To paraphrase Forrest Gump, a bridge is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Think of the asphalt driving surface as the chocolate coating and the concrete deck below as the nougat, caramel or cream filling. Until we bite into the asphalt, we can’t be sure we’ll be happy with what’s underneath.
We’ll take another bite out of the State Route 99 Aurora bridge this weekend when we reduce traffic to one lane in each direction beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23. If the bridge deck is in good condition and only needs small repairs, when our contractor crews open the lanes at 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 26, the bridge paving could be finished. If they find large sections of concrete that need repairs, the work could require additional weekend closures.
|Contractor crews expect to do some concrete repairs on the SR 99 Aurora bridge.|
If major repairs are needed, it could extend work.
The condition of the bridge deck is just one variable. The other, of course, is weather. If you’ve followed this project or others like it, you know we must have dry weather to install waterproofing on the bridge before we repave with asphalt. So if we end up with rain in the weekend forecast, we will have to postpone the work.
What’s been completed?
The good news is that we have already finished three weekends of work on the bridge. The southbound lanes of SR 99 have new asphalt all the way across the bridge. About half the length of the northbound lanes has been repaved. If the last length of the northbound lanes is like the other sections, and the weather forecast holds, there is a good chance our contractor will complete the paving. It’ll still be a few weeks before the asphalt cures and permanent lane striping is added, but the heavy lift of paving will be done.
Three weekends of lane reductions for bridge paving give us a pretty good idea of what to expect. People who usually drive in the area are finding alternate routes through Fremont, Wallingford, Queen Anne and Ballard. As a result, we’ve had some backups on SR 99 and surrounding roads, but it’s been manageable. You can continue to help by:
- Using alternate routes like I-5 or other bridges.
- Try a bicycle if it’s a short trip, particularly in the Fremont/Wallingford area.
- If you don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time, consider postponing your trip.
- Check traffic before you go on our mobile app or Twitter feed.
Preserving the highway
This paving work is part of a much larger effort to preserve the Aurora bridge and the SR 99 highway. During the past year, contractor crews painted the steel structure under the bridge deck; they’re now finishing up that work by taking down the scaffolding.
|The bridge is just one area of SR 99 that is getting new pavement between Roy and North 145th streets.|
On both sides of the bridge, all lanes of SR 99 between Roy Street near the Seattle Center and North 145th Street – the north Seattle city limit – will have a smooth new layer of asphalt thanks to another paving project.
I can’t offer you a box of chocolates if we complete the paving this weekend. But for those of you who use the SR 99 Aurora bridge, finishing the bridge paving early will be a nice treat all by itself.