SEATTLE — Despite still being on strike, concrete drivers went back to work Tuesday morning to begin making deliveries to the West Seattle Bridge repair project.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) said the initial concrete pours will be for the expansion joints. Then, additional pours will go inside the bridge's enhanced post-tensioning system that will bolster the repaired bridge.
Once the concrete is poured and dried, SDOT said the systems will be able to hold more than 20 million pounds of force for decades.
Mayor Bruce Harrell and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who represents West Seattle, issued statements marking the important deliveries.
“We are now just 245 cubic yards, just 30 truckloads, of specialized concrete from reconnecting Seattle. My top priority remains ensuring this critical lifeline, not just for West Seattle residents and businesses, but our entire region is completed as soon as possible. Today, the finish line is in sight,” Herbold said in a statement.
SDOT said it is “encouraged” that the work has resumed after being delayed by the ongoing strike, but crews will need to see how smoothly deliveries go over the next month or so before releasing an update regarding the timing of the bridge’s reopening. It was initially scheduled to reopen back sometime in mid-2022, but the city warned that if concrete work didn't resume on the bridge by February, the completion date would likely be moved back.
The repairs are expected to last until roughly 2060, at which point the bridge will likely need to be replaced. SDOT is already looking at potential replacement designs, looking to have the replacement bridge complete in time for the current bridge’s demise.
Meanwhile, the concrete workers strike has now stretched into its fifth month with seemingly little progress toward a solution, bringing most of the region’s construction projects to a standstill.
The crisis has even prompted King County Executive Dow Constantine to propose developing a publicly owned concrete manufacturing facility so that the region’s concrete supply is never cut off again.
Harrell has also stepped in to offer Seattle City Hall as a neutral meeting ground for the workers union and the construction companies to negotiate a new contract.
"Reopening the West Seattle Bridge is the top transportation priority for my team and getting concrete today is an encouraging step that brings us closer to that goal. Throughout this strike, I’m continuing to have intense discussions with both sides to urge a fair resolution to this contract dispute,” Harrell said in a statement, adding, “These first concrete deliveries on the West Seattle Bridge provide a path forward for other projects across the region that still await concrete deliveries, and I’ll continue to stay engaged and provide my support for all parties ready to find common ground."