WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Concrete pouring begins

(SDOT photo)

10:30 AM: Just in from SDOT:

Concrete trucks arrived early this morning on the West Seattle Bridge. The first pours are for new expansion joints as part of major maintenance work being done while the bridge is closed.

Following the expansion joint concrete pours, we’ll then pour concrete inside the bridge for the improved post-tensioning system that will provide additional strength for the repaired bridge. These bridge repairs require 245 cubic yards – or about 30 truckloads of specialized concrete. Once the concrete structures are done, they’ll be capable of holding more than 20 million pounds of force for decades to come.

While we’re encouraged that our construction crews have begun the concrete work delayed by the strike, we now need to see how the deliveries will go and manage the pours for the next month or so. After the pours are done and the work inspected, we’ll be able to revisit the project schedule and share an update about the timing of the reopening, originally scheduled for mid-2022.

It’s now six weeks past the February 20th deadline the city originally cited for needing concrete in order to stay on that schedule. The labor dispute between concrete drivers and suppliers hasn’t been resolved yet, but some drivers represented by striking Teamsters Local 174 recently said they would return to work for some suppliers in order to get things moving on the West Seattle Bridge and other major public projects. SDOT’s contractor Kraemer North America was then in talks with supplier Cadman to ensure the necessary specialty mix would be available, and then to determine a schedule. We’ll be asking a few followup questions.

12:39 PM: Still awaiting followup answers. In the meantime, Mayor Bruce Harrell has issued a statement – here’s an excerpt:

Reopening the West Seattle Bridge is the top transportation priority for my team and getting concrete today is an encouraging step that brings us closer to that goal. Throughout this strike, I’m continuing to have intense discussions with both sides to urge a fair resolution to this contract dispute. I want to again thank the Teamsters for taking the extraordinary, good-faith action of returning to work with three concrete companies. Despite those companies having no existing agreement with our contractor to work on the bridge, my administration immediately engaged to identify which business could meet our specific needs and worked relentlessly to help facilitate concrete delivery. Thank you to Cadman for their willingness to assist and help expedite a solution.

West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold has published a similar statement – read it here.

5:24 PM: SDOT has sent replies to our followup questions. They’ve confirmed that Cadman committed to all 245 yards of concrete the bridge project needs. Will the concrete situation add to the repair-project cost? “We’re hoping this doesn’t add extra cost, but won’t know for sure until all the concrete is delivered. We don’t anticipate any cost increases to the overall contract, which includes built in contingency that could be released to cover additional costs if needed.” Anything else causing delays right now? No, SDOT says.

P.S. The next major public briefing on the bridge will be at the Community Task Force meeting at 4 pm April 21st.

48 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Concrete pouring begins"

  • Mike April 5, 2022 (11:09 am)

    About time!!  One piece missing from the update:  After the pour and inspections, how long does the concrete need to set up and be fully ready for use?

    • CarDriver April 5, 2022 (12:54 pm)

      I believe i heard 2 full weeks to harden the special mix. After that they can tighten up the cables they put in

    • MALOU April 6, 2022 (9:10 am)

      18 days

  • Larry April 5, 2022 (11:10 am)

    Free at last, free at last….almost.

  • WS Res April 5, 2022 (11:27 am)

    Exciting! BTW, those convinced that a vote for Harrell means issues like this won’t happen again:  Harrell nixed issuing bonds for infrastructure repair this year. 

    • WSB April 5, 2022 (11:59 am)

      That is from a very, very long news release by Councilmember Pedersen. I did not have the opportunity to try to distill it but for those interested:

    • Mark April 5, 2022 (12:28 pm)

      So agree with your comment on Harrell. He is doing a great job so far. It is equally crucial that we vote out Herbold.

      • CAM April 5, 2022 (3:01 pm)

        I think you misread the tone. 

      • WS Neighbor April 5, 2022 (4:19 pm)

        Totally agree!  You are so RIGHT.  Mayor Harrell is doing a great job. CM Herbold must GO!  

        • WestSeattleResident April 5, 2022 (6:55 pm)

          +1 on Herbold needing to go. Her priorities are wrong and she would rather do virtue signaling then actually make a difference.

    • WS Res April 6, 2022 (9:16 am)

      The comments on this post (not just the responses to my previous comment but they’re good examples) are a sociological study in how people just do not bother to actually read things before commenting with their assumptions.  At least read the article I linked to, about Harrell kicking the bridge maintenance can down the road, before cheerleading him out of the opposite side of your mouth from the one you use to blame “Seattle” for the WSB bridge near-failure.   

      It may be too much to ask for folks to actually read links that have been provided, multiple times, to “what the concrete drivers want” (spoiler: specifics about actual wages, not mis-reported aggregates of their wages and benefit costs) or “how is it that some deliveries were agreed upon” (spoiler: the union offered to do some jobs under the previous contract, which the owners STILL refused as an invite to come to the table  until the public pressure got them to relent a little) but it does make you look incredibly ignorant.

      • Frida K April 6, 2022 (9:36 am)

        @WS Res – I wasn’t able to read the article you linked to because the Seattle Times has a paywall. Turns out I’ve already used up my free articles per month. Perhaps you could find another link that’s free?

        • WS Res April 6, 2022 (11:38 am)

          WSB provided a link directly after that to a longer summary.  Also, “Bypass Paywalls for Chrome” works.

      • Ron Swanson April 6, 2022 (10:00 am)

        Praising Harrell for not going along with a half baked plan to issue a bunch of debt for unclear progress on the bridge maintenance backlog is a perfectly reasonable position to take.  Get a new SDOT director in there first, get a comprehensive plan, get as many federal infrastructure dollars as possible.

  • Bridge user April 5, 2022 (11:28 am)

    Great news.

  • bolo April 5, 2022 (11:52 am)

    So who blinked?

  • LPM April 5, 2022 (12:17 pm)

    Thank you dear baby Jesus!

  • Mj April 5, 2022 (12:49 pm)

    This is wonderful news, thank you!

  • Zipda April 5, 2022 (1:34 pm)

    Bridge of sighs.

  • HarborIslandworker April 5, 2022 (2:49 pm)

    I’m glad that it’s almost to the point that the bridge will finally be open. And at last I won’t be restricted from using the Low Bridge. But I do have one question with all the added weight of this concrete what precautions are they putting in place for the roadway underneath. I imagine that this concrete weighs quite a bit and there is only one way off Harbor Island and that’s Almost directly where the cracks were located. I do hope someone’s monitoring this because there are people that use that roadway underneath the bridge. it would be a terrible shame for something to happen now because they are in a rush to get it done…

  • Lucy April 5, 2022 (2:53 pm)


  • Tomas April 5, 2022 (4:34 pm)

    This is great for West Seattle but seems terrible for the unions.  Without pressure from the city for the companies to get an agreement done with the union it seems there’s no incentive to continue negotiations in an expedited sort of way.

    • WS homeowner April 5, 2022 (4:48 pm)

      Are there still negotiations? What is being negotiated? I have yet to see the specific demands by the workers on strike. I hear “we want better benefits” “We want to be paid more” Well, I do too, that’s why im looking for a new job. From what I can see a current mixer driver is getting  paid $44+hr for the next few years:https://www.agcwa.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/TEAMSTERS-2021-2024-Pink-Sheet.pdf

      • WestSeattleResident April 5, 2022 (6:57 pm)

        This is what I never understood. Union concrete drivers are paid extremely well (at the expense of the tax payer) and get healthcare and pensions. Other truck drivers get paid far less despite possessing similar skills. If you want to get paid more, learn an in demand skill or switch jobs to an employer that pays you more. If no one pays you more than you have reached your fair market wage.

        • Michael Bloom April 6, 2022 (4:34 pm)

          I believe you are obtuse in being. Placing a label or salary cap on someone based on a skill level mentality and physically,  it would be my understanding that anyone who has a computer that aids them in their job to be paid far less  and be completely satisfied. The work environments have conditions for comfort and inconvenience,  value in a human work force is equal to all and self worth will benefit all.

    • Zach April 5, 2022 (8:57 pm)

      Concrete is flowing throughout Seattle without the teamsters and yes this work is getting done by other union members thanks to some laborer’s and operators with CDL’s who want to help us stay employed. 174 should wake up, settle up with the suppliers and get back to work; no doubt concrete supply works better with the teamsters driving, but people need to work/build and clearly the teamsters aren’t shutting anything down after 4+ months. 

  • Olivist April 5, 2022 (5:20 pm)

    Probably premature, but when the bridge is finally reopened, can we GET RID OF the NB99 “bus only” lane that lasts for about .3 miles between the on ramp from the WS bridge and the shoulder bus lane on the Dearborn exit?   From everything I saw and experienced, the significant back-ups on the high rise bridge coincided with the addition of that bus lane (and in turn possibly contributed to the increased cracking – although even if correlation can’t show causation).  I think WSB readers even told SDOT that bus lane would create back-ups, but they didn’t listen, nor ever admit they may have been wrong.  They just said they wouldn’t remove it because it would require them to scrape the paint!

    • WSB April 5, 2022 (5:23 pm)

      They have said multiple times that the lane configurations pre-closure will not change post-closure.

      • Olivist April 5, 2022 (10:19 pm)

        Thanks. All comments to that effect (no change to lane configurations) at least that I have seen address only lanes on the west seattle bridge, not on SR99.   I submitted the same question at one of the meetings as well and the written answer again only addressed the lanes in the bridge. 

    • CAM April 5, 2022 (7:54 pm)

      I don’t recall it having anything to do with them not wanting to scrape any paint. I believe they even adjusted it after complaints from SOV drivers. They won’t get rid of it because it’s a bus lane and that’s the point. 

      • Olivist April 5, 2022 (10:26 pm)

        See prior coverage from WSB: https://westseattleblog.com/2019/09/about-the-new-99-bus-lane-we-recognize-theres-been-a-serious-problem/Last paragraph with quote from zimbabwe

        • CAM April 6, 2022 (11:24 am)

          You’re inferring a lot from that partial quote. I don’t think that you’d find Sam Zimbabwe in favor of eliminating bus lanes ever. 

        • WS Commuter April 6, 2022 (12:00 pm)

          If I recall correctly, when they (not sure which organization, SDOT or WSDOT) temporarily removed the bus lane on NB 99 while the tunnel was getting finished up, traffic on the West Seattle Bridge moved so much faster for everyone, busses and sov’s alike.  Was surprised to see the lane come back and everyone gets snarled on the West Seattle Bridge again.Somewhat haunting after seeing the bridge closed down for concrete cracks, I remember sitting in traffic on the bridge in the lane to the NB 99 interchange and feeling the constant rumbling of the bridge below me. Not trying to be dramatic, but the bridge did vibrate heavily enough to feel it every day as traffic was at a near standstill in some areas over the problematic span.Maybe it would be a common-sense approach to remove the bus lane on NB 99 and increase the speed of everyone’s commute?Awaiting the flaming responses about how I’m an evil human for suggesting the bus lane on NB 99 goes away, lol.

    • Reed April 5, 2022 (8:28 pm)

      Ah yes here we go. Back to the same old complaints that pre-date the bridge closure. New flash: traffic is horrible when the bridge reopens, as it was before the bridge closed, because there are too many cars on the road!

      • Canton April 5, 2022 (9:20 pm)

        News flash: Time is money. People are like the water element and choose the path of least resistance.  If walking to work, biking to work, transit to work doesn’t make sense in a timely manner, then people will choose alternative means.

        • Jort April 5, 2022 (9:41 pm)

          Gosh, Canton, how do you suppose that walking, biking or transit might actually become faster? Do you think it might be something like, oh, I dunno, wild guess here, transit-only traffic lanes?

          • Reed April 6, 2022 (6:41 am)

            Getting from North Admiral to SLU by bicycle is faster than by car, for me. I can even run that distance faster if I take the water taxi downtown first. All the “nothing but my car” people are their own worst enemy.

          • Canton April 6, 2022 (8:13 am)

            Gosh, I don’t know jort, maybe if employers paid people for the minute they leave their homes. Would be happy to walk to work(ballard), if paid for that time. Might take 3 hours to walk there, but hey, progress and productivity!!

        • Todd April 6, 2022 (7:02 am)

          Riding an E bike from WS to just about anywhere in town during traffic hours is faster than driving. 

      • Synodica April 6, 2022 (12:45 pm)

        What a laughable reaction. Yes, how dare people want to dictate their own transportation methodologies? The gall. Not in Seattle, folks. This city has experienced insane growth yet never really sensibly nor coherently planned for much of it, including how cars can fit into that growth. And voices like Reed’s insist it is car drivers who are to blame, even when their choices are very often borne of genuine necessity and solutions to practical problems.

        • CAM April 6, 2022 (2:04 pm)

          You’re arguing a point that no one is making Synodica. There is no future that does not involve some amount of car driving. You fail to acknowledge or account for the number of people making no “coherent plan” for their commute other than driving who do not need to be 100% reliant on a car. Those are the people who are opting in to increased commute times, traffic jams, etc. Everyone is responsible for the choices they make everyday, not just those people who choose to take alternative modes of transit. 

  • Also John April 5, 2022 (7:35 pm)

    Damn…..that’s 500 tons of concrete added to the bridge.

  • CarDriver April 5, 2022 (8:26 pm)

    Olivist. With a new mayor and new SDOT head maybe, just maybe they’ll listen to what WE want and need and not tell us what they think we want and need. Hope springs eternal.

  • Rocket April 5, 2022 (8:37 pm)

    Cadman is one of the companies that the union agreed to return to work for based on their efforts to try to bargain in good faith that were being prevented by some of the other companies like Merlino who are trying to break the union.  This is fine for labor and a sign at least part of the labor management relationship can work.People on here complaining about the bridge being broken but celebrating the executive branch saying we should wait for more studies and hope the feds throw us some more coin before we consider maintaining our infra structure are just too much.Yall want your cake but expect someone else to grow it, cook it, decorate it and feed it to you all while complaining that it’s too dry  smh.

    • WS Res April 6, 2022 (9:18 am)

      You said a mouthful here.

  • Zach April 5, 2022 (8:48 pm)

    This picture shows the crews placing back an expansion joint that can happen the day before the bridge opens ( they due this regularly on the 5 freeway once enough cars get flat tires). Contractor needs to place concrete required for installing post tension cables since this is by far the longest activity/critical path to getting the bridge done. My bet is the Bridge is going to open on time and Kramer and the city council will look like heroes for getting 3 months of work done in 2.5 yrs. Pictures from SDOT last week shows formwork that isn’t ready for concrete, so how can anyone say they’re delayed by the concrete strike? So much for transparency and this is all a hoax for someone to take credit on fixing the bridge and by taking 2 yrs longer then needed.if this were WSDOT this would have been opened in early 2021! 

    • Al April 6, 2022 (11:55 am)

      “3 months of work done in 2.5 years”you said it… we’re taking about 30 truckloads of concrete in total, that is practically nothing. The Hoover dam took about twice as long to build (5 years), but included several hundred thousand truckloads of cement, not 30. 

      • Zach April 6, 2022 (7:36 pm)

        Placed more 300 yds each day this week on the project I’m working on. Union yes, Teamsters nope; we would use them if they wanted to work, but if they don’t show up, someone else will take their good paying job… and for the haters saying the bridge needs special concrete, it’s ready mix; try ordering and you’ll see it’s pretty simple stuff once the mix design has been approved. This is as difficult as the world wants to make it and we’ve managed to knot this one up pretty tight….definetly need SDOT and politicians to help us get this figured out so they can demand bigger budgets and reelection campaigns. I didn’t like the last president, but drain the swamp was catchy! 

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