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Update on the West Seattle Bridge repair

A view of trucks and construction work on the West Seattle bridge, with the city skyline in the background

View of work on the bridge from earlier this year. | Screenshot via SDOT’s YouTube channel

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Um, are we there yet? Wednesday marked the two-year anniversary of the West Seattle Bridge closing due to structural concerns. Even though officials estimated last year that the span would finally be open around July 14, there’s still a whole truck-load of uncertainty about when repair work will actually be done. Buckle up.

Concrete plans 🏗️

An ongoing concrete workers strike now in its fourth month could potentially impact the timeline — but whether that will be a major stumbling block is not entirely clear yet. While the concrete strike adds complications, some truck drivers have expressed a willingness to return to work for certain projects — including those that run routes for Cadman, a company that supplies concrete for the bridge.

Also, a relatively small amount of concrete is needed for the remaining repair work and, once the mixing formula for the materials is set, the line doesn’t seem too long. Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who represents West Seattle, told SEAtoday, “We might be able to have concrete by the end of the week.” So that’s encouraging.

All the fixins 🚧

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) recently gave an update on the other pieces of repair progress, noting that workers continue to reinforce the bridge with epoxy crack injections and carbon-fiber wraps — a fancy way of saying they’re patching up boo-boos.

Soon, giant steel cables used to help strengthen the bridge will be installed. Prep work is already being done, but a crucial part of the so-called post-tensioning process will require a special form of that aforementioned concrete that can hold more than 20 million pounds of force — like the Hulk of building supplies.

Save the date? 🗓️

City officials have not committed to an exact reopening date for the bridge, but mid-2022 could still be in play. In fact, local groups have been meeting regularly to set up events, promotional tools, and more for the bridge, and set up logistics for a celebration. “The committees hope to have more clarity in April as the planning comes together and will issue a press release at that time,” said Whitney Moore from the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Moore said a potential grand reopening ceremony — whenever it occurs — may include a run or walk across the bridge. And cake too, we can only hope.

DYK: During the recent strike, King County officials discussed creating its own concrete manufacturing facility for local, public projects like the West Seattle Bridge. Right now, there’s nothing set in stone and it wouldn’t be done in time to help the bridge repair — but the county is commissioning a study to determine the feasibility, potential locations, and cost-benefit of such an effort, so that major projects don’t run into supply challenges down the line. Infrastructure enthusiasts, keep an eye out. 👀

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