How should the new Washington Way Bridge should look when the 80-year-old wooden span across Longview’s Lake Sacajawea is replaced next year?
There are plenty of decisions to make regarding the bridge’s surfaces, structure, lighting, width and construction staging, all of which will affect the project’s estimated $5.3 million price tag. The plan is to complete the design by next May and begin construction in July 2014. The existing 160-foot-long, 67-foot-wide span handles an average of 12,700 vehicles a day.
According to city officials, the bridge is still safe but has needed an increasing amount of costly maintenance as its timbers rot.
At a public open house at the Cowlitz PUD auditorium Thursday evening, city of Longview staff and members of OBEC Consulting Engineers presented various alternatives on display boards. The visitors, who numbered more than 60, were asked to share their opinions on comment cards.
Here are the options up for consideration:
• Should the bridge be made of cast-in-place concrete, precast concrete or steel?
• Should it have two or three piers supporting it?
• Should the railings be concrete, a metal rail on concrete or just metal?
• Should the bridge be flat underneath or have curves between the piers?
• Should the abutments beneath the bridge (where the footpaths are) remain sloped for better visibility around the corners or have a vertical wall, which would reduce the bridge length and allow for a wider footpath?
• How closely should light poles be spaced on the bridge deck, and how should the footpaths beneath the bridge be lit?
• Should the bridge have bike lanes, even though there aren’t bike lanes today on Washington Way? Or should the sidewalks be widened so bikes and pedestrians can share it?
• Should the bridge be closed during construction, which would then take nine to 13 months? Or should two lanes remain open, which would increase construction time to 15 to 21 months and boost the cost by $450,000 to $680,000?
Those who couldn’t attend the open house can go to the city’s website to learn about the bridge’s history, review the bridge design options and fill out an online survey. Go to www.mylongview.com and click on “Washington Way Bridge Replacement.”
A second open house will be held in August to present the preferred bridge alternative. The design will be developed by taking into account public opinion, traffic volume projections, the needs of pedestrians and cyclists, structural design limitations, aesthetics and permit requirements.
So far, the city has spent $80,000 repairing the bridge, which was built in 1935 to replace the original 1925 span. The second bridge was widened twice, in 1957 and 1964.
State bridge inspectors have given the old bridge a sufficiency rating of 21 out of 100, taking into account structure and function. Based on the last inspection, the estimated cost for repairs this year is $275,000, but investing more money in repairs isn’t a good value because the bridge is beyond its serviceable life, according to the city.
The city will pay for the new bridge with a $4.25 million Federal Highway Bridge Program grant, which Longview must match with $1.06 million. If the city wants to dress it up with any architectural enhancements, it will have to find the money for them.
OBEC Consulting Engineers, based in Portland, will develop three bridge designs that complement the historic character, function and aesthetics of Lake Sacajawea Park and remain within the project’s budget. Because the bridge is within Lake Sacajawea Park, which is listed on the national and local Historic Register, a joint workshop about the project will be held with the City Council, Historic Preservation Commission and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.