City opts to repair West Seattle Bridge rather than replace it

SEATTLE — Cars could be driving across the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge by mid-2022, according to the City of Seattle.

The Seattle Department of Transportation will move forward with the rapid repair option rather than immediately building a replacement.

Mayor Jenny Durkin said several factors made the repair option more attractive including safety, community input and economic recovery.

>> ‘Indefinite shutdown’: Stress cracks endanger West Seattle Bridge

The West Seattle Bridge was the city’s most used bridge, taking on an average of 100,000 vehicles each day.

SDOT closed the bridge in March after cracks were discovered during a routine inspection.

To prevent the cracks from spreading, SDOT filled them with epoxy and wrapped the bridge with cables and carbon fibers.

SDOT said those repairs are performing well; however, they will need to be monitored to ensure they will withstand the winter.

The rapid repair option could cost as much as $47 million in upfront construction, another $50 million in traffic mitigation and an additional $10 million for low bridge repair.

The city plans to seek funding on the local and state levels along with federal partnerships.

SDOT is already wrapping up phase one work, which started in April and focused on stabilization.

Phase two, focusing on design, permitting and construction planning, will start soon and last through the summer of 2021, with construction starting later that fall.

>> New video shows ‘rapid replacement’ option for West Seattle Bridge

If all goes well, the main artery to the west side will open to traffic in mid-2022.

The decided-upon rapid repair option is not without risks.

SDOT said the bridge’s success depends on how well the bridge takes the stabilization repairs and there could be future long-term shutdowns if they do not hold.

Even with repairs, the bridge will only last 15 to 40 years.

Since a replacement is imminent, SDOT is starting a study to look at the type, size and location of a new bridge.

Mayor Durkin is advocating for a multimodal bridge that could provide transportation redundancies for the area.

SDOT will also need to complete a traffic and revenue study to develop a long-term financial strategy for the replacement.