Everett, railroad reach deal

EVERETT — The complete shutdown of a block of Broadway to replace a 101-year-old bridge appears on track to begin in spring or summer, a few months later than planned.

That’s possible now that Everett has reached agreements with Burlington Northern Santa Fe and all but one nearby property owner who could suffer disruption during construction. City engineers expect the work to take a year.

The 100-foot-long bridge spans railroad tracks between Hewitt Avenue and California street. From Broadway, drivers usually notice the bridge as a hump in the road.

The bridge’s only major renovation took place in 1931. Today, it carries about 40,000 cars per day.

During Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Councilman Ron Gipson questioned whether Everett should be paying for the work at all, despite years of planning. Gipson reasoned that since BNSF technically owns the structure, the railroad should pick up the tab if the bridge falls down.

“Once this contract is signed, this bridge is ours,” he said. “We’re not in the bridge business. We don’t need to acquire any more property.”

Five other council members disagreed and approved a contract with the railroad.

“The issue here is we have an agreement now to go forward and build a project that we have to build out of necessity in order to maintain a vital thoroughfare,” Councilman Paul Roberts said.

It is the city’s responsibility to maintain the four-lane roadway and sidewalks above the bridge deck.

The BNSF agreement was one box the city needed to check off before seeking construction bids. Another is making compensation arrangements with neighboring properties that will be affected by the work.

The city expects to put the project out to bid during the first quarter of 2014.

The total project cost is estimated at $12.4 million.

Everett’s share of the cost is $1.6 million, BNSF’s is about half that amount. The rest is covered by state and federal grants.

The construction itself is estimated at $9.3 million. The total amount includes related activity such as buying property and design work.

City engineers opted for a full shutdown of Broadway, rather than a partial one, to save an estimated $1 million and a year of construction on the project.

The city has planned extensive detours and intends to warn drivers well in advance of construction.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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