520 Bridge pontoon overruns hit $81 million, more to come

WSDOT has released cost figures for repairs and design changes to the first pontoons built for the new 520 Bridge. The bill? $81 million. So far.

From The Seattle Times:

The state’s costs are $9.9 million to fix damage to the first batch, when a poorly designed corner section broke apart at Grays Harbor; another $48.8 million to seal cracks in the first batch, including the drydock work; and $22.4 million for extra work needed to strengthen the second batch. Construction is now under way on the third of six batches at Grays Harbor.

The overruns will be paid to contractor Kiewit-General through the project’s risk reserve fund (a sort of rainy day budget provision) which currently stands at $100 million after the charges announced today. Given that the change orders for the cycle 2 pontoons in the Aberdeen casting basin were $22 million, adding similar work for cycles 3-6 could approach draining the remaining reserve. Those cost figures will be finalized later this year.

With the pontoon repairs now well under way, WSDOT expects the new floating bridge to open in late-2015 or early-2016.

Si’ahl: Fledgling 520 Eagle Sticks Around

Image

Si’ahl, Eva and Albert’s 2013 eaglet, has learned to fly. However unlike last year’s siblings Si’ahl is staying in the Union Bay neighborhood.

In the last week Si’ahl has been seen on Foster Island, near the Broadmoor nest and multiple times near the Beaver Lodge Sanctuary (north of Madison Park) which is visible for bus riders on 520. See the photos and video. Learn what Si’ahl looks like so you can spot the fledgling yourself. Visit Union Bay Watch.

Photo roundup: Pontoon W heads back out to sea

Image: @bertandpatty

Image: @bertandpatty

The new 520 Bridge is on the move again. Tugboats Westrac and West Point towed the east end “Pontoon W” back out to Elliot Bay last night, on its way to a Harbor Island dry dock for structural repairs. Of all the recent pontoon movements through the Lake Washington Ship Canal, W’s retreat made for an awkward, if not surreal, scene.

Image: @HeatherGrafK5

Image: @HeatherGrafK5

Image: @andrewbernathy

Image: @andrewbernathy

Image: @stefgg

Image: @stefgg

Also surreal, this time-lapse video showing crews digging a 25′ trench and installing a fish culvert under 520 during last weekend’s closure:

 

 

 

 

 

 

City Council approves employee permits within Restricted Parking Zones

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously today to allow the Director of Transportation to grant parking permits to employees working within Restricted Parking Zones (RPZ). The legislation will allow employees, under certain conditions, to have parking privileges similar to residents living near commercial districts and light rail stations.

The legislation was proposed by Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen after local residents asked the city to give Montlake Elementary School teachers RPZ 1 permits, allowing them all-day access to on-street parking near the school. In recent years, as RPZ 1 has expanded throughout Montlake, school teachers were forced to park farther and farther away, or move their cars every 2 hours. To reduce the burden, some residents donated their guest parking passes to the school. This new legislation could change all of that…

This is where “under certain conditions” come into play. The new rules intend to allow permits for employees without good alternatives for parking, as determined by the director of SDOT. The Council adopted the following guidelines to inform each judgement call:

Among the criteria the Director shall consider in determining whether to grant requests for employee RPZ permits are:

1. Availability of on-street parking on non-RPZ- signed blocks that is within a reasonable walking distance of the employer;

2. Availability of alternate modes of transportation within a reasonable distance;

3. Availability of off-street parking within a reasonable distance;

4. Availability of on-street parking in the RPZ;

5. Time of day that employees work;

6. Number of permits requested by the employer;

7. Existence of other employers within the RPZ that could potentially also request employee permits; and

8. Other hardships that may exist.

For many Montlake residents the call is clear — teachers should be able to park near their school. Whether local businesses should also have the same privileges for their employees is perhaps not as clear. Implementing these new rules is now the pleasure of Seattle’s Director of Transportation.

Eaglet leaves the nest that Eddie built!

Eva and Albert’s eaglet learned to fly! It has been seen flying for the last two days and so far has been found in the nesting tree each morning. It will be fun to see how long this young bird remains around Broadmoor and Union Bay. In the meantime see if you can guess what the bird was eating this morning. To find out if you guessed right (and to see more photos) visit Union Bay Watch.Image

520 weekend closure comes with wicked I-405 twist + Falcon maintenance

20130712-065401.jpgImages: WSDOT Flickr stream

The 520 Bridge will close this weekend for its annual inspection and maintenance, from 11pm Friday to 5am Monday, as has become routine during 520 replacement construction over the past few years. But this won’t be a typical weekend shutdown. Crews will also close the northbound lanes of I-405 through Bellevue, complicating things for drivers detouring around Lake Washington.

Ouch. You’ve been warned.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” said WSDOT Northwest Regional Administrator Lorena Eng. “But combining it in one weekend helps reduce the number of closures we need this summer. We also want to avoid conflicts with special events like Seafair, the Bite of Seattle and the Bellevue Arts Festival.”

On northbound I-405, crews will replace all the concrete panels in the two left lanes between Southeast Eighth and Main streets. These panels – which stretch the length of a dozen football fields – are failing. Crews will also tear out and replace panels in many other locations. Panels in the two right lanes will be repaired later this summer.

On SR 520, bridge maintenance crews will inspect the floating bridge. This annual inspection includes checks of the electrical system and drawspan machinery. Crews will also tackle repair and maintenance tasks such as concrete and expansion joint repair. Eastside Transit and HOV project construction crews will take advantage of the closure to install an 11-foot-diameter, fish-friendly culvert beneath all lanes of SR 520 just west of I-405 and requires a multi-day closure to complete.

In other bridge news, state biologists recently climbed onto the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge to visit the peregrine falcon nest and tag this year’s babies. The falcons keep away pigeons and their paint eating poop which saves maintenance costs, so there.

20130712-072203.jpgIncoming!

More freeway falcon photos here.

Nighttime rail deliveries to UW Station set for July 8th-14th

Images: Sound Transit Flickr feed

Sound Transit construction crews are ready to lay tracks through the U-Link light rail tunnel under Montlake after installing rails from Capitol Hill Station to Downtown over the spring. Starting Monday, July 8th trucks carrying 60′ steel rails will begin a week of nighttime deliveries to UW Station. Sound Transit says to expect a bit more activity and noise around the job site than usual, as the rails are off-loaded and lowered into the station pit. From ST:

The trucks carrying 60’ lengths of rail will approach the construction site from the south via I-5 north, to SR520 and then to Montlake Blvd. After the delivery is complete, the rail will be lowered by crane into the station box where it will be welded and then installed in each tunnel.

To minimize traffic impacts from these large vehicles, delivery will take place during the nighttime hours of 8:00 pm and 6:00 am. Sound Transit’s contractor has obtained a temporary noise variance from the City of Seattle in order to deliver and unload the rail. What to expect during this work:

  • Increased truck activity near the site. There will be approximately 6 trucks delivering rail to the site per hour.
  • Intermittent noise from trucks entering the site and from crane operations.
  • Flashing lights from trucks.

You are always invited to contact me with any questions at 206-398-5300 or ulink@soundtransit.org. For issues that need immediate attention after normal business hours, call Sound Transit’s 24-hour Construction Hotline at (888) 298-2395.

The $1.9 billion U-Link light rail project remains under budget and on time for its scheduled opening in late-2016. Here’s to hoping crews take care and grind those welded rail joints nice and smooth