The United States Department of Transportation has awarded Seattle a $11.2 million infrastructure grant to partially cover costs to repair the cracked West Seattle Bridge.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, said she received the news Friday in a call with Pete Buttigieg, the federal transportation secretary. Jayapal said she’s personally talked about the bridge with Buttigieg three or four times, not counting staff messages.
The money comes from the ongoing INFRA program, in which regions apply for grants. The USDOT has written a notice of the West Seattle bridge award, and may announce other winners shortly for the available $889 million nationwide.
“These are incredibly competitive,” said Jayapal, a West Seattle resident, by phone Friday. “It’s rare that you get one of these on a first-time request.”
The award is about half of the $21.6 million the Seattle Department of Transportation requested in its grant application dated March 19. Jayapal said she’s so elated to win at all, that questions about receiving less didn’t come up.
SDOT closed the seven-lane crossing March 23, 2020, when cracks discovered seven years ago accelerated at dangerous rates. The bridge is now stabilized, and repair contractor Kraemer Co. is expected to finish full repairs in June 2022.
The city’s total West Seattle bridge-related budget is estimated at $175 million, of which the SDOT says it previously secured $125 million, including $16 million federal money. . Construction for bridge repairs is estimated at $43.4 million, including post-tensioning steel cables to tighten three concrete spans. The lower swing bridge remains open but also needs $11.4 million in repairs, including girder strengthening and new rotating parts.
SDOT is spending millions more for emergency stabilization, bridge engineering studies, improved traffic signals, maintenance for detour routes, traffic-slowing humps on side streets, and preliminary plans for a new high bridge — which won’t be needed for maybe 30 years unless repairs fail.
Seattle’s $11.2 million doesn’t necessarily mean more West Seattle roadwork will occur, but it could reduce pressure on other projects within SDOT’s $608 million 2021 budget, or avoid higher city debt.
Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both D-Wash., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, also signed a letter of support for the grant money.
The high and low bridges are the busiest city-owned corridor, normally serving about 120,000 daily travelers. Besides that impact, Jayapal said she impressed upon Buttigieg how ports and trade depend on easy access near the bridges.
“The federal government seems very far away, but we’re putting money in the people’s pockets through the child care tax credit, the survival checks, and now by actually helping repair the bridge that allows people to go to work,” she said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said SDOT’s emergency closure of the West Seattle Bridge occurred March 21, 2020.