2 years without the West Seattle Bridge: Here’s where repairs stand, with concrete hope on the horizon

(WSB photo, this morning)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At 7 pm tonight, it’ll be exactly two years since the city’s emergency shutdown of the crack-plagued West Seattle Bridge, announced just hours before the closure took effect.

There’s still no date for its reopening, and the unavailability of concrete because of a months-long labor dispute has left the long-estimated “mid-2022” in question.

But there’s new hope today that concrete could be flowing soon, in the wake of Teamsters Local 174‘s recent announcement that some striking drivers were willing to return to work to get public projects moving again. SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB, “Our construction contractor is currently in the process of developing a contract with Cadman, and communicating with them about their ability to produce the specialized concrete required for the repair and ensure that it meets the necessary quality specifications.”

Concrete is needed for several aspects of the work but most critically, the added “post-tensioning” – strengthening via steel cables. SDOT says the work to prepare for this is being done now: “This includes drilling holes through the inner walls of the bridge for the post-tensioning strands to pass through, building and positioning forms for the various concrete components that will support and anchor the post-tensioning strands, and installing rebar for these components.” Once concrete is available, the post-tensioning cables themselves will be installed.

We asked what else is currently being done while awaiting concrete: “Right now, crews are focusing on epoxy crack injection and carbon-fiber wrap work at various points of both the bridge’s interior and exterior. This process involves cleaning concrete surfaces that contain cracks and using pumps to inject epoxy into the cracks. Once the epoxy cures, crews smooth the surface and apply carbon-fiber sheets injected with a similar compound.”

As explained when the project manager from the repair contractor, Kraemer North America, briefed the Community Task Force extensively in December (WSB coverage here), maintenance work is under way too. Bergerson says one key component of that involves the bridge’s expansion joints: “Over the past few weeks, we removed and cleaned older joints and are now installing new joints. Once concrete becomes available, we will finish the installation of the new joints that are currently ready for pouring.”

SDOT’s bridge-project director Heather Marx has said they can’t estimate a date for reopening until the concrete pours are happening, but as of her last public briefing, she was still hopeful “mid-2022” was in reach. On the occasion of the closure’s two-year anniversary, Marx tells WSB, “We haven’t missed a day of work on the West Seattle Bridge in the two years since it closed. This project is – and has been – Seattle’s number one transportation emergency and priority. I’m so thankful and appreciative of my West Seattle family, friends, and neighbors who weathered this closure with our team and me. And I’m grateful to folks in Highland Park, South Park, Delridge, and Georgetown who’ve been sharing their neighborhoods with detour traffic for so long. In the bingo game of challenging circumstances we’ve all been living through these past two years, I didn’t have ‘concrete strike’ on my board. We’re managing that with our contractor, and I’m looking forward to getting concrete soon. Right now, our primary focus is to keep moving forward on every inch of bridge repairs that we can. Only one type of repair system is waiting on concrete.”

All of our bridge-closure-related coverage since March 23, 2020 – 271 stories and counting – is archived here, newest to oldest.

57 Replies to "2 years without the West Seattle Bridge: Here's where repairs stand, with concrete hope on the horizon"

  • Blbl March 23, 2022 (10:59 am)

    Oh, you didn’t have “concrete strike” on your bingo card? How cute. This isn’t a game and it’s not a freaking blessing in disguise so our community can withstand adversity together. It’s the city’s complete and utter failure. People are suffering and the city’s response has been nothing but offensive this entire two years. 

    • My two cents March 23, 2022 (12:42 pm)

      Blbl – how is the concrete strike the responsibility of the city?

      • Barton March 23, 2022 (1:30 pm)

        I think the point is that if the City had acted competently and with any sense of urgency instead of dragging its feet, dithering with public surveys, useless PR and generally delaying making a decision that is the City’s job to make, the bridge work would have been started and completed long before the concrete strike occurred.

      • Blbl March 23, 2022 (1:51 pm)

        Red herring. Keeping the bridge open and safe is the city’s responsibility. That’s enough.

    • Duffy March 23, 2022 (1:01 pm)


    • Jethro Marx March 23, 2022 (2:15 pm)

      I am curious what you mean by ‘suffering.’ Could you possibly be talking about it taking longer than in years past to drive somewhere? The city is plodding along through the already slow process of engineering large infrastructure just like any normal human would expect: rather inefficiently, rather over-expensively, and peppered with delays from a melange of public comment periods, weather, and supply issues. Government bureaucracy is annoying but it’s just not very interesting to complain about.  Most of us got bored long ago with the bickering over whether internet commenters or engineers should be in charge of how to fix a bridge. If having to take a detour feels like suffering in our world we are living a pretty easy life.

      • Blbl March 23, 2022 (4:15 pm)

        No, Jethro, I’m not talking about It taking longer to get somewhere. By suffering, I mean my doctor’s appointment being canceled because I was late after the 1st Ave bridge opened and it taking another 2 months before I could be seen for an extremely painful condition. I mean friends and neighbors who have been involved in car crashes directly caused by the detour. I mean real depression experienced by kids I know who were told their friends would not come to their birthday party because their parents didn’t want to make the trip to West Seattle because of the bridge. I mean people losing their jobs and livelihood because of businesses that shut down. I mean the hundreds, if not thousands, of extra dollars spent on gas over the past 730 days to drive the additional miles because of the detour. I mean medical treatments and screenings delayed. I’m glad you haven’t suffered, but many others have. 

        • WS Guy March 23, 2022 (5:25 pm)

          Solid reasoning, BLBL.

        • Jethro Marx March 23, 2022 (6:11 pm)

          I haven’t had those bridge-related things happen to me, it’s true. I’m sorry you have suffered. I don’t think it is accurate to imply that depression is caused by such childhood events as an ill-attended birthday party. At any rate, I think the uncertainty and randomness of life is scary to us all. We can hardly expect SDOT to fix that for us.

          • deathfromabovekitty March 24, 2022 (8:37 am)

            Well then that’s it I guess! None of it has happened to you and your definition of suffering doesn’t include depressing childhood events. Noted.Let it go everyone, Jethro says this is fine!

    • Really March 23, 2022 (4:15 pm)

      Bibl is spot on.  This incompetence is no longer amusing. 

      Jethro, what if you’re in an ambulance having a heart attack with the lower bridge up? Bet you’d like the bridge repaired. That sounds like suffering to me.

      • WSB March 23, 2022 (4:25 pm)

        To this point, medics are in communication with the bridge tenders – I hear this on the scanner regarding emergency calls – so they know not to open the bridge (if marine traffic is waiting or approaching) until the transport has crossed. However, I have heard a case or two where responders dispatched from the other side of the bay have had to wait because the bridge was already open.

        • Really March 23, 2022 (5:33 pm)

          I am a first responder and we have had several instances where we could not get the bridge down fast enough or could not get around the traffic jam from the raised bridge. Very sad.  10 or 15 minutes can really save a life so I guess if the bridge had been fixed…The repair should’ve been considered urgent.sad.

          • Jim March 25, 2022 (11:23 am)

            Really shocked to hear that! You’d think that they could make an exception for ambulances to go across the West Seattle bridge. It’s sturdy enough for all of the heavy trucks and equipment and the workers drive their vehicles out there on a daily basis. I’ve been out there a few times to do photography and I think they’re over exaggerating the potential danger of being on the bridge since they have people out there daily

  • Delridge neighbor March 23, 2022 (11:36 am)

    Party on the West Seattle bridge soon! Bring your own concrete BYOC

  • A-Red March 23, 2022 (11:54 am)

    Here to share a vote of confidence in Heather Marx. I believe the city HAS done all they can to expedite repairs and manage through a challenging situation. Quite frankly, there was and is no ‘right answer’ how to address this problem, and any other path would have resulted in equal (perhaps even more) negative commentary from the community.

    My big takeaway from all of this is that 60% of the people who complain the loudest are usually those with the least knowledge and understanding of complex problems (and not to say the knowledge is unobtainable, rather that those people can’t be bothered). The other 40% who complain the loudest do so for selfish reason, mostly because, well, the Earth orbits around their own heads.

    So, Heather, if you’re reading: you’ve done a tremendous job under trying circumstances. Same as you, I look forward to the day the bridge reopens and this problem is behind us.

    • PP March 23, 2022 (12:37 pm)

      Amen. Thanks Heather and team.

      • Barton March 23, 2022 (1:37 pm)

        Party of two, your table is ready.   Honestly,  I can’t see any explanatory circumstances that would render the City’s response to the bridge situation anything other than bumbling  and inept, topped off by the suggestion for a generally unwanted “celebration.”.   I have no idea if Ms. Marx  should shoulder a disproportionate share of the blame.  However, her understanding and appearing to care about community needs skills were sorely lacking.

    • Duffy March 23, 2022 (1:05 pm)

      I’m not going to knock her specifically. We’ve been at this too long. My biggest gripe now and probably for eternity is that it took waaaaaay to damn long to determine fix vs. replace, and my opinion is that city leadership were able to duck responding to this like the emergency that it is because of an unprecedented pandemic. It should not have taken a year-plus to determine fix vs. replace. I’ll probably get flamed by many of you on here, but it should not have and I’ll never be convinced otherwise.

      • StupidinSeattle March 23, 2022 (3:19 pm)

        …and even if someone thinks the city taking over two years to fix the bridge was okay and best effort, I still fault SDOT for not taking corrective action during the 6-7 years that they spent watching the cracks grow.  This situation should never have developed into a total, emergency shutdown by the city.

        • Really March 23, 2022 (4:20 pm)


      • PP March 23, 2022 (4:38 pm)

        Year-plus to determine fix vs. replace? Bridge went down March 2020, decision was made Nov. 2020. My biggest gripe is people exaggerating simple things like this so that they can complain. How about we give the folks working on this the benefit of the doubt.

      • MyThruppence March 23, 2022 (5:03 pm)

        Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall hearing a single time that the pandemic was to blame for the two year timeframe. I DID hear that they needed to go through a complete seasonal cycle  (118 daytime temps to 15 degree nights) so they could make the best decision with regards to repair/replace. I believe it to be a ‘do you want it fast, or do you want it right’ type of scenario. Let’s just get the concrete poured so we can all go back to anxiously watching our calendars.

        • Chemist March 23, 2022 (6:28 pm)

          The only place I ever saw mention of requiring a complete season of temperature monitoring data was from comments on this blog.  From the SDOT official statements/presentations, I only recall that they were actively monitoring temperature cycles in order to compare their models to the actual bridge expansion/contraction.

        • CAM March 23, 2022 (7:33 pm)

          Right. I’m a little tired of reading people yelling things that are inaccurate just to be mad and yell. The bridge cracks weren’t ignored. They followed the advice of the consultants and experts they had and took the corrective action recommended. It didn’t work to prevent more significant damage from occurring. That’s not because they ignored it. They didn’t dither over whether to repair or replace for a year, they made a decision in like 6 months and made stabilizations during that period. They then followed the advice of the engineers and observed the stability of those immediate repairs they had made for a full year. They then got started on the actual repairs. Let’s deal with reality. 

  • Edina March 23, 2022 (12:14 pm)

    After 2 years of dealing with this I am moving out of West Seattle. I love it here but can’t even afford the rent prices especially when it seems like we’re on an island. I can no longer tolerate it taking 30 minutes to get off the peninsula and onto the highway. Sure, it gets backed up all over the city during rush hour but not miles of bottlenecked traffic that barely inches along. On top of the bridge headaches, now the city is sending out $237 tickets from photo enforcement along 35th Ave. Guess they need the revenue to pay for the bridge. 

    • My two cents March 23, 2022 (12:45 pm)

      Edina – please see the following for information on the cameras, the rationale. https://www.seattle.gov/police/community-policing/red-light-cameras

    • foop March 23, 2022 (1:04 pm)

      Sounds like you’re speeding in a school zone, as that’s the only speed camera on 35th. Not doing that would prevent those tickets.

    • sw March 23, 2022 (1:25 pm)

      If you lived here pre-pandemic and pre-bridge closure, you are well aware that traffic out of WS on commute mornings routinely would be 30-45 minutes to get off the rock and to another major freeway.  What changed was the route and the disruption to neighborhoods.  Time will tell what traffic post-pandemic will be like when the bridge reopens.  As for the $237 tickets…  seems like there is a sure fire way to avoid those.

      • trickycoolj March 23, 2022 (10:55 pm)

        Some of us moved here because the commute was 5 miles or less to Harbor Island and Georgetown because they’re both total transit black holes. Now some days that 10 minute commute takes an hour one way because literally everyone is now funneled over the bridge next to my office. We used to be able to come home on lunch break. I could leave for work with 20 min and have time to spare before my first meeting of the day. After seeing what the neighbor’s house sold for we can do a lot better elsewhere in a 60 minute commute radius. 

    • Auntie March 23, 2022 (5:36 pm)

      The photo enforcement at Thistle street is for red-light runners, of which you are obviously one.

  • CEMENTQUESTIONS March 23, 2022 (12:30 pm)

    What’s the offer that is being rejected, and the federal labor laws claiming to be in violation? Looking at the current table it’s $44+hr for cement truck drivers until 2024. Are the cement companies not paying the contract wages? https://www.agcwa.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/TEAMSTERS-2021-2024-Pink-Sheet.pdf

  • CarDriver March 23, 2022 (12:35 pm)

    A-Red. Educate us. If this same scenario had happened in any of the 49 other states tell us why none of them could have/would have been moving any faster

    • A-Red March 23, 2022 (5:08 pm)

      Sorry Squire, didn’t say it wouldn’t/couldn’t happen quicker elsewhere.

      If you’re anxious to learn something though, look up the word “variables.” Once you wrap your head around that term, ask yourself what factors could vary state to state, and project to project that might influence time required to complete that project.

      Could SDOT and WSDOT have skipped the whole conversation about repair or replace and gone straight to work? Maybe, but I don’t think that’s the best course of action when spending shiploads of money. I do think though that “due diligence” doesn’t always look like “work” to the commuter stuck on West Marginal.

      • Roms March 23, 2022 (7:07 pm)

        Due diligence… It just took SDOT two years to realize that, hey, the train crossing at the 5-way intersection is causing severe havoc at times. When it comes to the bridge, it’s mostly gross incompetence rather than due diligence. (Remember when the low bridge was stuck open a few months ago? Same thing.)

  • nobridge March 23, 2022 (1:24 pm)

    I prefer not to have the bridge- less traffic and quiet streets.Make West Seattle an island!!

    • AMD March 23, 2022 (2:01 pm)

      Peninsula.  White Center is real!

    • YESBRIDGE March 23, 2022 (3:04 pm)

      To NOBRIDGE: The “less traffic and quiet streets” are not because the bridge has gone out, it’s because of the pandemic. The traffic has simply moved to other streets, and the reason your street may be quiet is because more people are working from home due to covid. It’s just coincidence that the bridge outage and the pandemic happened at the exact time, so I can see why you’ve conflated the two. So are you perhaps just pro-covid, and not pro-bridge outage?

    • hbb March 23, 2022 (5:30 pm)

      As a White Center resident, I can assure you the absence of the West Seattle Bridge does not mean less traffic and quiet streets. While much of the region has enjoyed a bit of a traffic vacation during the pandemic, traffic for those of us south of West Seattle is worse than ever. 

    • Really March 23, 2022 (6:56 pm)

      Wow that’s selfish nobridge. Would you like a bridge if you were dying and getting to a hospital in time would save your life?west Seattle has NO HOSPITAL or trauma center.I cannot believe you said that. 
      As a first responder who races people to the hospital I cannot believe what you said.

      Thank you so much for covering this wsb and for allowing others to possibly be educated a bit on reality.

    • Pessoa March 23, 2022 (7:40 pm)

      nobridge:  I assume you are being at least partially tongue-in-cheek.  Without the “un-bridge-ical” cord to the outside world  I feel like Jim Carrey from “The Truman Show.”   

  • Elton March 23, 2022 (1:53 pm)

    Just wanted to say “thank you” to WSB for the continuing coverage on this! Without you navigating these details I feel pretty confident most of us would be totally out of the loop on what’s happening with the bridge.

  • Babs March 23, 2022 (3:08 pm)

    I’m hopeful and think the WS bridge will open in mid 2022 on schedule. Our State sadly has never been outstanding with major projects like this. Whenever I met new people that have moved here – one comment is “what is up with your roads,” i.e paving and potholes. ( Pothole issues for years BEFORE  that major snow storm this winter that really did some streets bad.) I have to agree with them. I do have some fear of a big earthquake stopping this project in its tracks. I hope you are aware of those hollow columns under I5. What? Well do some googling research.WSDOT officials have known that the columns are vulnerable for at least 15 years. Engineers have known for twice as long.It made sense at the time in the early 1960’s to build them. The hollow columns are nearly as strong as solid ones—at least when the earth isn’t moving.”Especially in the early 60s, earthquakes just weren’t a thought to most bridge engineers,” So fingers crossed any big quake doesn’t happen soon. Meanwhile – thanks to the workers on our bridge. They are trying. 

  • Tar N Feather March 23, 2022 (5:09 pm)

    Also thank you to the WSB for the coverage.Also will be like the others to keep the property and rent it out while living elsewhere. Wish the best for the city’s future, really wish that West Seattle would have been made it’s own city back in the 80s. At least then having the bridge down might not of seemed so bad. 

  • Notend March 23, 2022 (7:48 pm)

     In 2017 SDOT closed 2 lanes (northbound to all vehicles, southbound to trucks) of the 4th Ave S bridge over the railroad yard south of Costco.   In 2017 they said it could take up to a year to fix.  In April of 2020  the SDOT Blog say’s it’s still working on the plan and will update the schedule when the plan is complete.  I vote no confidence. 

    • jeff March 24, 2022 (9:01 am)

      That is because BNSF will not give them right of entry below the bridge to do the work. Know the facts, you sound ignorant.

      • Notend March 24, 2022 (11:56 am)

         Yeah, I’ve herd it’s rare to have a bridge go over railroad tracks.  

  • Rodger Jackson March 23, 2022 (8:26 pm)

    Like I said before it took them from 1981 to 1984 less than 3 years to build the ENTIRE Bridge it’s been two years to try and get the bridge fixed (one little section of it) but because of their incompetence on maintenance and it’s still not fixed and they want to throw a party for that give me a break

    • WSB March 23, 2022 (9:09 pm)

      Just for accuracy’s sake: No, the city is not who’s proposing throwing a party. As we’ve been reporting, it’s community members, raising private funding. The city is not involved in the planning at all. If the eventual proposal is for something to happen ON the bridge, SDOT will have to approve that for safety’s sake, but that’s the extent of their involvement to date.

  • 1994 March 23, 2022 (10:16 pm)

    I am eagerly waiting for the new SDOT director to be hired. Maybe some of the current staff will be moving on or changing roles. “In the bingo game of challenging circumstances we’ve all been living through these past two years, I didn’t have ‘concrete strike’ on my board.” What a lousy comment! I certainly hope the SDOT doesn’t view  the maintaining of our infrastructure as a “bingo game of challenging circumstances”.  They better be peering, daily, into their crystal ball for basic maintenance needs and take action promptly. SDOT should do better for all Seattle residents. 

  • mem March 24, 2022 (7:55 am)

    I have found Heather Marx consistently flippant, condescending and hard of hearing. I had hoped she would have followed Sam Zimbabwe out the door. Regardless of all the rhetoric, this closure has been a HUGE financial hardship for West Seattle residents and businesses. It cannot be reopened fast enough.

    • Jort March 24, 2022 (2:17 pm)

      If you think Heather Marx has been “flippant, condescending and hard of hearing,” just wait until you start reading comments from unknowledgeable keyboard warriors literally instructing SDOT on how to run a one-of-a-kind, multi-million dollar bridge repair. Heather Marx, it seems to me, has been more than graceful when facing a bunch of people who have literally zero knowledge about this topic, other than how badly their feelings are hurt that they have to sit in traffic. 

      • 1994 March 24, 2022 (7:05 pm)

         Heather Marx, it seems to me, has been more than graceful when facing a bunch of people who have literally zero knowledge about this topic, other than how badly their feelings are hurt that they have to sit in traffic. Um, over the last 2 years more than feelings have been hurt Jort. No matter how well you write, which you do quite well, your comments can be  as tone deaf as Heather Marx.

  • Keenan Cottone March 24, 2022 (8:03 am)

    Wait, there’s an “East Seattle?”  That must be the ancient land I’ve heard elders claim was once connected to our beloved island.  I for one think it’s a myth made up to scare children.

  • Notend March 24, 2022 (11:13 am)

    I’d think we’d all like the truth. That would alleviate most of the armchair quarterbacking. So far all I’ve herd is “we monitored the cracking” and “We know pier 18 bearing has failed”… for 8 years. I don’t by the excuse that SDOT has given “well, um,,, you know,,, it was built in the 80’s”. Something was done wrong. Either something in this document is a mistake https://www.pci.org/PCI_Docs/Design_Resources/Guides_and_manuals/references/bridge_design_manual/JL-84-July-August_Segmental_Box_Girders_for_the_High_Level_West_Seattle_Bridge.pdf

    Or it was poor upkeep and maintenance.  Just tell us why it failed, that you’re sorry,,, and that it won’t happen again. Nobody believes it’s because it was built way back in the 80’s 

  • Noonan Mark W. March 24, 2022 (11:14 pm)

    This Strike will be in it’s fifth month one week from Friday.  I’m surprised the city has let go on this long. 

Sorry, comment time is over.