Electricians Alex Padilla (left) and Andy Graves work on installing lights at the Grand Avenue Park Bridge in Everett on July 1. Construction on the new $20 million utility span and walkway is set to wrap by the end of the month. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Electricians Alex Padilla (left) and Andy Graves work on installing lights at the Grand Avenue Park Bridge in Everett on July 1. Construction on the new $20 million utility span and walkway is set to wrap by the end of the month. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Everett’s Grand Avenue bridge getting closer to opening

Construction is set to finish later this month. But don’t expect a grand opening party.

EVERETT — People could soon cross the new Grand Avenue Park Bridge.

Since last fall the structure has tantalized onlookers and passersby because it appears to be ready. In September, crews swung the bridge span up and over the bluff to the east and secured it to the park landing and elevator shaft tower to the west. But there was a lot of work left then, and plenty remains now.

If crews can keep their pace without any coronavirus or weather disruptions, construction on the new $20 million utility span and walkway could wrap by the end of July. The city of Everett expects it to open for use this summer. When it does, it’ll conclude years of planning and over a century of roundabout detours from the Northwest Neighborhood to the waterfront.

“You look out there and see how close we are, but yet it feels really far,” said Kari Quaas, who leads the Northwest Neighborhood Association. “I joke about putting a zipline down to Scuttlebutt.”

Despite the pandemic shuttering plenty of sectors, including construction, none of the contractor’s workers tested positive for COVID-19, that the city was aware of. The state’s stay-home guidelines this year affected some of the project’s suppliers of concrete, landscaping and steel but didn’t result in any missed work days, Everett spokesperson Kathleen Baxter said in an email.

But delays struck the project originally envisioned to open in 2017 and budgeted at $16 million, then again in 2018, anyway.

The Grand Avenue Park pedestrian and utility bridge, seen here still under construction, links residential north Everett with the waterfront. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

The Grand Avenue Park pedestrian and utility bridge, seen here still under construction, links residential north Everett with the waterfront. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

From 16th Street, the bridge goes over the bluff, rail tracks and West Marine View Drive, where it connects to a tower with an elevator and stairs on Port of Everett property. Crossing the rail lines required coordination with BNSF, the railroad company that had final authorization to close the tracks, and the Snohomish County Public Utility District because of the power lines it is beneath so crews could hoist the steel into place from below.

About 1 million pounds and a football field long, the steel bridge will support people and utility pipelines. The old pipes were deteriorated underground and exposed to damage from landslides. Under the bridge, those lines are accessible for maintenance and inspection.

Two switchbacks connect people from Grand Avenue Park to the bridge, which has a slope of 4% from east to west. The color will remain rust red because the steel sides were pre-weathered to reduce maintenance as the layer of rust prevents inner layers from oxidizing.

Eventually, a city inspector will take a final walkthrough, with facilities staff evaluating the elevator, public works employees reviewing the utility lines and lighting. The Washington State Department of Transportation will inspect it and check all paperwork, too, Baxter said.

“We’re looking forward to more walkers in the neighborhood,” Quaas said.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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