City to tear down Broadway Bridge next spring
EVERETT - The Broadway Bridge is long overdue for replacement.
The city plans to tear down the 100-year-old bridge over the railroad tracks next spring.
Traffic will be diverted off the bridge, and drivers can expect the crossing to be closed for one to two years during construction. The city is gathering public input on whether or not traffic should be allowed on the bridge during construction, which will impact how long the bridge will be closed.
For city engineer Ryan Sass, starting construction next spring can’t come quickly enough, he said.
The work’s taken time to start because Everett has to negotiate with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which has a long-standing agreement with the city to help keep up the bridge. Talks are ongoing but going smoothly, Sass said.
The project is pegged to cost $9 million, with federal dollars covering most of the cost.
The city is getting $7.3 million in federal bridge replacement dollars. Everett is working with Burlington Northern to split the remaining $1.7 million.
The new bridge will be a foot taller, but the bridge’s hump will be less steep.
The city can’t go out to bid the project until Burlington Northern agrees to a plan.
The railroad has been receptive to chipping in money, Sass said. Burlington Northern spokesman Gus Melonas concurred.
“We’re working with the city on the design and are contributing financially,” Melonas said. Melonas declined to comment further, directing the Tribune to the city.
City engineers need to decide whether to close the bridge completely or build it in halves to let traffic use it during construction.
The dilemma: close the bridge completely and the work gets done in a year but no traffic can get through or close the bridge in halves to let traffic through and the work gets done in two years.
The one-year timeline “saves a year and saves about a million bucks,” Sass said.
More than 30,000 vehicles use the bridge daily, but engineers found almost one-third of those vehicles are passing through Everett to get to Marysville via Broadway.
At an open house last week to get people’s opinions, almost everyone agreed a one-year closure is better. More than 20 people attended the open house at Everett Station’s Weyerhaeuser Room.
To Adrian Anderson and Jerry Weed, co-owners of Siskun Power Equipment at Broadway and California, it would be great if it got done even quicker. They plan to keep Siskun open during construction but are bracing their small business for the closure’s impact.
“I’m guessing one year or two years, we’ll lose 50 percent to 75 percent of our business,” Weed said.
The taller bridge also will obscure their signage, they said.
Drivers could be moved onto either Cedar Street or California Street, depending on which direction they’re going. The majority of the people at the open house said they would rather have this split detour than sending everyone onto California Street, associate traffic engineer Euneka Robinson said.
City engineers are gravitating toward a one-year closure because most of the traffic is using Broadway to get through Everett.
A decision should come this week, Sass said.
The bridge will be slightly taller but less steep, which especially changes the experience for drivers heading toward Hewitt Avenue. Right now, the apex of the bridge is in the middle of the bridge, creating a zero visibility approach to Hewitt.
In essence, engineers are moving the hump toward California Street to flatten it out, Sass said.
There’s no room to make the bridge span longer, Sass said. If the city made it longer than the 100-by-100-foot area it has to work with, that would cut off access at California Street.
The city is working with nearby businesses to make sure the bridge doesn’t impact them. Everett is working closest with Volunteers of America, which has a street-level entryway exiting to Broadway that would be in the way of the taller bridge. The city might need to compensate the VOA if it has to modify their entryway, Sass said.
The city can build the new bridge without having to buy property to fit its new footprint, Sass said.
The bridge will be a foot taller — 22.4 feet high — to accommodate the railroad, but not as tall as Burlington Northern wants.
“Unfortunately, it’s geometrically constrained to build it like the railroad would like,” Sass said.
The city is thinking about beautifying the bridge, but there is not a lot of room to build in aesthetic amenities, Sass said. The new bridge could have designs in the walls or in the fencing, but that’s about it.
The designs include an archway with blue lights on posts rising above it and a pointy fence design named the “airfoil” that generated mixed opinions. Most people, such as Major Brown of the Snohomish County Public Utility District, prefer the archway for its simplicity.
The airfoil design clashes with the town and would stand out a bit too much, Brown said.
The airfoil is “goofy looking” and would compete visually with Comcast Arena, resident Bob Strickland said. The archway is “harmonic,” Strickland said.
Councilwoman Gigi Burke preferred the airfoil. It looks edgy, Burke said.
“Lots of people who go over it probably don’t realize they’re going over a bridge,” Sass said.
Everett Transit already adjusted its routes to avoid the Broadway Bridge next year. The route changes are part of the agency’s 2012 service reductions that start in August.
The Broadway Bridge was built in 1912 and was modified in 1931 to add wider sidewalks and change the bridge deck.
The city is expected to advertise for bids this fall.
If you want to get on a mailing list for updates on the Broadway Bridge, send an e-mail to email@example.com.