King County Council Approves Funding To Construct New South Park Bridge


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The King County Council announced Monday (March 7) that it had approved legislation detailing the county’s contribution to replace the South Park Bridge with a brand new one, with a projected starting date “sometime in May.”

The bridge was officially closed on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 (see our sister site’s Photo Story here), after structural damage and issues with electrical and mechanical systems led officials to deem it unrepairable. State and local politicians continued to beat the bushes looking for funding, but when the bridge closed, they remained some $50 million shy of the projected cost of a replacement.

The 79-year-old bridge, which crossed the Duwamish River and connected the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods in south Seattle, was a vital link to transportation needs in South Park, with more than 20,000 vehicles using it daily.

According to a press release:

The residents and businesses dependent on the disabled South Park Bridge are a step closer to a replacement with today’s unanimous adoption by the Metropolitan King County Council of agreements to fund construction of a new structure.

“Our region failed when the South Park Bridge closed last June. Today’s votes take a significant step towards righting that wrong for South Park residents and our region’s businesses,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, whose district includes the South Park Bridge. “Replacing the bridge will create jobs in the present and support a regional economic hub into the future.”

“The Council wants to assure tax payers that we can afford this project,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, Chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “Now that the Port and the city of Seattle have firmed up their commitments to help pay for the project, we have the money we need to go forward with the construction of the new bridge.”

“South Park Bridge construction will mean new jobs and restoration of a transportation corridor that is critical to the regional economy,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee Chair. “I’m pleased King County was able to partner with Seattle, the Port of Seattle, and the State and Federal governments to secure funding to rebuild the South Park Bridge.”

Last June, because of the deteriorating condition of the span, the 79-year-old bridge, which crossed the Duwamish Waterway and connected the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods in south Seattle, was closed. Rebuilding the span is a priority for the region: more than 20,000 vehicles used the bridge every day and it was an important freight corridor that linked the manufacturing and industrial centers of Seattle with the rest of the region.

“We have seen the impact the loss of the bridge has had on the people who live and work in the South Park neighborhood,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “Having the financing for a new bridge in place means the County is closer to restoring the economic vitality and quality of life to this community.”

“I want to thank all of our regional partners for working to together to secure funding for this important project,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “The South Park Bridge is a vital economic lifeline for the citizens of south Seattle and I look forward to finally breaking ground.”

Before the bridge closed, the Council adopted legislation that provided the County Executive with funding authority needed to assist in the construction of a new bridge. The Council today adopted three separate ordinances that:

  • Approve interlocal agreements with the city of Seattle and the Port of Seattle that details their contributions toward the project.
  • Removes an expenditure restriction on a portion of the project construction funds that had been imposed pending the negotiation of these interlocal agreements.

The cost of the construction phase of the bridge replacement project is estimated at $138 million. Federal grants, including $34 million in TIGER II grant funds, are guaranteed for the construction of the bridge. King County, the city of Seattle, Port of Seattle, the Puget Sound Regional Council and state funds will cover the remaining cost of construction.

“It took extraordinary cooperation by governments at all levels to build the partnership bridges that will fund construction of the new South Park Bridge,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Vice Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “This effort serves as an important reminder that we must conduct regular monitoring and maintenance of all the county’s aging bridges to avoid any additional interruption in our transportation infrastructure that could hamper economic recovery.”

“Today’s legislation cements the funding needed to start construction on the new South Park Bridge, which is critical for businesses and residents,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “Working with local governments to secure funding for a new bridge was one of the Council’s key priorities last year.”

With all of the funding now in place, construction of the new South Park Bridge is slated to begin in May.

“With today’s Council vote, another important milestone has been met, so that we can open bids tomorrow and award the contract later this month,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I thank the Council for keeping this project moving forward. The bridge will allow us to reconnect our historic industrial heartland and the vital, affordable family neighborhoods of the Duwamish valley, and support thousands of good jobs for decades to come.”

“I commend the City, Port, State, Federal and County governments for working together to arrive at today. In particular, I commend the South Park community for their tenacity,” said McDermott.

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