WEST SEATTLE LOW BRIDGE: What’s happening in second week of closure

(‘Live’ image from SDOT traffic camera)

The West Seattle low bridge is now in its ninth day of closure to street and path traffic, with no estimate yet on when it will be repaired and reopened. We continue to ask SDOT for updates; here’s what spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB:

Crews have been in the bridge every day since the recent incident, and will continue to work on repairs over the weekend. We are actively repairing what we can now, as we also continue to work to understand the full scope and cause of the damage and to estimate the timeline to complete repairs. At 3 a.m. this morning, electricians completed repairs to a flooded underground power conduit, replacing 500 feet of damaged power lines. We are continuing to assemble the equipment necessary to overhaul the damaged hydraulic cylinder that lifts the moveable bridge.

These are some of the other repairs that we have been working on over the past week:

-Reprogramming electrical components and analyzing the machine programming
-Conducting comprehensive inspections on all hydraulic bridge components
-Building and assembling the equipment necessary to move the 15,000-pound cylinder
-Working with our contractors and suppliers to order necessary parts and equipment

We asked if Kraemer North America, which had the contract for previously planned low-bridge work as well as the high-bridge repairs, will have this work added onto their contract. Here’s Bergerson’s reply to that:

We already had planned to overhaul the broken hydraulic pump in 2023 as part of our comprehensive repair project. Several contractors are involved with different aspects of our comprehensive rehabilitation project. Kraemer was responsible for the already-completed structural strengthening work (carbon fiber wrapping and epoxy injections), not for the hydraulic cylinder rehabilitation. SDOT has blanket contracts for certain specialized services as needed, including a contract with GCC for hydraulic system work. We have been working with these companies for the past several months, which enabled us to begin working with them to create a response plan almost immediately after the problem occurred.

Last but not least, our latest round of questions included the concerns commenters raised about SDOT’s suggested bicycle detour, and why a shuttle hadn’t been quickly implemented as it was during the 2018 repair closure:

In addition to the bridge engineers and technical experts working to repair the Spokane St Swing bridge, we also have a team working to address further the impact the closure has on people who bike, walk and roll.

We are working on possible measures to make the bike detour route as intuitive and comfortable as possible. Because the bridge closure could last a minimum of two weeks, we have placed “no parking” signs along sections of First Ave S in case the space is needed to improve the bike detour route. Our approach is to move sequentially and intentionally while we balance a large number of demands. We’ll know more when the repair plan and schedule are available.

Our bike team consists of professional transportation planners with experience planning, designing, and building bike lanes throughout Seattle and are also bike riders. While the current route is not an all-ages and abilities, it is an acceptable short-term detour. We have spoken to representatives from bicycle advocacy groups and will continue to do so as part of our ongoing commitment to open communication and transparency during this time.

We have been actively looking into the feasibility of other ideas like the shuttle you mentioned and working with King County Metro to understand options to make transit and the water taxi an even easier choice for people.

6 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LOW BRIDGE: What's happening in second week of closure"

  • Dave December 31, 2022 (4:23 pm)

    Much like on the high bridge, SDOT is not committing to a completion date.  Hard to blow a schedule when you never share one with the citizens.  Is this their idea of accountability?

  • Colonel Mustard's Wrench December 31, 2022 (5:36 pm)

    “At 3 a.m. this morning, electricians completed repairs to a flooded underground power conduit, replacing 500 feet of damaged power lines.”

    SDOT is devolving into a SH!_   Show – AGAIN  !

    WTF  SDOT ?

    How did the underground conduit get flooded ?
    How is it that that was allowed to happen ?
    A 3:00 AM repair  – replacing 500 feet of conductors by the electricians is not cheap !  Their labor will be at an expensive overtime rate ! 
    And 500 feet of conductors – well, has anyone priced copper lately ?  
    This failure is mind-blowing !
    It is much worse than first indicated !
    What I find additionally particularly troubling is that SDOT apparently doesn’t even know the extent of the bridges problems !   
    WHY ????   
    Mayor Harrell – it is time for you to get involved.
    Us folks in West Seattle have lost our patience with SDOT a long time ago !
    Your new guy isn’t taking charge in the way that he needs to !

    Mayor Harrell – we are now looking to you for answers – and fast !

  • Kyle December 31, 2022 (8:55 pm)

    2023 Prediction based of the squirmy responses SDOT is already giving: This bridge will be closed for months.

  • Mj December 31, 2022 (10:18 pm)

    This bridge closure really sucks for the bike community!  For us fair weather riders not so much. A break out nice day is hopefully around the corner and getting a ride into the City is always on the agenda presuming the bridge is open.

    They need to get the bridge fixed and open and City needs to fully fund maintenance.  It’s time to redirect money from other City spending to address the dire maintenance needs of the City’s infrastructure.

  • Conrad January 1, 2023 (7:50 am)

    Given that it was non motorized commuters and worker flexibility that softened the blow for the upper bridge closure, you might think that SDOT would have something in place for us when you knew that the low bridge would be out for an extended period of time.  Speaking of which, why do they keep saying “2 weeks” while simultaneously describing work that is far longer than that?  Not helpful!

  • Wood Gate January 2, 2023 (6:27 am)

    SDOT should ask KCM to suspend/reduce water taxi fare for bicyclists during this extended low bridge repair.  

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