HERBOLD: West Seattle Bridge Repair: WSOT and FHWA approval and notice to proceed
District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold offered this update via her newsletter to constituents:
On June 3, both WSOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the West Seattle Bridge repair NEPA submittal. It is a major West Seattle Bridge repair benchmark and delivered well in advance of when it was anticipated.
SDOT submitted the signed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) form in late May. This NEPA approval helps keep the project on schedule. SDOT reported earlier this month that repairs are on schedule to be completed by mid-June 2022.
The Council has received the Quarter 1 2021 Capital project Watchlist reports. These are projects that the Council identifies by resolution each year to monitor risk factors including costs and schedule. There are requirement for quarterly updates for projects on the Watchlist, under legislation I sponsored in 2018. The reports provide a candid assessment of risks to cost and schedule for major projects.
Reduced reporting took place during 2020 due to COVID; regular reporting has now resumed. The Council resolution included the West Seattle Bridge; here’s the West Seattle Bridge 1st Quarter Watchlist report.
The key project risk identified is permitting, a common issue with major projects. Both environmental and railroad permits are needed for the bridge repair. As reported above, despite this risk, we got good news this month with approval of the required federal and state environmental review for the West Seattle Bridge repair. The best approach the city can take to address permitting risks is to have ongoing, timely coordination and information sharing with permitting agencies.
The Watch List report notes other potential risks, and mitigation plans.
First of all, lower bridge operations could interfere with temporary work plans. The mitigation plan to limit this risk is to use the general contractor/construction management (GC/CM) contracting method, which allows “for contractor input early in the design process so that this can be determined in advance of being onsite, and allow time for actual means and methods to be coordinated with the agencies.” SDOT expects to issue to the repair contractor the “notice to proceed” next week.
Secondly, “Pier 18 ground improvements include jet grouting for seismic improvements,” and permitting is a potential schedule risk. To mitigate this, SDOT notes that “if it presents a risk to the construction start, this work can be removed and performed under a separate contract. It is not required to rehabilitate the high bridge and return traffic.”
For Reconnect West Seattle work, the primary risk is crew capacity, though SDOT has prioritized this program for delivery of the projects within it.
More detail about budgeting is available in the Watch List report. The bridge repair remains on schedule for mid-June completion, with repairs for the lower bridge to be completed by the end of the 3rd quarter of 2022.
Here is the complete set of watchlist reports: Quarter 1 2021 Capital project watchlist reports.