bungled the west seattle problem badly. once a bid is chosen, the city needs to fast-track this project. three shifts, 24/7, until it’s finished, with an endless budget.

    get it done NOW.

    • H May 11, 2021 (4:35 pm)

      Couldn’t agree more … where is the sense of urgency?    Let’s use stimulus dollars to fast track this project.   But we all know that won’t happen.   The city council I’m sure will spend the stimulus money on various social programs with no accountability.   

      • redblack May 12, 2021 (4:46 pm)

        H: i’m a liberal, and your mention of “various social programs with no accountability” didn’t get by me. make no mistake: the people of seattle are liberal, but our government is accountable only to developers. it’s good for my paycheck, but it’s bad for my city.

        i’m a construction worker. since the bridge closed, i have tried various ways to get to work. water taxis often don’t run early enough. busses often don’t take me within 5 or 10 blocks of where i need to go. lugging my gear on public transportation and then walking to job sites is not feasible, especially in the winter.

        despite the “economic slowdown,” business in this city is booming, and there are a lot of people on the roads again. since light rail is a decade out, working with the pavement that we already have in place is the only option.

        someone – probably a real a-hole – needs to take charge here.

    • reed May 12, 2021 (8:03 am)

      As has been stated on here countless times before (and is a fact), you cannot compare federal projects with immediate access to a wide variety of funding to a city project. Additionally, which has also been stated on here countless times before (and also is a fact), determining the cause of the bridge failure, designing multiple repair options for it, and modeling the effects of those repair options, are all time consuming and often take more time than new construction. 

  • Peter May 11, 2021 (4:28 pm)

    I’m loving all the armchair engineers that are sooooo sure _everything_ the city is doing is wrong, despite their own total lack of any relevant education or experience. I know nothing is more convincing to me than arguing from a stance of compete ignorance!

  • Scubafrog May 11, 2021 (4:38 pm)

    I’m sure it will be ready by 2023.  Gotta love the commutes, amirite!  I’m learning even more compassion, patience, love, being and mindfulness.So if one feels grouchy in traffic, explore that – embrace the irritation.  What’s the base emotion driving said irritation?  We can all become stronger by embracing our emotions, and exploring them – Instead of reacting on them.Peace and Love WS

  • Smittytheclown May 11, 2021 (4:44 pm)

    What’s the rush?

    • redblack May 12, 2021 (4:51 pm)

      how ya’ been, smitty?

  • Chris May 11, 2021 (5:22 pm)

    This has been one of most ridiculous things I’ve seen. Over a year later we are still “talking”?   Yet the good people of WS still deal with the headache of commuting to our jobs while navigating detour routes that have been continually under construction as well.   

  • Mj May 11, 2021 (5:31 pm)

    The pandemic has mitigated the traffic impact to date, that by this fall the full traffic impact will hit and will be further exacerbated when T5 starts operating.  

    The fact is that SDoT had a very capable Contractor doing the stablelization work.  This Contractor could have already been working on the bridge on the base enhancing, yes expediting the work costs more.  The City has failed to truly prioritize the bridge repair to keep costs down!  

  • TJ May 11, 2021 (5:45 pm)

    To add on to Old Timers comment, a developer on the news a few weeks ago discussing the space needle construction said that building the same exact thing now would take almost 4 years, from design to opening. It was built over 50 years ago in 18 months. There definitely is a “Seattle process” that just bogs things down. The lack of urgency is appalling to those who have to deal with this on a daily basis. Could it be incompetent politicians and people in charged at SDOT? If this was the Brooklyn bridge you can guarantee the fix would have been expedited, and I don’t care about whether that is a state or federal bridge. Contractors and engineers would be on it, just like this bridge. The I-5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed not long ago and there was zero delay in getting it rebuilt. I won’t be around when it reopens probably the beginning of 2023 in reality, partly because of the Seattle process 

    • bill May 11, 2021 (9:50 pm)

      Oh please. The Skagit River bridge was trivial. Get a grasp on reality.

  • fledger May 11, 2021 (6:05 pm)

    Demo the WS bridge and instead fast track light rail and (or) the gondola idea, along with additional water taxi services, more bikeways, and bus improvements. Such expensive new infrastructure for cars seems backwards. There are roads out of WS, and with other good transit options, dependence on cars will go down.

  • Joan May 11, 2021 (8:45 pm)

    :(  all this time I thought the bridge repair had begun!

  • Joe Z May 11, 2021 (9:31 pm)

    We’re on island time now, it will get done when it gets done. Crack open a cold one and enjoy the peace and quiet. When offices reopen people will take the bus downtown like they did in the before times. 

  • Mj May 11, 2021 (10:34 pm)

    Joe Z what bus?  I would be happy to take a bus to downtown but no midday or weekend service is provided where I live, when I moved to the area there was good all day and weekend service, and there are many other WS residents with a similar lack of service.

    • Reed May 12, 2021 (6:53 am)

      Ride a bike.

      • redblack May 12, 2021 (4:26 pm)

        ride a bike? to northgate? with 60 lbs. of of construction gear?

        wow. why didn’t i think of that?

        • Reed May 12, 2021 (8:20 pm)

          My comment was specifically for MJ, who has claimed to bike commute in the past during fair weather. You know, someone that has another option and could free up the road for someone like you who has to drive.

  • Phil May 12, 2021 (10:56 am)

    The team constructed the $234 million bridge three months ahead of schedule and on budget.They replaced the whole I-35 bridge for $234 m. We get bandaids for $72m. Not worth the whole debate – but I-35 was an interstate bridge with federal dollars backing it – and a hell of a lot of political capital due to it being in Minnesota. Sorry folks but we’ll all just need to allow the snail pace to continue. 

Sorry, comment time is over.