WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Another visit to find out what’s been done and what’s left to do, as September 18th reopening nears

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

For the second time in a little over two weeks, we were back up on the 2 1/2-years-closed West Seattle Bridge today,

Last time, SDOT and repair contractor Kraemer North America hosted WSB and The Seattle Times. This time, it was an open-invitation tour for media from around the metro area.

First, let’s get this out of the way: SDOT says they’re still on track to reopen the bridge Sunday, September 18th, the date announced two weeks ago. When on September 18th? Bridge project director Heather Marx says they haven’t finalized all the logistics yet but probably sometime “early in the morning” that Sunday, they’ll just open the gates and let traffic flow on. No, she reiterated, the bridge will not be reopened in phases – when they open it, the plan to open all lanes.

Even now, work is “winding down.” The carbon-fiber wrapping – part of strengthening the bridge – was finished yesterday. That means Kraemer NA will be able to go ahead with removing the remaining beneath-the-bridge suspended platforms this weekend (the first two came down last Saturday, as covered here). That’ll probably span both days this weekend because the logistics involve the railroad tracks under the bridge, explained Kraemer’s bridge project manager Adam Dour. Also remaining: About 40 yards of concrete work, including filling the holes that were used for suspending and moving the platforms.

Despite concrete drivers’ recent rejection of a contract offer, they’ve had no supply challenges, Marx said. Meantime, a variety of other tasks are under way to get the bridge ready for use.

Today’s discussion also covered ground we covered in our report two weeks ago – including the load testing that’ll happen before the bridge gets final clearance for reopening, But keep in mind, 80 percent of the weight on the bridge, even when open, is generated by the bridge itself, And Marx stressed that their monitoring continues to show the bridge reacting exactly as predicted. She gave a 15-minute briefing/Q&A at the start of the tour, along with Kraemer’s Dour and bridge engineer of record Greg Banks from consultants WSP – here’s our video of that in its entirety;

While “demobilization” on the bridge is necessary before it can be reopened safely to traffic, days if not weeks of work will remain on the routes leading to and from the bridge – removing detour signs, for example, will be a priority – so that the neighborhoods that have borne the burden of extra traffic these past two and a half years will have a chance, finally, at relief.

32 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Another visit to find out what's been done and what's left to do, as September 18th reopening nears"

  • Structural Engineer, PE, SE August 25, 2022 (4:42 pm)

    It’s super fun watching SDOT put a positive spin on this bridge.  It’s going to last 40+ years.  When it opens, it’s going to be safe, with all lanes open.  Of course it will be.Do you all remember how SDOT was trying to sell us on a new bridge.  Don’t forget that, my City of Seattle friends.  The final outcome here was known to the engineers who had conceived of the repair back in the spring of 2020.  Those engineers have had to keep their mouths shut while SDOT did the messaging.  By non-disclosure clauses in their contract.  Many of this community believed what SDOT was telling us in the summer of 2020 about their lack of confidence that the repair would work.  The engineers were quite confident.  SDOT was telling you not to be, for a multitude of reasons: Lack of expertise within the department; desire to herd us onto bikes and mass transit; desire to keep us isolated during covid.; hubris thinking that the new bridge could be practically combined with light rail (it couldn’t be . . it had been studied over and over).Now you are hearing the new story.  The bridge is safe.  The repair will last.  That’s the truth.  It would have been nice to hear the truth from the beginning.  Since we were being misled, many of you have misgivings.  That’s a shame, but enjoy the bridge again, nonetheless.  More heads should have rolled at SDOT than have already. I don’t like a communications director who’s cool with all the lying.  Do you ?

    • Neal August 25, 2022 (6:35 pm)

      For those who aren’t engineers, one “super” equals three “reallys”. Adverbs…

    • Peter August 25, 2022 (6:53 pm)

      OMG. Take your nonsense conspiracy theories somewhere else, dude. Engineer my a**. If you’re not lying, cite your sources. 

      • Flo B August 25, 2022 (8:37 pm)

        Peter. Are YOU an engineer? If so please provide FACTS disputing what the commenter said. My take is that you’re employed by SDOT to be their chief apologist. 

        • Ron Swanson August 26, 2022 (9:07 am)

          The FACTS are that the bridge is reopening despite the factless conspiratorial ramblings of armchair engineers on here.

        • WestSeattleBadTakes August 26, 2022 (10:08 am)

          So many here are completely unhinged.

    • PE August 25, 2022 (8:42 pm)

      Engineers required to sign None Disclosure Contracts!?    I’d like to see where you got that bit of info from.

    • Pietro August 25, 2022 (9:01 pm)

      WOW. Someone’s tin foil hat is on a bit tight tonight. 

  • John Smith August 25, 2022 (5:36 pm)

    I hope SDOT will also be removing the speed humps on 9th Ave. SW and on SW Henderson St., but I suppose that is unlikely.

    • Highland park dad August 25, 2022 (6:44 pm)

      Both of those are neighborhood arterials. There is no reason to drive over 25. The humps are designed so that you can drive over them at 25 without slowing down, but are uncomfortable to drive over at faster speeds. By asking to remove them you come across as wanting to drive at higher speed past blind drives, schools, parks, and daycares. To me that seems selfish, entitled and short sighted. 

      • John Smith August 26, 2022 (2:11 am)

        Highland Park Dad,I don’t think arterials should have speed humps. 10th Ave. SW between SW Henderson St. and SW Trenton St. is the logical place for speed humps, because that block is a residential street. There is a tremendous amount of cut-through traffic and speeding on that block. A man driving a white Audi S4 who parks in the Highland Park Elementary School parking lot is one of the regular speeders.

        • Ws resident August 31, 2022 (7:21 pm)

          As a fellow HP resident I couldn’t agree more.  Speed humps shouldn’t be on arterials.  It sucks that they added so many to 9th Ave.  I also think arterial speed limits should be 35 mph (what they were when I got my license).  25 mph is for slow Sunday drivers and no one ever goes that speed anyway on arterials in Seattle.  The only exception is school zones which should always be 20 mph. Just my 2 cents…which means nothing of course.

  • Neal August 25, 2022 (5:56 pm)

    Let this saga close with the safe opening of this bridge, and let’s hope the swing bridge has withstood the extra loads it has had to carry too.

    Knock on wood!

  • ItsMe August 25, 2022 (6:50 pm)

    They must have saved a bunch of money by abbreviating Way to Wy 

    • sw August 25, 2022 (8:28 pm)

      It does cost more to buy a vowel. 

  • 1994 August 25, 2022 (8:47 pm)

    Let’s see what Heather Marx’s next job/project will be….Magnolia bridge?

    • WSB August 25, 2022 (8:56 pm)

      We already reported that. She says she’ll be in charge of the sequel to the Levy to Move Seattle. (Although that was before the director nominee was announced, so certainly it’s up to him to decide who to assign to what …)

  • Mj August 25, 2022 (10:37 pm)

    SDoT new the bridge was reparable within weeks of the closure.  Sam inferred this in his comments.  Many PE’s also said it was fixable and from my recollection I saw that the original designs of the bridge provided space to add reinforcement in the future.  If it was not for the pandemic it would have been open already.

    And let’s not forget SDoT’s failure to properly maintain the bridge!  

    The City’s slowness in making the decision was that they were trying to get someone else to write the check and the WS community has paid a steep price for this delay.

  • Gw August 25, 2022 (11:16 pm)

    Can’t detour signs be removed after the bridge opens? Would be easier to do with the traffic routes back the normal way. But I keep seeing them say that like it’s a week’s worth of work. 

    • WSB August 25, 2022 (11:48 pm)

      Sorry if my words gave the wrong impression but no, SDOT says they won’t be removing detour signs until the bridge is actually open …

    • Eddie August 28, 2022 (3:18 pm)

      The detour signs sucked big time in my opinion. If you didn’t have a real-time GPS guidance or weren’t familiar with the area, the signs were outrageously horrible.

  • Scott W August 26, 2022 (8:01 am)

    So, after two and one-half years of enduring epic detours that redefine the term “detour”, the City and State is merely going to just remove the barrier and open traffic normally as if nothing had happened. Unless I have missed an announcement, there will be no walk-on celebration on Sunday, no pomp and circumstance from the West Seattle High School band or cheerleading team. No chance as a community to celebrate and show the region that this bridge closure has been an enormous hardship for over 100,000 residents and business owners the last two and one-half years. Friends, family and coworkers who live in other parts of the city truly have no true comprehension of how bad this bridge closure has been for West Seattleites. Silently re-opening the bridge to “normal traffic” just adds to the regional perception that the bridge closure wasn’t really that bad. And, it creates the impression that another major arterial outage won’t really be a big deal. It will be a joyous day for West Seattleites, but sadly with no fanfare.

    • SunDevil August 26, 2022 (2:42 pm)

      You are more than welcome to go to any of the numerous watering holes or parks and celebrate. I will just be happy to make it to work in 30 minutes as opposed to an hour. 

    • lucy August 26, 2022 (2:54 pm)

      Please, host a party in your backyard, I’ll bring some weenies.  Otherwise, please just open the darn thing.  It should not be closed a single minute longer than absolutely necessary.

  • Carole August 26, 2022 (10:07 am)

    Have your own party.

  • Casey MacDonald August 26, 2022 (10:37 am)

    They’ve re-stripped the lines on the Fauntleroy expressway.  Pics taken on Tuesday 8/23

    • WSB August 26, 2022 (10:50 am)

      Thanks, unlike two weeks ago this time we were taken onto the bridge via the Delridge ramp so we didn’t get to see that end.

  • Beto August 26, 2022 (2:11 pm)

    I’d rather think about it as a tentative re-opening.  In Seattle,  setting dates for opening of roads, etc., is VERY frustrating.  I do hope there in no cancelation, but until I see traffic on the bridge I will not trust those dates given by city authorities.

  • Wallace Grommet August 27, 2022 (8:23 am)

    Keep the rebar trucks from Nucor off the bridge permanently 

  • Kristen August 28, 2022 (11:13 pm)

    I should know this from all of the information reported (thank you!), but are they repaving the bridge and on/off ramp areas while it’s closed to traffic? Seems like this makes sense given the time they’ve  had with no traffic on the bridge! :) 

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