Part of the project includes adding more steel to the columns and support beams.
Part of the project includes adding more steel to the columns and support beams.

SDOT will begin work to seismically retrofit the West Howe Street Bridge this summer, reinforcing the 73-year-old concrete and steel structure to stand up to a thousand-year event.

Project manager Kit Loo went over the project with the Magnolia Community Council on Tuesday, April 16.

There are three spans under the bridge, which crosses over 32nd Avenue West and provides a connection to the southwest edge of Magnolia. Most work will occur underneath, Loo said, adding more steel to strengthen the columns and support beams. The bridge bearings at both ends of the bridge will also be replaced.

“It’s going to geometrically look about the same,” Loo said.

The project will go out to bid in May and the selected contractor will be issued a notice to proceed in July. Substantial completion of the project is expected by June 2020.

Seismically retrofitting the bridge will take 6-8 months, and then another four months will be spent painting the structure, which had previously been scheduled to take place in 2022. Loo said it made more sense to add that to the project now, as well as the removal of invasive vegetation under the bridge.

Magnolia Chamber of Commerce president Pat Craft said he wanted SDOT to add replacing the bridge railings to the project, as the spacing is unsafe and not up to today’s code requirements.

The bridge had joint repairs in 1975, resurfacing in 1976 and a rail replacement in 1987, which was up to code at the time.

Loo said there is no policy to provide rail upgrades as it did meet code when built, adding there isn’t money for it in the $4.5 million project budget. He said he would check to see if it could be added to the project, but the budget for bridge seismic retrofits is already underfunded; that’s why SDOT is focusing on completing more small projects rather than a few large ones.

There will need to be work on the expansion joints on the top portion of the bridge, and SDOT is planning on allowing for 2-3 weeks of full closures at night to get the project completed as quickly as possible, Loo said.

The staircase leading down to 32nd Avenue West will also likely need to be closed at times during the project.

The community council was curious as to the status of the Magnolia Bridge, which MCC and many residents in the neighborhood want to see replaced. A 1:1 replacement has been estimated to cost $340 million to $420 million.

Loo said Wes Ducey is project manager for the Magnolia Bridge, and residents should expect another outreach campaign to start in a few months, when traffic modeling and a planning study for the bridge is wrapped up.

Questions about the project can be sent to WHoweStBridge@seattle.gov.