Page Two articles are from our reader community.

The Eastlake Community Council (ECC) believes that SDOT has chosen a project scope for the Fairview Avenue North bridge project (funded as part of the Move Seattle levy) that is financially wasteful and unnecessarily harmful to local businesses and to people traveling through this area on all modes. A summary of this issue can be found in this letter that ECC sent to SDOT on August 9th:

SDOT has argued that a full reconstruction of the bridges is necessary. However, a Value Engineering study commissioned by SDOT indicated that in fact, a partial reconstruction would not only be viable but would reduce project cost by $8M. This information was only obtained after a public records request following SDOT’s failure to share the VE study with the public. Even worse, there is no indication that SDOT ever discussed these study findings and a possibly reduced project scope with any other relevant stakeholders including the Mayor, the City Council, or Metro.

Seattle has many pressing transportation funding needs, and funds spent on an over-scoped project tradeoff with funds that could be put to use elsewhere. Moreover, a full reconstruction of the bridge will require a lengthy, complete closure of the bridge, which will cause significant delays to transit on a major corridor. Any of the proposed detour routes (which are still not finalized) will pose major logistical challenges and will be both inconvenient and potentially unsafe, especially for bicyclists and pedestrians.

ECC would welcome your help on this issue. We are asking for STB readers to call or write to their elected officials (such as the Mayor and the City Council’s Transportation Committee) in reference to the letter posted above encouraging SDOT to conduct a full accounting of the partial reconstruction option. This step is necessary  in order to ensure that our transportation dollars are spent wisely and in a way that does not cause unnecessary harm to commuters and businesses.


7 Replies to “The Failings of SDOT’s Fairview Ave N Bridge Project”

  1. Here is some additional information from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) about the Fairview Avenue N Bridge Replacement project that readers may find helpful.

    Early on SDOT did consider retrofitting the east bridge and replacing only the west bridge. However, we rejected the retrofit concept for these reasons:

    1) The projected $8 million in savings doesn’t include the expense of the retrofit, which would use 50 percent or more of those savings.

    2) It would not extend the useful life of the east bridge so the span would still need to be replaced in approximately 20 years.

    3) A retrofit does not address the seismic risks facing the existing east bridge. To meet current seismic standards its bridge shafts need to be four times deeper.

    4) The old bridge would be pinned between ZymoGenetics and the new west bridge, which would add cost and additional risk to its future replacement.

    In short, SDOT concluded a retrofit was not cost effective and had significant fatal flaws. You can read more about the project here:

    1. Allie,

      The Value Engineering (VE) Study team reviewed SDOT’s prior work that considered a retrofit, the TS&L report and the Alternatives Analysis Discipline Report. In their analysis, the VE study team contradicted many of your points.

      Regarding the seismic condition of the east bridge, they wrote, “bridge’s piles should be retrofitted with fiber wrapping or steel jackets to improve seismic ductile performance. This should be all that is necessary to prevent collapse.”

      Regarding the bridge’s lifespan, they wrote that the “condition of the bridge is good in general,” that “it is in much better load-carrying and seismic condition than many of the City’s bridge structures,” and that “girder ends should be repaired by epoxy injection and fiber wrapping. This would extend the girder life.”

      Regarding the east bridge being pinned in, the VE study team wrote that the bridges could be mutually supportive: “A seismic strategy to design the new west bridge to help laterally support the east bridge could be employed. This should also improve the seismic resistivity of the east bridge by reducing the demand displacements.”

      It should be noted that SDOT has never made this VE study publicly available on the project website that Allie linked to. SDOT only released it after they were required to by a public records request. We invite anyone who is interested to review it on the ECC website at The retrofit option is discussed in Proposal B1 beginning on page 37.

      None of the materials on the project website discuss or substantiate the 20 year post-retrofit bridge lifespan. Nor do the SDOT website materials discuss, let alone itemize, the likely costs of a retrofit.

      Allie, can you provide any documentation that shows that SDOT evaluated these issues _after_ the completion of the Value Engineering study in October 2014? Our review of materials obtained through a public records request found no such documentation.

    2. Allie,

      In the letter that ECC sent to SDOT on August 9 (that Eric linked to), several questions were listed:

      After the completion of the Value Engineering study, did SDOT:
      a.) conduct any further constructability, seismic, or cost analysis about rehabilitating
      the east bridge?
      b.) conduct any studies about a required timeline for rehabilitating the east bridge?
      c.) conduct any studies of the impact on the public (in terms of local access, detours for
      all modes, traffic delays, and business disruptions) for rehabilitating the east bridge?
      d.) discuss this option with any agencies or offices outside of SDOT such as the
      Mayor, the City Council, or King County Metro?

      As someone in the affected neighborhood and as a taxpayer, I would like to know the answers to these questions and see any documentation supporting those answers.

      Phyllis Hatfield

      1. I would also like to know the answers to these questions and see any documentation supporting those answers.

Comments are closed.