SEATTLE — The "most important work" on the West Seattle Bridge project remains before repairs to the bridge are complete, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
The bridge is expected to reopen the week of Sept. 12, which is a few months later than the initial estimate. The delay was caused by a months-long concrete strike, which prevented the contractor working on the West Seattle Bridge from receiving concrete deliveries for two months.
During the strike, the contractor was able to rearrange the sequence of some work on the bridge in order to make progress while other operations were stalled, but much of the remaining work has to be done in a specific order, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
The department said "the most important work" on the bridge is still left to go: the bridge post-tensioning system.
The process involves allowing concrete to cure, installing 11,000 feet of ducts, installing 46 miles of post-tensioning strands, allowing carbon-fiber wrapping to cure, load testing and inspecting the bridge repairs, closing holes in the bridge deck and demobilizing the work site.
In order to expedite some of the remaining work, projects like completing sign structures, bridge deck repair and concrete overlay on the Fauntleroy Expressway, concrete panel replacement, traffic control signs and road striping, illumination and streetlight restoration are happening at the same time as work on the bridge's post-tensioning system, SDOT said.
Crews are currently working 10-hour days, six days a week to complete the remaining repairs on the bridge at capacity and "in the interest of worker safety," SDOT said.
Certain factors like bad weather and any possible delays in future concrete deliveries and ongoing worker availability could impact the September reopening date, SDOT said. However, the contractor working on the bridge "feels confident about the September reopening plan."
In order to account for those risk factors, SDOT is prioritizing carbon fiber wrapping on good weather days, prioritizing contractor work on the high bridge over the low bridge, closely coordinating with concrete suppliers, requiring workers to follow COVID-19 prevention protocols and collaborating closely with agency partners.