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SDOT sets West Seattle Bridge reopening, says concrete strike delayed it

More than two years after the West Seattle Bridge closed, the Seattle Department of Transportation announced when it will reopen.

SEATTLE — The West Seattle Bridge is expected to reopen the week of Sept. 12, more than two years after it closed due to cracks that were deemed unsafe.

The West Seattle Bridge is historically the city’s most-used bridge, carrying an average of 100,000 vehicles per day, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

The reopening timeline is several months behind when the city previously projected the bridge could reopen. The city blamed the delay on a months-long concrete strike, which has also impacted other high-profile projects throughout the region. SDOT’s contractor originally planned to begin pouring concrete at the beginning of the year but didn’t start the process until mid-April.

Crews finished pouring structural concrete on May 26.

Before the bridge can reopen, crews still need to finish injecting epoxy to fill cracks, wrapping carbon fiber to add strength and post-tensioning with steel cables to compress the concrete.

Although SDOT said it would hold its contractor accountable to meet the new timeline, it also warned that the remaining work was “challenging and complex” and cautioned that there could be unforeseen challenges ahead that could impact the schedule.

The 40-year-old bridge closed March 23, 2020 – which was the same day Gov. Jay Inslee issued a stay-home order due to COVID-19 – after inspectors discovered rapidly growing cracks in the structure.

SDOT completed emergency repairs in 2020 to prevent further cracking and began final repairs in 2021.

At the time of the closure, the city was deciding whether to repair the bridge, which could add 15 to 40 years to its lifespan, or replace it, which would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars and kept the roadway closed until 2026 with a full replacement.

When then-Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the city would repair the bridge, she said one of the key reasons was economic recovery, which relies on mobility.

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