The West Seattle Bridge will remain closed until 2021

Apr 15 2020, 4:30 pm

The West Seattle Bridge will remain closed to traffic for the remainder of 2020, and at least until 2022, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced on Wednesday.

The bridge has been closed since March 23 and will only be open to transit, freight, and emergency responders.

In the SDOT’s report, the city revealed that they do not know if the repair of the bridge is feasible, technically or financially (total repair costs are currently estimated at $33 million).

The bridge is currently facing multiple structural issues, a main issue being that it has compressed and bulging bearings on Pier 18. These bearings are creating additional pressure on the bridge, causing cracks. To slow the cracking, SDOT is procuring a contractor to perform immediate emergency repairs.

Once the bearings are repaired, the city will be adding temporary support to the bridge to preserve its integrity. It is only after the support is installed that bridge repairs can be conducted.

“It may not be possible to repair the bridge as it currently is,” says Sam Zimbabwe, director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

“That may be because of the deterioration of the bridge, or the technical or financial feasibility of repair.”

If repair is possible, the city is hoping that it can provide up to 10 years of additional use.

Right now, the city is exploring long-term solutions and is enlisting help from experts across the country. They are also working with local transit agencies to keep people moving to and from West Seattle, and have come up with a plan for traffic mitigation with a similar level of complexity to the recent Viaduct closure.

The low bridge will be restricted to those driving emergency vehicles, freight trucks, and public transit, while the high-rise bridge will be close to everyone.

A path will remain open to those walking and biking, while access to Harbor Island remains via the east channel bridge.

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