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Mayor Harrell: City Remains Committed to West Seattle Bridge Repair as Continued Concrete Strike Threatens Reopening Schedule

Other critical projects impacted by the strike include Waterfront Seattle Program, Madison RapidRide G Line, Ship Canal Water Quality Project, Vision Zero 23rd Ave Corridor, Sidewalk, and Citywide Accessibility Improvements

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that the region’s contract strike would delay the reopening schedule for the West Seattle Bridge program if it continues past February 20. The potential delay is due to the need this month for specialized concrete inside the bridge for critical post-tensioning work, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) construction timeline. 

“Repair of the West Seattle bridge remains one of the City of Seattle’s highest priorities. While the Seattle Department of Transportation, contractors, and community partners have worked tirelessly to keep the West Seattle Bridge reopening on track for mid-2022, this continued strike threatens to delay that schedule,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “For an on-time opening, concrete companies and workers must return to mediation and reach a fair agreement – further delay and uncertainty is untenable for hundreds of thousands of neighbors across West Seattle, our city, and the entire region.”  

While other areas of repair on the bridge can continue, and while SDOT has worked closely with contractors to reorder the repair process and minimize potential delays, the West Seattle Bridge program requires concrete for  completion. Work includes the specialized concrete blocks and structures to hold new steel cables, which are essential to strengthen the bridge. The length of a possible schedule delay would be determined by the length of the strike. 

Projects across City of Seattle departments are being impacted by the concrete strike, including other SDOT priorities, as nearly all SDOT work requires concrete at some point. Other key projects that have, or may have, schedule impacts or where key milestones may not be met include: 

  • Waterfront Seattle Program 
  • Madison Street RapidRide G Line 
  • Ship Canal Water Quality Control Project 
  • Vision Zero 23rd Avenue Corridor 
  • American with Disabilities Act Improvements citywide, including curb ramp and sidewalk installation 

SDOT and the West Seattle Bridge contractor have reordered the sequence of work activities on the West Seattle Bridge to respond to the strike. The original schedule called for concrete early this month. In response, they adapted the approach to reduce the number of concrete deliveries to the bridge.  Unfortunately, even with this adaption, the contractor would still need specialized concrete inside the bridge for critical post-tensioning work by February 20 to maintain the repair schedule at the current 6-day a week/10-hour a day level of effort.   

While the circumstances, level of impact on projects and communities, and length of delay are unique for each project, all will ultimately require concrete delivery to move forward. Schedule delays can also lead to additional costs due to construction inefficiencies, extra site maintenance, change order processes and more. 

“I have met with Teamsters representatives and leaders at the concrete companies on multiple occasions to stress the incredibly urgent need to come together and reach a resolution – this contractual dispute has unprecedented implications for the future of our city and the people who call it home,” said Mayor Harrell. “We support King County’s and other regional partners’ efforts to address this issue, and Seattle is exploring an array of potential emergency responses. That said, the most effective solution for all parties is simply for business and labor to reach a just agreement and for the strike to end.” 

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park) 

“The West Seattle Bridge is a critical lifeline not just for West Seattle residents and businesses, but for the entire region. Completing bridge repairs by mid-2022 as scheduled is our paramount responsibility. 

 “This closure has affected all of us. Our access to the rest of the city has been disrupted and delayed, businesses have been cut off from customers and their workers. Traffic detours through communities on the southern portion of the peninsula are becoming more and more unbearable. 

“The number of trucks using the (lower) Spokane Street Bridge across the Duwamish increased when Terminal 5 re-opened last month. This adds to the urgency of moving other vehicle traffic back on to the West Seattle Bridge as soon as possible. 

“We are just 245 yards – fewer than 30 truckloads – from the finish line. I call on concrete suppliers to reach agreement with Teamsters Local 174 as soon as possible to ensure completion of the West Seattle Bridge repair is as scheduled.” 

Councilmember Alex Pedersen, chair of the City’s Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee 

“Vital transportation projects needed for our safety and mobility — as well as the scarce tax dollars allocated to fund them — are sitting idle and becoming at risk due to this excessively long concrete strike and so I believe all of Seattle would benefit if everyone got back to the negotiating table to resolve this labor dispute as soon as possible.” 

Interim SDOT Director Kristen Simpson 

“Concrete is an essential part of our many construction projects and a core component of our City’s transportation infrastructure. SDOT’s concrete work ranges from ongoing repair and maintenance of streets to constructing new curb ramps to building major projects like the Waterfront Seattle Program. While this is a challenging time for everyone involved, SDOT supports a fair resolution among the parties. In the near term, we’re continuing work that doesn’t require concrete and partnering with our contractors to reorder the sequence of work activities to minimize project completion delays. We remain hopeful a resolution is near.”