Work on 102-year-old Broadway bridge will be delayed

EVERETT — A hobbled downtown bridge may survive a bit longer into decrepit old age, but its days are still numbered.

Everett city engineers had hoped to begin tearing down the 102-year-old Broadway bridge early this year.

Funding issues knocked that schedule out of whack.

The city now hopes to put the project out to bid by the end of June — about eight months later than anticipated.

“We don’t expect the full closure of the bridge to happen until early 2015, but that will be up to the contractor,” city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said. “The closure would have started this spring, so it’s close to a year delay.”

The Broadway bridge span crosses the railroad tracks between Hewitt Avenue and California Street.

Initial preparation could be under way by fall.

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe policy, however, prevents construction work from taking place above the tracks from October through December. The railroad imposes the restriction to keep rail traffic moving during the busy holiday season, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said.

The Broadway bridge carries an average of 30,000 cars daily.

The 1912 bridge was last renovated in 1931. At least a half-dozen sister bridges built over the railroad tracks around the same time already have been replaced, Pembroke said.

City inspectors for years have warned that the Broadway span was in need of replacement.

In 2008, engineers placed load restrictions on the bridge. They also placed the shoulders off limits to parking and asked truck drivers to stay in the middle lanes, where the structure is stronger.

Inspectors returned within the past month and declared the structure safe to use for the near future, Pembroke said.

Once under way, construction is expected to last up to a year.

The planned closure would prevent people from driving Broadway between Hewitt Avenue and California Street for up to a year. The city intends to warn drivers well in advance, through signs along I-5 and Highway 529.

The bridge replacement budget is $13.6 million, Pembroke said. That includes design work. Construction itself is estimated to cost up to $9 million.

Funding issues came up last year when a state bridge grant the city had been counting on didn’t come through, she said. Instead, the city plans to cover a $970,000 shortfall with traffic mitigation fees that it has collected from developers.

BNSF is contributing more than $800,000 toward the project.

Much of the remaining funding comes from a federal grant.

The new bridge should look similar to the arched Pacific Avenue bridge near Everett Station.

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

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