CHOKEPOINTS

20 months into the closure, workers return to West Seattle Bridge

Nov 29, 2021, 1:31 PM | Updated: 5:32 pm
West Seattle Bridge...
West Seattle Bridge. (Credit Chun Kwan Via WSDOT/ Flickr)
(Credit Chun Kwan Via WSDOT/ Flickr)

That cheer you heard Monday came from West Seattle, as workers finally returned to the closed West Seattle Bridge, promising to have it open to the public in the middle of next year.

The bridge has been closed for more than 20 months, since March 2020, when the Seattle Department of Transportation had to shut it down because of cracking concrete.

It’s been nearly a year since Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan decided to repair the bridge instead of replacing it, with the goal of returning the bridge to service as fast as possible. To many people living in West Seattle or to those with businesses there, the pace has seemed glacial, at best.

However, Mayor Durkan said it could not have happened any faster.

“The fact that we have been able to get to this point and source the materials to keep going has really been a Herculean feat,” the mayor told reporters Monday.

While repairs buy time, Seattle closes in on options to replace West Seattle Bridge

Bridge engineers and the head of SDOT, Sam Zimbabwe, agree that this could not have gone much faster, nor was this a job to rush.

“The project has been the top priority for us at SDOT,” Zimbabwe said. “Our teams have been working tirelessly to complete the design and begin repairs as safely and as quickly as possible. We followed a very aggressive schedule to expedite bridge repair and restore traffic for everybody who relies on it.”

Workers had to install steel cable inside the center span last winter and wrap the structure with carbon fiber. Zimbabwe said engineers had to wait to see how those temporary repairs handled the changing weather before knowing if a repair was even feasible.

Now, he says, they know.

“The bridge, since we stabilized it, has been performing as expected,” he said. “Everything points to the stabilization working as expected, which also leads us to this really strong confidence that, as we do these final repairs, the bridge will continue to respond as we expect it to.”

The final fix, which is now underway, will be more of the same work done during the initial shoring up:  more steel cable, additional carbon fiber, and filling cracks in the concrete with epoxy.

“We have more than 91 tons of steel cable — 46 miles long when stretched end to end — that will go into the bridge,” Zimbabwe said.

A look inside the West Seattle Bridge with repairs set to kick off

The schedule remains the same. The contractor expects to finish repairs by June 30, 2022, barring any unexpected weather or pandemic-related issues. Zimbabwe said they have scheduled about two weeks of load testing that needs to be completed before traffic can return.

Once repaired, the city expects to get another 40 years of life out of the bridge, which would bring it to its original lifespan had the steel cables not failed, creating what will eventually be more than two years of closure.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

Chokepoints

snow removal...
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT accuses Kittitas County of ‘misinformation’ on snow removal dispute

The head of the Washington State Department of Transportation is basically saying Kittitas County is lying about its snow removal complaint.
2 days ago
Puget Sound commute...
Chris Sullivan

Uncertainty surrounding COVID, work schedules brings changes to Puget Sound commute

Commute times typically see a dip over the winter holidays, but it springs right back after the first of the year. That didn't happen this year.
3 days ago
pass closures...
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT head tells legislature vaccine mandate had no impact on recent pass closures

The head of the Washington State Department of Transportation faced angry lawmakers Monday, asking if the vaccine mandate had an impact on pass closures.
5 days ago
snow plow, pass closures...
Chris Sullivan

Blame the weather, not vaccine mandates, for the current pass closures

The mountain passes in Washington have recently been closed because of heavy snow and winds, not as a byproduct of WSDOT staffing shortages.
12 days ago
ZEVA, flying cars, transportation...
Chris Sullivan

Flying cars and bridge behemoths: 2021’s transportation curiosities and oddities

KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan reviews his favorite transportation stories from 2021, including flying cars, mysterious roads, and a large concrete girder.
24 days ago
transportation...
Chris Sullivan

Looking back at transportation around Western Washington in 2021

Projects delivered. Projects delayed. It's been another up and down year for transportation across Western Washington.
26 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
20 months into the closure, workers return to West Seattle Bridge