Replacement of Astoria’s waterfront bridges could be put off until next year after bids came back well over what the city and the state Department of Transportation budgeted for the project.
The city will now need to complete numerous temporary repairs to keep the structures open for another year, Public Works Director Jeff Harrington said. The city had hoped to avoid these costs by prioritizing some immediate repairs and closing some of the bridges.
The Department of Transportation received four bids on the bridge replacement project at nearly $2.2 million more than what has been budgeted, Harrington said. The lowest bid, from Legacy Contracting Inc., came in at $10 million. The highest bid, from Stellar J Corp., was $10.9 million. Astoria received around 90 percent of the project funding from the state, but is providing the remaining 10 percent.
The six waterfront bridges are at the base of downtown and provide access to the piers. The city planned to replace the Seventh, Ninth and 11th street bridges this October and then switch over to the Sixth, Eighth and 10th street bridges next year in an attempt to minimize the impact on businesses, residents and visitors.
The city and the Department of Transportation are “working together to determine an appropriate path forward,” Cindy Moore, assistant city engineer, wrote in a letter to stakeholders last week. “It is very likely that start of construction will be delayed a year until October 2019.”
It’s a disappointing setback, Harrington said. “We wanted to get it done and moving this year,” he said.
Nearby business owners were anxious about what the bridge replacement work might mean for them, and operators of the popular Astoria Riverfront Trolley anticipated the work would delay trolley operations next spring.
Maintenance work will now occur in August and September “with minimal public disruption,” Moore wrote.
Three-ton load limits will remain in place on the bridges, the lowest the city can go before it would have to close the bridges to all vehicle traffic.
The city has changed and emphasized signs on roads leading across the bridges and increased enforcement on streets like 11th Street after inspectors for the Department of Transportation witnessed numerous violations of the load limit during recent inspections. The state told Moore that if the city can’t enforce the load limit, the bridges would have to close to all but pedestrian traffic.
The state also provided a list of around $131,000 of recommended repairs. Moore had hoped to be able to keep repair costs down to around $25,000, but that was when she expected half of the bridges would be completely replaced this year.