By SPENCER PAULEY
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — Three decades-old bridges in Seattle will see needed repairs and safety upgrades after the city is awarded nearly $15 million in federal funding.
The city of Seattle was awarded funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The $15 million will be split three ways to repair the South Spokane Street viaduct located in southern downtown, the Jose Rizal bridge that connects the International District to Beacon Hill and the 15th Avenue NW, and Leary Way NW Bridge in the Ballard District.
According to the city, the average age of bridges in Seattle is nearly 60 years old.
Seattle owns 125 bridges, but Kristen Simpson, the interim director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, said the department is responsible for nearly 320 bridges. She noted the city’s emphasis on maintaining the old bridges to keep them safe for daily commuters.
“We build our bridges to the highest safety standards, and once constructed, crews continue to inspect, monitor, preserve and maintain them to keep them safe and stable,” Ms. Simpson said in a statement. “Bridges are important for all kinds of travelers, and so SDOT will keep making proactive investments to ensure we can count on these bridges to serve our community for generations.”
The South Spokane Street viaduct receives $5 million of federal funds for repairs to the existing deck. The Jose Rizal bridge is using $5 million to remove lead paint on the bridge and repaint it afterward. And lastly, the 15th Avenue NW and Leary Way NW Bridge are given $4.5 million out of the remaining federal funds for earthquake safety upgrades, according to the city of Seattle.
“Thank you to our federal partners for sharing our commitment to modernizing our aging bridges and infrastructure,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said. “This is the kind of targeted funding that helps us strengthen and improve the bridges that all types of travelers, from motorists to bicyclists and pedestrians, can rely on to get around our city. We’ll continue to design and pursue major projects and needed investments that improve our infrastructure systems, ensuring Seattle has a safe, efficient, and reliable transportation system for all.”
In Seattle’s 2022 budget, the city dedicated approximately $16.3 million toward bridges and structures. The Biden administration has given the city of Seattle more than $150 million for “essential city projects,” according to the city.
SDOT stated the city had completed 32 “bridge seismic retrofit projects” over the last 30 years. The department also plans to complete nine more projects by 2025.