(WSB photos/video. Above, the repurposed shipping container covering entrance to bridge interior)
By Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
A year and a half after closing the West Seattle Bridge, SDOT is giving tours while getting ready for repairs. Among those who are being offered a firsthand look, according to an SDOT email shared with us by a source, are “members of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, Technical Advisory Panel, and our governmental partners and supporters.” Plus, this afternoon – the media.
We were up on the bridge five weeks ago, but that was part of a visit by dignitaries from D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. Today’s tour was intended solely to give reporters and photographers (attendance was limited to one person per media organization, so it was one or the other) a firsthand look. That included another view inside the bridge, where most of the upcoming work will happen:
Among the SDOT reps leading the tour, roadway-structures director Matt Donahue, the man who broke the news to city leaders in March 2020 that he’d discovered cracking that necessitated the emergency closure.
Donahue and bridge program director Heather Marx recounted the explanation of “why the bridge broke” (as covered here in August). Once the bridge was stabilized last year, that took care of the cracking problem. Intensive monitoring continues, with a few visible signs on top of the bridge.
Today in fact, some SDOT staff was on the bridge for a monthly monitoring visit (which is in addition to electronic monitors in place that are watched remotely). We talked with Marx about the “early work” that’s been mentioned as starting soon:
We asked Marx for a list of what “early work” is likely to entail:
Ground Penetrating Radar
Carbon Fiber-reinforced Polymer
As was the case when we visited the bridge in August, some work is in evidence now:
(Updated: Crane truck ‘lowering equipment through the deck in to the north center span girder’)
SDOT still isn’t getting any more specific about the projected reopening than “mid-2022.” They’ve said that the contractor was providing schedule estimates as part of design milestones; we asked for that proposed schedule and were told earlier this week by an SDOT spokesperson that “it’s part of an active negotiation with our contractor, so we aren’t releasing it.”
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