Herbold: Take the survey on repairing or replacing the West Seattle Bridge
District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold shares the pros and cons of repair and/or replacement options for the ailing West Seattle Bridge. She urges people to take the survey she's sponsoring on those options.
Seattle will soon decide whether to repair or replace the West Seattle Bridge. The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, the Seattle Department of Transportation, and SDOT's Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) of engineering experts are charged with advising the Mayor - who will ultimately make this critical decision. I’m writing to request your participation in a survey for District 1 constituents about this decision.
In part because of uncertainty about the life of a repair, the efforts to date have focused upon whether to proceed with a repair or whether to move directly to replace the bridge. To inform the decision, SDOT evaluated three conceptual options for a replacement. If a replacement is chosen, a “Type, Size and Location” study would be needed to decide which replacement option to pursue.
The TAP has found “all alternatives are technically feasible from an engineering standpoint.”
According to SDOT, Repair has the following pros and cons:
- Lower costs now, but higher annual maintenance costs
- Quicker to get traffic back on bridge; but bridge will have to close again
- Lower safety/seismic scores
- Higher scores for positive impacts on equity, business, workforce, and mobility
- Success of repair depends on response to stabilization/unknown life of repair
According to SDOT, Replacement has the following pros and cons:
- Higher cost to build, but lower annual maintenance costs
- Longer to get traffic back on bridge; but bridge won't need to close again
- Higher safety/seismic scores
- Higher future multi-modal compatibility scores
- Success doesn't depend on response to stabilization/more certainty re: life of repair
Here are links to the slides from last Wednesday’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting with SDOT’s summary information for Repair and Replace. Capital costs and maintenance/operations are listed by dollar signs, from 1 to 5.
Repair the existing bridge and this time fund proper maintenance.
I vote for repair first. The bridge will close again but, hopefully much of the upfront planning can be done which would shorten the window of closure in the future as compared to replacing now. In addition, improvements and planning can be done to mitigate the detours we are dealing with right now.
We need access to the rest of the city NOW.
Replace (at least) the bridge superstructure. It may be feasible to save the existing columns and foundation by designing a new, lighter weight superstructure along with the use of base isolation on top of the existing columns.
Repair bridge and pursue the immersed tunnel options.
Replacement of the bridge pros and cons is actually a win/win. All of them are pros. It may take longer to replace, but you won't have to close again. It may cost more to replace, but the maintenance costs will be lower. And with inflation, replacing now will be lower than replacing later. There is too much uncertainty and unpredictability on the repairing option. Replace now and save time and $$s.
I am distraught that Lisa Herbold is asking this of us now, when a decision somewhere has probably been made already. Perhaps Herbold is hoping that people will support the replace option, providing cover for the upcoming decision? It seems like a PR stunt to me.
I believe that building a new bridge will force many, many people to leave West Seattle. It's fine to talk about "positive impacts on equity, business, workforce, and mobility" in the abstract, but how many people can suffer through a 5-10 years of being stuck in traffic?
Repair the bridge