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SDOT racing to finish Fairview Avenue Bridge

It’s going to be a few more months before Seattle’s Fairview Avenue Bridge returns to service. Slowdowns due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have pushed the opening from spring to summer.

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This vital connection between South Lake Union and the Eastlake neighborhood has been out of action since late 2019, but it’s not quite ready to reopen.

“There’s a lot of sidewalk work, bike lanes, landscaping, that type of thing, that will really tie the bridge into the approaches,” said Marylin Yim, the project manager. “Almost there, but not quite.

The project has hit some key milestones recently. The bridge deck is poured, and the utilities have been moved.

“We have removed the temporary work trestle that we were doing a lot of the work from,” Yim said. “All of the remaining parts of the old bridge have been demolished and removed from the site.”

I visited the job site last week. Heavy machinery is moving dirt on the approaches, the sidewalks are being poured, and the railings are being installed. From the water, you can really notice a difference. All the old wooden pilings are gone, and you can see under the bridge a lot better. This was the last wooden bridge on a major road in Seattle.

One of the cool features of the new bridge is being worked on now. The west side of the bridge will have little bump-out areas where people can hangout without impeding the sidewalk. Those are Yim’s favorite design elements of the bridge.

“You can really take in the sights,” Yim said. “You can watch the seaplanes going out. I can imagine fireworks. You can start to really imagine what it’s going to be like when summer’s in full swing and people can actually get out there and enjoy it.”

The new Fairview Bridge will have full sidewalks and a protected bike lane. For Seattle voters, this is a project that was promised under the Move Seattle Levy.

“The Move Seattle Levy was actually announced from this bridge,” Yim said. “The voters approved it, and that’s what gave us the construction money to build this bridge.”

Yim wouldn’t give me an exact date for when the bridge will reopen. This summer is all she will commit to right now.

Personally, I’m hoping it will be open before August, considering that’s when the Montlake Bridge will be shut down for a month. A lot of the cars that use that bridge will likely be coming down Eastlake Avenue as a detour. It would be nice to have the Fairview Bridge open to handle that traffic.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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