Kenmore recently secured $28 million in total grants to fund the West Sammamish Bridge Replacement Project, which is currently being designed and scheduled to break ground in early 2019.
The project will replace the southbound bridge that was built in 1938 and has had weight restrictions since 2014. The northbound bridge will remain and the overall project will also expand the pedestrian walkways and establish bike lanes from Northeast 170th Street to Northeast 175th Street.
“We’ve monitored it and made sure its safe, but it needs to be replaced,” said Kenmore Mayor David Baker.
Baker added that they’re also building a viewing platform in the center of the bridge for people to look out over the water and enjoy the hydroplane races in the spring.
According to John Vicente, the city’s capital projects manager, the biggest benefits beyond roadway safety will be the non-motorized access through the new bike lanes and wider sidewalk that will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
King County inspected the bridge and gave it a 6.4 rating out of 100 after the city noticed deterioration in 2013. Vicente said this is similar to a test score and while the bridge failed badly, it remains safe to operate.
“We need to replace it as soon as we can before we need to add more restrictions,” he said. “If it’s not replaced, then it’ll be forced to close.”
The $28 million in grant funds covers most of the estimated $31.7 3million project costs. The city hopes to continue to lower the local contribution but expects it to end up around 10 percent of the total costs or about $3 million.
The revenue sources for matching funds are listed below.
Kenmore local funds: $3.76 million
Connecting Washington (state): $8 million
Bridge Advisory Committee (federal): $12 million
Surface Transportation Program (federal): $1.06 million
Transportation Improvement Board (state): $6.9 million
The total comes to $31.73 million.
“We’ve managed to get a lot of different grant money and have almost the whole project funded,” Baker said. “The train is running and it’s a little too late to stop it, so it’s going to be done.”
Currently, the 80-year-old bridge prohibits travel for three-axle vehicles weighing more than 16 tons, five axles more than 25 tons and seven axles more than 27 tons. These restrictions only apply to the southbound bridge, the northbound bridge is in much better condition, according to Vicente, as it was built in the 1970s.
The project has been in the design phase since 2015 and city staff expect to finalize plans this fall. Vicente said they hope to begin demolition and construction in the first quarter of 2019 and expect the build to take about three years.
Construction will unfortunately cause unpredictable and periodic closures that will depend on demolition work and material transportation, he said.
City Manager, Rob Karlinsey said they’ll occasionally keep all four lanes open but he doesn’t want to get hopes up.
“It’s already a congested area and it’s going to get worse,” he said.
Vicente added, “It’s going to have a big impact. Traffic is not going to feel like it does today, it’s definitely going to be noticeable and unavoidable, (but) we’ll do whatever we can to minimize it.”