Ballard Bridge Seismic Retrofit
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The Ballard Bridge carries 4 lanes of vehicular traffic, plus two sidewalks, over the Lake Washington Ship Canal between Interbay to the south and Ballard to the north. It is composed of three portions: a 295 foot long central portion and the north and south bridge approaches of 758 and 1801 feet respectively. The central portion (called a bascule) opens to allow ships taller than 44’ to pass between Puget Sound and Lake Washington on the Ship Canal.
Retrofit Project Overview
The Ballard Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project is part of Seattle’s city-wide program to upgrade its bridges. This project will prevent the Ballard Bridge approaches from catastrophic failure in a higher design level earthquake (with an expected 1,000-year return period) and will allow the bridge to remain fully operational following a lower design level earthquake (with a 100-year return period).
Most of the work will be done beneath the bridge and will not be visible from on top.
Construction began in July of 2012 and may take up to 22 months to complete. In general, work may be classified as “on land”, “over water” and “in water”. The contractor hopes to complete all the “in-water” work (pier reinforcement and subsurface column jacketing”) by May 2013. On land work (new steel diaphragms, concrete restrainers, longitudinal blocking, deck joint retrofits and seat extensions) will take place under both the north and south approaches simultaneously through most of the project. The over the water work activities are much the same as those on land, but will be done primarily after the in water work is finished, from scaffolding erected on the contractor’s custom built barge.
In 1917 construction of the Ballard Bridge (designed by A.H. Dimock) was completed, with wooden bridge approach structures.In 1939 the wooden bridge approaches were completely replaced with concrete and steel. A fascinating film made during that re-construction may be seen here.
In 1958 the north ramp was widened to provide access to and from Leary Way NW
In 1982, the bridge was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
In 1994 SDOT added seismic restrainers and replaced the steel deck grating on the bridge as part of a city-wide program.
In 2002 SDOT carried out an electro-mechanical rehabilitation to update the operating portion of the bridge.
In 2006 SDOT evaluated Seattle’s bridges, assessing their vulnerability to seismic events and the importance of these routes to Seattle area traffic. That evaluation resulted in a decision to seismically retrofit the approaches to the Ballard Bridge, as well as several other structures.
In 2009 the engineering firm of Berger ABAM began design work on the Ballard Bridge seismic retrofit and in 2012 the permitting for the project was concluded.
Project Construction Impacts
A key design criterion for Ballard Bridge seismic retrofit project was to minimize impacts on traffic across the bridge; as a result most of the work will be done from down below.
In addition, one sidewalk or the other could be closed between 7:00PM and 6:00AM (but never both sides at the same time).
The project retrofit work is also allowed 3 full weekend long closures of the bridge to all vehicular traffic. (This is same number of full closures used during the replacement of the approaches on the Fremont Bridge in 2007). If needed these closures (on non-consecutive weekends) will be between 10PM on Friday and 6AM on Monday morning and will be announced at least 2 weeks in advance. At this point in time no full closures of the bridge are anticipated.
Finally, the Ship Canal Trail (which passes underneath the southern approach to the bridge) will be closed for up to 30 consecutive days at some point.
Advance notice of vehicular lane or sidewalk closures will be provided through email notices, website updates, electronic display boards, and traffic alerts. Joining the e-mail list by CLICKING HERE is the best way to stay informed of upcoming closures and detour routes.
The project will create both noise and vibration, particularly so during the removal of certain structural elements. Normal work hours on this project are 6AM to 4PM Monday through Thursday, though work will also take place on Fridays, at night or on weekends at times.
If work occurs after 10PM, the contractor will utilize construction methods to reduce noise impacts (such as using rubber bed liners in trucks and the less intrusive backup warning devices).
Traffic Signage and WebCams
Four electronic signboards will be used to keep commuters informed of upcoming lane closures periods on the bridge. The messages on these boards will typically include the dates and times of closures using the abbreviations NB and SB for northbound and southbound respectively.
The SDOT Traveller’s Information Map provides up-to-date traffic information, with traffic alerts, links to live traffic video feeds and other information that may help in avoiding delays. Cameras are located on 15th Ave at NW 85th, NW 65th, Market Street, Leary Way NW, W Emerson, and W Dravus, as well as on Elliott and the Fremont and Aurora Bridges. (The location of the camera is given at the top of the video feed, and the direction the camera is facing is shown on the second line.)
Video feeds from the cameras closest to the Ballard Bridge are located below. (Reload the page to refresh the images.)
Reload the page to refresh the images.
SDOT has conducted environmental reviews of the Ballard Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project to consider impacts associated with social/economic issues, biological resources, bicycles/pedestrians, historic/cultural resources, visual quality, land use, wetlands, and noise and vibration.
If you have any questions regarding the environmental permitting or associated protection measures on this project please contact: Mark Mazzola, SDOT Environmental Coordinator, at 206-733-9117 or email@example.com.
SDOT’s staff is working to minimize impacts of the Ballard Bridge Seismic Retrofit project by coordinating activities with other projects in the area:
Project Budget & Funding
The total estimated project cost is $15.5M, which includes engineering, geotechnical work, structural design, permitting, and right of way management in addition to the construction.
The project is funded by Bridging the Gap, a nine-year levy for transportation maintenance and improvements. The $365 million levy was passed by Seattle voters in November 2006. The goal of the program is to create a strong foundation for Seattle’s transportation future by reducing the infrastructure backlog and investing in major transportation projects.
10/1/2012 – The contractor began in-water work.
9/11/2012 – The contractor began erecting scaffolding at the north abutment.
7/30/2012 – The contractor began mobilizing on site.
6/1/2012 – The contract with Quigg Brothers was executed.
5/8/2012 – The low bidder, Quigg Brothers Inc. of Aberdeen, WA, was recommended to receive the contract.
4/18/2012 – The Ballard Bridge Seismic Retrofit bids were opened, with the lowest of 9 bids accepted totaling $7,092,370 – almost 5% under the Engineer’s estimate.
More information about the retrofit project will be added to the website as the project moves forward.
If you have questions about the project, please contact: Art Brochet, SDOT Project Communications, 206.615.0786, firstname.lastname@example.org