Pre-design work on a replacement for the Heron Street Bridge in Aberdeen won’t begin until 2024, five years later than expected, according to information delivered at an open house by the state Department of Transportation Wednesday.
Project planners were at the Rotary Log Pavilion to discuss the preferred option — a 2-lane, 1-way bridge built in the footprint of the existing 70-year-old bridge — with about 50 community members who attended the open house.
In May, Department of Transportation spokeswoman Christina Werner said the department was “optimistic” that pre-design work on the replacement bridge would start this summer. However, planning manager Dennis Engel said Wednesday that projects were adjusted after this past funding cycle and it was determined the Heron Street Bridge replacement would see pre-design work in 2024.
“This is due to pressing statewide bridge preservation needs that all compete for the same resources,” explained Werner. “Additionally, the Legislature determines our funding streams on major construction or preservation projects.”
It’s not unusual for projects to get shuffled around as budgets are finalized and projects are re-prioritized, said Werner.
“Much of our work here is fluid and changes regularly,” she said. “Several factors can affect a project’s timeline. This includes working to determine and hear the community’s needs, environmental permitting, proposed funding streams and other concerns.”
This summer and into the fall, the U.S. Coast Guard will conduct its review of the project to determine how high the bridge needs to be for boats to safely travel under, and whether the bridge will need to be fixed or an opening bridge.
A breakdown of the results of a survey about bridge replacement options was provided at the open house. The 1,000 or so who answered the survey liked the preferred option because of its lesser impacts on businesses and its cost, currently estimated at around $66 million to $70 million, compared to the other options.
Where the preferred option didn’t get as much support was in terms of construction time. Of the four initial options presented earlier this year by the Department of Transportation, the preferred option had an estimated construction time of 3 1/2 years while the others were around 2 1/2.
“It will take longer because it will require the installation of a temporary bridge” to allow the flow of traffic to continue over the Wishkah River during construction, said multimodal planning manager Theresa Turpin. Options that did not have the new bridge following the same path as the existing bridge didn’t require the extra step.