SDOT is keeping all four options analyzed in a Magnolia Bridge Planning Study on the table, but residents at a Thursday night open house were adamant a 1:1 replacement is the only acceptable alternative.

The transportation department released the third-party report by SCJ Alliance Consulting Services in May, and SDOT staff fielded questions during a sparsely attended open house on June 7, but couldn’t answer the burning question as to when a decision on replacing the Magnolia Bridge would be made.

An in-kind replacement of the Magnolia Bridge would be the most expensive option — $340 million to $420 million — but is also one of two options that “consistently performed best,” according to the report.

SDOT project manager Kit Loo said 2024 would likely be the earliest that money could be invested into either replacing the bridge or executing one of the three alternatives evaluated in the study. That’s when the current Levy to Move Seattle expires, and it’s likely another levy would be needed. The current levy is funding the study of 10 Seattle bridges, with Magnolia being the first, and the Ballard Bridge next on deck.

There is no funding currently that could cover the cost of any of the options in the Magnolia Bridge Planning Study.

There are also unknowns in the corridor around the Magnolia Bridge that could change the attractiveness of the options, Loo said, such as the route for the future Sound Transit light rail extension to Ballard and the potential for the Washington National Guard to move out of Seattle, leaving its Interbay armory open for redevelopment.

The highest-ranking option is to construct an Armory Way Bridge, north of the armory site, into Magnolia — over the BNSF rail yard — and a new “West Uplands Perimeter Road to Smith Cove Park and the Elliott Bay Marina.

That option is estimated to cost $200 million to $350 million.

Just demolishing the existing Magnolia Bridge is estimated to cost about $6.7 million.

Washington 36th District Rep. Gael Tarleton added a proviso to a House transportation bill last session that included funding for a Ballard-Interbay Regional Transportation System plan and report to be developed by the City of Seattle in partnership with King County, the Port of Seattle, Sound Transit, the Washington State Military Department and WSDOT. Total funding approved in the bill was $700,000 to develop the plan.

“The plan must examine replacement of the Ballard bridge and the Magnolia bridge, which was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake,” the bill states. “The city must provide a report on the plan that includes recommendations to the Seattle city council, King county council, and the transportation committees of the legislature by November 1, 2020. The report must include recommendations on how to maintain the current and future capacities of the Magnolia and Ballard bridges, an overview and analysis of all plans between 2010 and 2020 that examine how to replace the Magnolia bridge, and recommendations on a timeline for constructing new Magnolia and Ballard bridges.”

There currently is no timeline for replacing these bridges, and the threat of another earthquake on the horizon has Magnolia residents impatiently waiting for the city to commit to one.

Magnolia Community Council members Steve DeForest and Bruce Carter were at the June 6 open house. DeForest said the city council has “ducked the issue” for the past five years. The community council is on record as in favor of a 1:1 replacement, Carter said. For him, the study has not changed that position.

Magnolia resident Gretchen Taylor had thoughts about the three alternatives to an in-kind bridge replacement.

“They suck,” she said. “They do. What happens here is we feel like we’re being sold.”

There are 18,000 vehicles that use Magnolia Bridge each day, Taylor said, and the Armory Way Bridge option would divert cars to Thorndyke Avenue West. That means people wanting to get to the top of the hill more quickly will turn right after the bridge and take West Boston Street, said resident Diane Spaulding, who also favors a 1:1 replacement.

Loo confirmed there are about 18,000 vehicles that cross the Magnolia Bridge daily, and about 45,000 for the Ballard Bridge.

District 7 city council candidate Andrew Lewis said he read the study, and he still wants a 1:1 replacement.

“It’s not even about the cars,” he said. “It’s about the buses.”

There are 265 buses taking the Magnolia Bridge each day, Lewis said, and they shouldn’t be displaced.

Lewis said he would build a regional coalition to push for state funding, adding he would also seek financial support for the bridge replacement from the Port of Seattle and BNSF, which helped fund the original bridge’s construction. He does not support using a local improvement district to replace the bridge, which would require Magnolia property owners to pay a portion of the cost.

“The problem with a LID,” DeForest said, “is it will divide the neighborhood. People to the north will not want to pay for a southern bridge.”

Residents at the June 6 meeting also wanted to know the lifespan of the bridge; would it be too dangerous to use at some point.

Ducey said the bridge receives annual monitoring and maintenance, and there is no expectation it will close in the near future.

When SDOT and the community agreed to a full replacement, back in 2006, plans were to keep the original bridge operating as long as possible, Loo said. A new bridge would have been constructed south of the existing bridge.

If that option is ever executed, there would likely be more than a year when the Magnolia Bridge would be closed, so final connections to a new structure were made, Loo said.