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Advanced deterioration under Aurora Bridge to slow Seattle commute

The Aurora Bridge. (Lana aka BADGRL, Flickr)

If you live north of downtown Seattle this traffic trouble could affect you, with one southbound lane of the Aurora Bridge closed until further notice.

Dori: No way Aurora Bridge repairs weren’t a setup by WSDOT

There’s advanced deterioration of the steel underneath the bridge, and pieces needs to be replaced. Work is expected to take at least a week. The issue was discovered during an in-depth inspection after the Aurora Bridge was repainted in September.

The ensuing closure is expected to cause slowdowns both on the bridge and on alternate routes moving south into Seattle. I expect things to get real messy beginning around 7:30 a.m. each morning while closures persist.

“Folks who travel in the mornings are really going to need to adjust their schedules,” said WSDOT’s Bart Treece.

The bridge is still considered safe to cross, and pedestrian walkways will remain open in both directions. Treece told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson the big concern is really that outside lane on the bridge because it’s not handling the weight like it should. That weight is being transferred to the inside lane.

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“By closing that one lane we can keep traffic moving while still reducing strain until that portion is repaired,” Treece said. “We evaluated is it safe to keep one lane open, do we need to close more lanes, this is the right mix to keep it traffic moving for the weekday while also giving us time to make that repair so we’re not doing any more damage to that bridge.”

WSDOT is asking commuters to consider carpooling or mass transit while the repair is underway to help ease the congestion.

Treece said the Aurora Bridge problem will not affect the start of tolling for the nearby highway 99 tunnel. He also told Dori the move is not political.

“We have crews that are out year-round inspecting all sorts of structures here in the state,” Treece said. “Safety is the reason behind the closure and nothing else went into consideration.”

Treece further explained the bridge is on a two-year inspection cycle. The bridge was inspected in 2015, 2017, and last month, which is what ultimately prompted the closure.

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