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Magnolia Bridge Replacement Project

From Queen Anne-Magnolia News:

Magnolia Bridge; drop one route alternative, revive another

By Russ Zabel 03/17/2004

Plans for replacing the aging Magnolia Bridge recently took one step forward and one-and-a-half steps backward.

The step forward was the elimination of one of three remaining alternatives, said project manager Kirk Jones at a Magnolia Community Club meeting last week.

Originally there were 25 alternatives, a number that was winnowed down to nine, further pared back to four, then three after Mayor Greg Nickels eliminated a controversial waterfront route along the southern edge of Magnolia.

Dropped lately from the study was Alternative H, which had a northern section and a southern section. The southern leg would have used the Galer Street Flyover, surface roads next to the railroad tracks in Interbay and a new bridge that hooked up with West Galer Street.

The northern leg featured a bridge beginning at West Wheeler Street and connecting to Thorndyke Avenue West. In addition, access ramps for the route would have wiped out part of the Interbay P-Patch.

"So, for a lot of people on Thorn-dyke and P-Patch folks, they don't need to worry about that anymore," Jones said to a round of applause.

However, the real reason Alternative H was dropped was a traffic study showing that traffic would have backed up 1,000 to 1,500 feet near the intersection with 15th Avenue West, he explained. "So we said that's a fatal flaw."

Dropping that route left just two other options: alternatives A and D, Jones said. The first would place a new bridge just to the south of the existing one, and ramps would be added mid-span to connect to ground level. Alternative D is similar, except that the new bridge would be built to the north of the existing one.

But there was a problem. The original scope of the Environmental Impact Statement study called for three alternatives, along with the customary no-build alternative.

The upshot, Jones explained, was that Seattle Department of Transportation director Grace Crunican directed her staff to further study the next most likely alternative so that there would still be three in the final EIS. "So we're going through that process right now."

The next route down the list is Alternative C, he said. That one would feature a bridge from 15th that would cross the railroad tracks, drop down to ground level, travel north, then west on a bridge or fill along the eastern slope of Magnolia and back to Galer Street.

Putting Alternative C back into the mix will require further study, Jones said, although he wasn't sure about the extra cost or time needed for the work.

Jones said there would be more community meetings in May and June about the results of the new study including Alternate C. "Then, hopefully in the fall, we'll have a draft Environmental Impact Statement out."

Staff reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at 461-1309 or rzabel@nwlink.com.

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