Aberdeen City Council to discuss Young Street Bridge

The Aberdeen City Council will host a discussion on Wednesday night about the Young Street Bridge, a structure that’s dear to the hearts of many fans of Aberdeen’s own Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.

The discussion, part of the Aberdeen City Council meeting, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., inside Aberdeen City Hall’s council chambers.

The bridge, graffitied with personal notes to Nirvana and Cobain, who died in 1994, is revered because Cobain wrote songs underneath the bridge and because of so many people who come to Aberdeen in order to see the bridge and its colorful underside. One of Nirvana’s songs “Something in the Way,” refers directly to Young Street Bridge, also known as The North Aberdeen Bridge.

The problem is the bridge’s infrastructure. Young Street Bridge, a 304-foot-long bridge built in 1956, has cracks in it. Its sufficiency rating has worsened through the years. The bridge supports the transit of an average of 2,000 vehicles per day. The route also “provides emergency services access to North Aberdeen,” the agenda states.

The bridge, designed for H-15 loading, is “showing signs of distress under modern loads, even under its load posted status,” according to the agenda.

An H-15 loading is “represented by a two-axle single unit truck weighing 30,000 pounds (15 tons) with 6,000 pounds on its steering axle and 24,000 pounds on its drive axle,” a slideshow for the bridge project states.

The bridge has not only seen better days, but it could be nearing its end as a functional bridge.

As far as the potential replacement goes, Aberdeen Public Works Director Rick Sangder said the city’s “responsibility to the Aberdeen citizens is to provide safe infrastructure in the most cost effective manner.”

The most cost-effective manner could already be in the city’s hands. Months ago, the city of Aberdeen received $25 million in order to solve the problem of a bridge that’s getting worse. The $25 million in federal grants would pay for a complete replacement of the bridge, which would solve the city’s rerouting problems if the bridge remained and eventually failed. The estimated cost to build a new bridge is approximately $23.1 million.

The bridge’s construction will be fully funded as long as construction funding is “obligated prior to 2026,” the agenda states.

The good news for people who want the Young Street Bridge to remain is there could be a possibility of using the money for bridge remediation instead of new construction, the city found out after further review of the federal grant funding.

“The city is currently working on getting those questions answered,” the agenda states.

But, if the bridge ends up being rehabilitated, it could cost the taxpayers since the bridge needs a lot of help.

“I expect the price to go up considerably for a rehabilitation project due to the amount of deficiencies that need to be addressed,” Sangder said.

The agenda also includes five questions for discussion that ask about:

• The bridge’s historical significance

• The city council’s preference to rehabilitate the Young Street Bridge or build a new bridge

• If rehabbing the bridge means a significant increase whether or not the city council would fund the increase

• City council’s involvement in the public engagement process

• What vision the city council has of how they’d like to preserve the bridge and Cobain’s legacy with the bridge

Randy Beerbower, a local historian, said Tuesday he wants a large public presence at the meeting.

“We need everyone that is available to attend tomorrow night’s city council meeting at 6:30 p.m. in a show of support to “SAVE KURT’S BRIDGE,” Beerbower wrote. “Not everyone will need to speak, we just need volumes of people to fill the council chambers.”

Beerbower said a few people will speak before the council meeting starts. And then he issued a call-to-action.

“After the public works director addresses the Young Street Bridge issue, we should all respectfully get up and leave,” Beerbower wrote. “Rides could be made available. Please comment if you plan to attend.”

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at matthew.wells@thedailyworld.com