By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
When the West Seattle Bridge reopens, you’ll notice some changes.
As we reported earlier today, SDOT expects to announce the reopening date this Thursday. In the meantime, the bridge is full of activity and materials that are part of the final stages of work. As we concluded our visit this afternoon and traveled back to the west entrance, we recorded this video to show you part of what we saw:
Along with the final phase of strengthening – applying more carbon-fiber wrap now that the post-tensioning steel cables are in and tightened – work includes getting the bridge back to a service-suitable state after almost two and a half years of closure. That includes signage, like what’s shown above, and what’s coming to new overhead structures like this:
On the bridge’s deck, new concrete panels have been poured in dozens of spots to improve the bridge surface. On the so-called Nucor curve near the west end, a micro-silica overlay is being installed, with grooves atop it, to prevent the slipping and sliding so common in that spot in the past. A subcontractor crew was working toward the west end today to seal some of the bridge joints, and to set up a rail for a machine that’ll be used as the paving continues. All along the bridge, equipment, materials, and access points were in evidence.
In a few weeks, demobilization work will include bringing down the two platforms that have been used for work on the underside of the bridge – tentatively scheduled for removal the weekends of August 20th and August 27th, according to Kraemer’s project manager Adam Dour (who delivered this detailed briefing last December).
Scaffolding atop the bridge marks those platforms’ sites, and notches in the bridge deck that have been part of the platform operation remain to be filled in.
Along with the signs, another difference you’ll notice when the bridge reopens – the inside westbound shoulder is widening to 12 feet, so the westbound lanes will shift toward the outside. No changes in number of, or uses of, the bridge lanes – just that shoulder widening. Toward the edge of the westbound lanes today, meantime, crew members were replacing cables in the bridge’s streetlights, frequently plagued by outages pre-closure:
Another material also on view today – stacks of yellow fiberglass girders:
These will be used to build inspection platforms inside the bridge. And the final run-up to reopening will include a lot of inspection and observation, particularly during the load testing, when trucks – like a double-trailer dump truck, filled with gravel – will be driven and parked on the bridge at strategic spots to ensure it responds as expected.
Here’s what it looked like inside the bridge today (thanks to Tim Durkan for the interior photos) – including some of the 45 miles of steel cables now in place to strengthen the bridge:
Crews are working inside and out, two shifts a day, six days a week. Other notes from our visit:
Last month, we reported that SDOT was planning a community celebration to say thanks. Today, Marx told us that idea has been scrapped – in recent outreach, she said, SDOT reps heard over and over that all community members wanted was for the bridge to be reopened. They do plan a news-media briefing “a couple days before the bridge reopens” -that event will not be on the bridge, but on a port site with the bridge as a backdrop. First, we expect to hear the reopening date Thursday – and when that day arrives, SDOT has said, they expect to open the bridge fully, not incrementally. And as we’ve reported multiple times before, the low-bridge restrictions will end once the high bridge is open – that was reiterated today too.