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Seattle lacks funding and plans to repair the Magnolia Bridge

Magnolia residents are upset that the city lacks the finances to rebuild the Magnolia bridge. (Courtesy photo)

Magnolia residents much prefer the Magnolia bridge’s early work, and not the state it’s currently in. The old concrete structure is not looking its best, between cracks, flaking, and crumbling. Flaking and crumbling are never good.

Even the National Bridge Inventory recently deemed the Magnolia Bridge structurally deficient. “It basically means it’s not as strong as it was the day they built it, 89 years ago,” joked KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney.

“The term sounds really scary,” added KIRO Radio’s John Curley. “But it doesn’t mean that you’re taking your own life in your own hands when you cross the bridge. It’s not something Indiana Jones would be thinking twice about.”

Nevertheless, the Seattle Department of Transportation doesn’t appear to have any plans (or money) to fix the Magnolia Bridge, according to The Seattle Times. It was damaged by the Nisqually earthquake in 2001. A new SDOT study revealed that it would cost upwards of $350 million to $400 million to repair. Experts believe a full rebuild is necessary.

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The Magnolia Bridge is expected to wear out in the 2020s, or in the event of an earthquake, whichever comes first. This is not inspiring much confidence in Magnolia residents, who have to drive over the wretched thing. It handles 17,000 vehicles a day.

While that sounds like plenty, it’s a quarter of the traffic of the older Ballard Bridge — it’s 101 years old. Along with RapidRide bus upgrades, sidewalk curb ramps, and bike lanes, the Ballard Bridge may be taking financial attention away.

Is the Magnolia Bridge losing out because of transit and bike lanes?

“One of the accusatory comments made by Magnolia residents was: ‘Are you saying we don’t have the money now because you’re trying to spend more on transit and bike lanes?'” Tom said. “And they said, ‘No, we’re trying to keep the ratio of cars to transit to bikes in Magnolia the same.’ That’s what they claim, at least.”

Curley isn’t entirely convinced.

“They don’t like cars. So if they can get you out of your car by having you drive your car off a crumbling bridge, they’ll do that,” joked Curley. “They have to sacrifice a few for the well of all.”

For those looking to yell or glare at SDOT officials, representatives will chat with residents about the Magnolia Bridge Planning Study at the times below:

  • June 12 and 21: 8-10 a.m., Uptown Espresso, 3223 West McGraw Street
  • June 14 and 20: 5-7 p.m., Magnolia Park parking lot, 461 Magnolia Blvd. West
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