Everett seeking bids for Broadway bridge repair

EVERETT — The long-delayed replacement of the Broadway Bridge moves forward this week when the city of Everett starts advertising for construction bids.

In June, the City Council signed off on the $13.6 million project after numerous delays.

The 102-year-old bridge carries 40,000 vehicles per day over BNSF Railway Co.’s main line. It was refurbished once in its long life, in 1931.

In recent years, the city worked to extend the bridge’s life while it moved forward on the project.

Last month, the city extended a weight restriction for the outer lanes to cover the entire bridge: No vehicles over 11 tons are permitted.

That was more of a precaution than a danger sign, city engineer Ryan Sass said.

“The bridge inspector himself didn’t notice much difference from the 2013 inspection to 2014,” Sass said.

The most recent delays came from the discovery of looser than expected soil under the bridge and roadway, necessitating a more complex design for the new bridge, Sass said.

In addition, negotiating with BNSF is never easy, even when the railroad itself wants to get the bridge repaired.

“It’s not that they’re dragging their feet at all, it’s just negotiating with them takes time,” Sass said.

The bridge is owned by BNSF, and at the completion of the project the ownership will be transferred to the city.

Financing the project also proved complicated, and this year the state Department of Transportation reduced the amount of federal grant money it would provide to the project by about $970,000 to $7.6 million.

The city filled the gap by redirecting funding from the city’s separate funds for utilities, traffic mitigation and large capital projects.

The railroad contributed $824,000 to the total cost, although many city leaders had hoped for more.

But due to the way federal laws are written, once federal money got involved in a railroad-owned bridge, BNSF’s participation was strictly voluntarily, Sass said.

The city will officially start accepting construction bids in August, but the bridge won’t be closed and removed until Jan. 1, because the railroad prohibits any work done on the bridge during the months of October through December.

The holiday season sees the heaviest freight traffic, and even during the rest of the year, work on the bridge would have to stop when trains run by underneath — an average of 44 times per day.

Instead, the contractor will spend the fall building a detour route to be in place by Jan. 5, when the bridge can finally be closed.

The new bridge will be slightly elevated above where the current bridge deck lies, and the single 12-inch water main that runs below the deck will be replaced by two 8-inch mains.

This should provide the railroad with one more foot of clearance for its trains, a few inches higher than that of the railway tunnel that runs under downtown, Sass said.

The new bridge, with wider lanes and no weight restrictions, is now expected to be finished by fall 2015, but the delays the project has suffered has city leaders wondering about future big projects.

The economic downturn undercut many traditional sources of funding major capital projects, City Council President Jeff Moore said.

“Even when the economy returns there’s no certainly those mechanisms will be restored,” Moore said.

“We’re in a new normal, from federal funding to state funding,” he added.

It’s unlikely the city will need to do a major overpass project soon, Moore said, but when other large projects come up, it will probably take more foresight and planning to bring them to fruition.

“It will probably involve building a case for funding in a competitive environment, (as opposed to) when the economy was strong and resources were more plentiful,” Moore said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Mill Creek councilman no longer lives in city, panel finds

The Canvassing Board determined Sean Kelly is not eligible to vote there.

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

The beavers weren’t happy, either, about Mill Creek flooding

A tree fell on their dam, sending a rush of water into a neighborhood near Jackson High School.

Two windsurfers rescued from Port Susan near Kayak Point

The men had failed to return to shore during Sunday’s windstorm.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Stranger offered candy to student walking home from school

The Granite Falls School District is warning families about… Continue reading

Coming together as family

Special-needs students and teachers at the Transition Center cooked up a Thanksgiving feast.

Lynnwood’s property tax promise to homeowners sort of true

They were told consolidation of fire departments would save, but new rates likely will be more.

Woman who died in 5-car crash identified

A car driven by Susan E. Sill rear-ended another vehicle Wednesday on Smokey Point Boulevard.

Most Read