The Heron Street Bridge in Aberdeen “has reached the end of its useful life,” according to the state Department of Transportation, and there are four proposed replacement projects under consideration, ranging in price from $66 million to $120 million.
The bridge was built in 1949 and supports about 14,000 vehicle trips over the Wishkah River daily, according to the Department of Transportation.
The department has been working since last spring to gather information, develop preliminary designs and talk to stakeholders to develop options to replace the bridge. The department plans to work through the spring to inform the community about the options and receive public comment about the proposed plans and their potential impacts on traffic in East Aberdeen.
Some of the proposed projects include road closures and realignments and may impact several businesses in the area. No time frame has been given for construction, which would last from 18 months to up to 3 and a half years, depending on the option selected.
The department intends to have its final recommendation by the fall of 2019.
There will be a “drop-in open house” March 20 at the Rotary Log Pavilion in Aberdeen. There will be no formal presentation, but region planners will be on hand to explain the bridge alternatives, answer questions and take feedback on the proposed alternatives.
“This is our first big call for public comment,” said Dennis Engel, State Department of Transportation Multimodal Planning Manager for the project.
Engel added in a Department of Transportation statement, “We need to hear from members of the community before any design work begins. This first step of the process will help us meet the needs of the community as we move forward in replacing this important link.”
The open house is scheduled for 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the Log Pavilion, located at 1401 Sargent Blvd.
Public comment can be supplied by taking an online survey on project options at surveymonkey.com/r/QSYRS9W through 11:59 p.m. Friday, April 12.
With the possibility of increased train traffic with Port of Grays Harbor expansion proposals, the already congested traffic in East Aberdeen between the bridge and Junction City has been the topic of conversation among city and county planners, and the Grays Harbor Council of Governments for many years. Dubbed by the Council of Governments as the East Aberdeen Mobility Project, the installation of roundabouts and even an overpass to move traffic to a different level than the train traffic have been suggested.
The bridge alternatives drawings show these potential improvements, but the replacement of the bridge does not hinge on whether those potential improvements gain traction, and funding.
“We are working with the city and all the stakeholders so we don’t do something that would impact the other project,” said Engel. “We have funding for ours so we are moving forward, and if they get funding at the right time we would obviously work with them.”
F Street Bridge: Build a new 2-lane, 1-way bridge north of the existing bridge, connecting Heron Street to Wishkah Street.
Cost: $70 million.
The Heron Street Bridge would remain open during construction of the new bridge. The existing bridge would be demolished after new bridge construction is completed.
Estimate construction schedule: 18 months to 2 1/2 years.
Major changes: A new road would be built through the south end of Zelasko Park with a new public shoreline space created on the east bank of the river. South Hornsby Way would be removed. East Heron Street would be realigned from G Street to the new bridge. A new road would be created from the intersection of East Wishkah Street and Kansas Street to the new bridge. East Wishkah would be changed to 2-way traffic from South Newell Street to South Kansas Street. Three existing businesses would potentially be affected.
Heron Street Bridge: Build a new 2-lane, 1-way bridge in the same location as existing bridge.
Cost: $66 million-$76 million.
A temporary bridge would be built north of the existing bridge to carry traffic during construction; it would be removed after the new bridge is completed.
Estimated construction schedule: 3 1/2 years.
Major changes: A temporary road through the south end of Zelasko Park during construction. No businesses would be affected, and no new roads, road realignments or other traffic revisions are part of this option.
One 2-way bridge: A 4-lane, 2-way bridge to replace the Heron Street and Wishkah Street bridges.
Cost: $117 million.
Both bridges would remain open during construction and removed upon completion of the new bridge.
Estimated construction schedule: 2 1/2 years.
Major changes: New bridge and roads would split Zelasko Park in half, with a new public shoreline space created on the east bank of the river. South Hornsby Way would be removed, and East Heron and East Wishkah streets would be realigned from G Street to the new bridge. A new road would be created from the intersection of East Wishkah Street and Kansas Street to the new bridge. East Wishkah would be changed to two-way traffic from South Newell Street to Kansas Street. Seven existing businesses would potentially be impacted.
Two 1-way bridges: Build two new 2-lane, 1-way bridges to replace both existing bridges.
Cost: $120 million.
Both the Heron Street and Wishkah Street bridges would remain open during construction and both existing bridges removed at the completion of construction.
Estimated construction schedule: 18 months to 2 1/2 years.
Major changes: New roads through the south and north ends of Zelasko Park with a new public shoreline space created on the east bank of the river. South Hornsby Way would be removed. East Heron and East Wishkah would be realigned from G Street to the new bridge. A new road would be created from the intersection of East Wishkah and South Kansas streets to the new bridge. East Wishkah would be changed to 2-way traffic from South Newell Street to Kansas Street. Three existing businesses would potentially be impacted.
“We have funding for the replacement of the bridge, somewhere up to a little more than $70 million earmarked,” said Engel. “Ideally, we wouldn’t use it all, but some of these options cost more than what we currently have.”
Tina Werner, Department of Transportation Olympic Regions spokeswoman, said “there is roughly $78.6 million budgeted for this bridge replacement project. Those funds are a combination of state and federal dollars including Connecting Washington.”
Connecting Washington is a funding initiative primarily supported by an 11.9-cent gas tax increase that was fully phased-in on July 1, 2016. The funding package is $16 billion set aside for statewide transportation improvements.