VIDEO: ‘State of the Bridges’ briefing, with one major missing piece

(Video is coded to start with State of Bridges briefing; if it doesn’t, go to 1 hour, 38 minutes into the meeting)
SDOT‘s “State of the Bridges” briefing – another reason we went downtown for the Seattle City Council’s Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday (besides this) – was an informational overview rather than a bridge-by-bridge update, and it was somewhat rushed because the preceding item, a discussion of the Seattle Transportation Plan, had run long.

And one critical component was missing – the bridge-asset management plan called for in the bridge audit requested by the former committee chair Alex Pedersen during the West Seattle Bridge closure. Pedersen noted in a post before leaving office in December that it’s troubling the new transportation levy proposal is being developed without this “foundational document”:

SDOT is still behind on completing its Bridge Asset Management Plan and yet asset management plans should be foundational documents driving (the investment) for the next transportation capital package, as the 9-year, $930 million “Move Seattle” levy expires at the end of 2024.

Pedersen’s observation was made three months ago, and the plan’s not done yet, though the next levy proposal is expected to be made public this spring. The bridge asset plan’s current status was listed as “pending/drafting” in Tuesday’s briefing led by SDOT’s chief infrastructure engineer Elizabeth Sheldon, who said this is what it will include.

The list of “assets” is long: Sheldon’s briefing (see the full slide deck here) noted that the city’s portfolio of roadway structures includes 135 bridges and almost 500 stairways. The city also operates the South Park Bridge, though King County owns it. She also said that Seattle bridges are an average of 60 years old, while the national average bridge age is 47. Only a third of Seattle bridges are in good condition, and changing that, she said, would cost a lot.

No specific numbers, but Councilmember Dan Strauss suggested it sounded dire enough that the city perhaps should consider a levy just to address its bridges. Those currently considered to be in “fair” condition, he said, represented a “watch list,” recalling that “the West Seattle Bridge moved from fair to poor in the span of a week.”

For his part, committee chair and District 1 Councilmember Rob Saka said bridges are “near and dear” to him and that he appreciates “geeking out” on this type of information. He added that he has a field visit to the West Seattle low bridge scheduled toward the end of the month.

3 Replies to "VIDEO: 'State of the Bridges' briefing, with one major missing piece"

  • Stella March 6, 2024 (12:59 pm)

    Thanks for covering this!

  • Kyle March 6, 2024 (8:06 pm)

    What did SDOT ever spend that $20 car tab fee on? Wasn’t it supposed to go to bridge maintenance?

  • kjb March 7, 2024 (5:18 am)

    Only one bridge operator is CRAZY! 

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