Seattle bridge repair effort advances but future of structure remains unclear

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Seattle Bridge
Preliminary work began July 27 on a bridge that was declared a “civil emergency” by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan earlier this month. (Courtesy: Seattle Department of Transportation Blog)

SEATTLE — Workers on Monday, July 27, managed to attach two large platforms to the underside of a damaged commuter bridge that was declared a “civil emergency” by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan earlier this month.

The platforms were put in place to allow crews to begin work to stabilize the bridge, KOMO-TV reported. However, officials say they still don’t know whether or not the repairs they are set to start will permanently fix the bridge.

The West Seattle Bridge that links the West Seattle neighborhood to the rest of the city has been closed since March, after officials said cracks in the structure’s underside were growing rapidly, and it’s possible the bridge may need replacement.

Engineers and officials from the city’s Department of Transportation are considering six proposals about the bridge’s future. Three of the proposals involve continuing repairs that would last through 2022 and make the bridge usable for at least 15 more years. The other three proposals involve replacing the structure with a new bridge or tunnel that would not open until 2025 or 2026 but would last longer.

Officials say the bridge is in better shape than they initially expected; that assessment will factor into the final decision, expected in October, on what to do about the bridge.

The two work platforms that were erected this week are 60 feet (18 meters) wide and can hold 10 workers each. Workers on the platforms will inject epoxy into the bridge’s cracks to seal them; then they will install cables inside the hollow part of the bridge to stabilize the structure.

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