By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
EVERETT — Drivers don’t usually plan how to get around a road closure six months ahead of time, but in this case it might be a good idea.
Broadway between Hewitt Avenue and California Street could be entirely closed for up to a year, beginning in early 2013, so the bridge over the railroad tracks at that location can be torn down and replaced.
Or, it could be partly closed for up to two years, Everett city engineer Ryan Sass said.
Either way, it’s a headache waiting to happen for the drivers who, combined, make 40,000 trips per day across the bridge.
There’s no getting around replacing the bridge, officials have said. The span, which looks more like a hump in the road, was built 100 years ago this summer and it’s been refurbished only once, in 1931.
Load restrictions were placed on the bridge in 2008. The bridge is weaker toward the edges than the middle, so trucks are asked to stay in the middle lanes. And parking is no longer allowed on the bridge.
The $9 million replacement project is being funded by roughly $8 million in federal bridge funds and $1 million in city funds, Sass said.
It’s not yet certain whether the city will opt for the one-year or two-year closure. The original plan was to keep half the bridge open for a year while crews tore down and rebuilt the other half, then keep the new half open while the second half is done.
But that would cause almost as much disruption during the construction period as closing the road entirely, and would take twice as long, Sass said.
“We can go from two years of traffic pain to one year of traffic pain,” he said. “We can have 100 percent pain for one year or 90 percent for two years.”
If the bridge is completely closed, it would take nine months to a year to rebuild, finishing in late 2013, Sass said.
The city is starting to plan detour routes. Signs warning drivers of the closure will be posted on northbound I-5 ahead of the Broadway exit and on southbound I-5 ahead of the Highway 529 exit in Marysville.
“Hopefully we would have two or three layers of peeling people off before they get to this location,” Sass said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about next year’s planned closure of Everett’s Broadway bridge at an open house scheduled from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Weyerhaeuser Room at Everett Station, 3201 Smith Ave.