(Bridge update starts 1 hour, 9 minutes in)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
What SDOT calls the West Seattle Bridge Program has ranged so far beyond the bridge itself, today’s Community Task Force meeting was more than an hour old before the bridge’s status finally got the spotlight.
We’ve already published three updates on other matters that preceded the bridge progress report:
–West Marginal Way bicycle-lane decision
–WMW/Highland Park Way intersection work starting Saturday
–Low-bridge access status
So now – here’s what’s up with the bridge-repair planning.
West Seattle Bridge Program director Heather Marx recapped that the repair design has reached 60 percent, with the plans in the hands of contractor Kraemer North America, with whom they’ll work to get to 90 percent design in “late summer,” and full design in fall. Marx recapped what’s planned for the work – strengthening the bridge beyond the center span – “from the edge of the tail span through the center span and to the other side” – and the ground beneath part of it:
She also showed new schematic looks at what the repairs will resemble, inside and out, with more post-tensioning steel cables and more carbon-fiber wrapping:
“There is a great deal of engineering that needs to go into adding this strengthening equipment to the bridge,” she said, explaining that those saying the design “takes so long” need to understand that changing one part of the bridge requires planning “compensation” for the other parts. If planning and engineering aren’t done thoroughly and painstakingly enough, something like the Miami condo collapse might result, she warned.
Asked by CTF co-chair Greg Nickels about what the internal carbon-fiber wrapping will do, Marx said it will convey added “rigidity,” and likened it to “wallpaper.” As for the schedule, still nothing more specific than “mid-2022” for reopening, but today’s briefing got slightly more specific along the way. For example – final design is expected in October.
Some “early work packages” will start in September; work platforms will go up on the bridge in November; the major work will happen after the first of the year and continue into the second quarter. Low-bridge work, which is also part of the contract with Kraemer, will also ensue next year, though Marx assured the CTF that the high bridge is the main event. She added that no closures are expected for the low-bridge work, at least for surface traffic, but communications-system work yet to be done this year will likely require some closures. The overall timeline as it exists now for the high and low bridge work:
Also ahead – some maintenance on the Spokane Street Viaduct (the bridge east of the 99 overpass), a “deck scan” that will include reviewing its paving.
CTF member Deb Barker from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition and Morgan Community Association wondered about pavement conditions toward the I-5 end; the state is reviewing that, said SDOT’s Trevor Partap.
Will the contractor brief the Task Force when the schedule is more refined? Yes, said Marx. Can the bridge open in a limited capacity before the full repair completion? asked Liz Powell of West Seattle Bridge NOW, saying some in the “structural engineering community” speculated it could, No, said Marx, countering that those not directly involved in the project shouldn’t be speculating. SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe added that doing the repairs requires some opening of holes in the deck. He also said that the engineers involved in the project recognize that it’s an emergency and are working “as quickly as possible.”
City Councilmember Lisa Herbold then said she continued to receive many emails from constituents who are skeptical that anything is happening. So she wondered whether a big banner could be hung on the bridge along the lines of “Work is happening inside.” Marx said right now it’s mostly engineering/planning work that’s under way but once they start on-site work, “that’s a great idea.”
NEXT WEEK’S COMMUNITY MEETING: The meeting also touched on the plan for an online community meeting about the bridge, announced last week, happening one week from today, at 5:30 pm Wednesday, July 21st, SDOT’s Danielle Friedman said they’ve been going all-out to be sure that people know about it, including 50,000 postal mailers. They’re making a “video featuring community members” as part of what’ll be presented. At today’s meeting, they asked task force members for their thoughts on what they’ll be asked. CTF member Barker said the number-one discussion point remains “what’s taking so long?” (Info for watching/participating at the July 21st meeting is here.)
NEXT CTF MEETING: 4 pm August 12th, online. Questions or comments can be sent any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.