Safely (but loudly) breaking eggs to make an omelet

West Emerson Overpass Repair Project

The U-shaped loop of roadway just south of the Ballard Bridge that connects North Queen Ann with Fisherman’s Terminal and Magnolia is about to be closed through the end of year. The bottom of this bridge structure is just 15’6” above 15th Ave West and it has been repeatedly struck by over-height vehicles or their loads since it was built 55 years ago. As a result, the northern girder above the southbound lanes (the low spot) has chunks of concrete missing and its tensioning cables are broken in places and rusting away.

West Emerson Overpass Repair Projectpic2West Emerson Overpass Repair Projectpic1

Although the bridge is not in immediate danger of collapse, the girder and the structures above it have to be removed and replaced. Carefully cutting the overpass lengthwise and removing the 100 foot long northern edge of the girder in one piece would require closing 15th Avenue West for long periods, so instead:

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               We’re going to smash it apart where it sits and haul the rubble away!

This is probably a good time to apologize in advance for the UNAVOIDABLY LOUD racket caused by busting up and hauling off a concrete bridge, or even a part of it.

Work will begin at 8PM on Friday October 10 and demolition will proceed quickly (but safely). However but some folks are bound to lose some sleep before 15th Ave West reopens to traffic the next morning. The next night, Saturday, October 11, we will close 15th Ave West at 8PM again for a comparatively quieter job – hoisting a replacement girder into place. During these two nights traffic on 15th Avenue West will be reduced to 1 lane in each direction and detoured around the demolition.

Of course we have to close the Nickerson-Emerson Overpass before we demolish even a part of it, so that will begin on Thursday October 9th. The overpass will not reopen until the end of the year, after the girder, curb, guard rail and driving surface have all been replaced.   (While we have the bridge under the knife, so to speak, we will resurface the other worn bits, including pavement and expansion joints.)

This long term closure will require a detour that uses 15th Avenue West to reach a point where you can make a U-turn to get back to Nickerson/Emerson from the other side. This will be either down to Dravus (for east bound traffic) or up to NW Leary – on the other side of the Ballard Bridge (for west bound traffic). The project website http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bridgeprojects.htm has maps for the signed detour routes and even a few alternates, as well as bike/ped detour routes.

The project is for the safety of the travelling public now, and for the next 50 years or more. Balanced against a three month closure and one night’s sleep is doesn’t seem too bad…