News Blog for Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood


Earthquake retrofitting of Aurora Bridge starts soon

May 24th, 2011 by master

Starting the middle of next month, the Washington State Department of Transportation will begin the latest and possibly the last round of seismic upgrades to the Aurora Bridge.

Photo from the WSDOT

During the project, workers will be removing old chipped concrete and adding steel to the bridge to make it more structurally sound to withstand earthquakes.

Most of the activity will be during the day underneath the bridge on Troll Avenue between 36th Street and Lake Union. Workers will close one block at a time and fence off some parking so pedestrians and cars don’t get hit by construction debris. Other than the localized traffic and parking issues there shouldn’t be any significant impacts.

This $5.7 million project is funded by the 2005 gas tax.

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Update on Aurora Bridge "suicide fence"

November 29th, 2010 by master

If you’ve driven over the Aurora Bridge lately, you’ve noticed the posts for the long-planned suicide fence rising from the west side of bridge. The Seattle Department of Transportation sent out some information recently on the status of the project:

Yes, those are fence posts sprouting up on the west side of the bridge. Crews begin installing the posts on the night Monday, Nov. 8, and are getting 20 to 30 done each night. So far they’ve installed about a third of the 684 posts that will make up the fence. If you’ve been looking closely as the fence posts go up, you might have a few questions. And we have the answers:

Q. Why is the first fence post at N. 34th Street in Fremont? Is that where the fence begins?

A. No, the fence will begin just north of N. 36th Street right above the Fremont Troll.

Q. But the posts don’t begin until N. 36th Street. Are you sure the fence goes all the way to the Troll?

A. Yes, the posts all look the same, but they differ in how they connect to the bridge. Six different ways, in fact, and there are five different types of posts. These post-to-bridge connections depend in part on whether the post is attached to the steel middle section or the concrete sections at the north and south ends. It turns out that the fence manufacturer completed the posts that connect to the steel sections first and so the contractor is installing them first. The posts in the concrete sections on the west side of the bridge will go up in the next week or two.

Q. Why are there gaps between some of the posts?

A. The gaps indicate locations where we must complete repairs before installing posts. As you may remember, crews discovered corrosion in 23 beams about three months ago. We determined the beams would need to be strengthened before we attached the fence posts at those locations and added this work to the construction contract. We completed part of the repair and are waiting for a manufacturer to build and deliver the steel braces that will reinforce the beams.

Q. When will the fence be done?

A. We had hoped to have the fence done by the end of the year, but the added repair work has taken longer than we anticipated. It also appears that panel installation may take more time as well. These two factors will delay completion by about a month, into early 2011.

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Suicide prevention fence goes up this week

November 8th, 2010 by master

Work to build a suicide prevention fence across the Aurora Bridge has been underway for months, but there’s still no sign of the fence itself.  WSDOT tells us that will all change this week when crews start putting up the fence posts on the west side of the bridge. 

So what’s taking so long?  WSDOT says it has been dealing with small details they hope will make a big difference in the end.  They drilled about 2600 holes for anchor bolts, used an x-ray device to make sure they didn’t hit rebar, and repaired the bridge’s steel that was damaged by corrosion. 

The fence posts will go up first, followed by the fence panels.  The fence should be finished by the end of the year.

Image from WSDOT

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'Rivet Buster' taking the weekend off

September 1st, 2010 by master

After three consecutive Sundays of rivet busting and lane closures on the Aurora Bridge, crews will take this Sunday off to keep traffic moving smoothly over the Labor Day weekend. Rivet removal, along with the “rivet buster” equipment, will pick up again on September 12.

Crews continue to work Monday through Thursday nights drilling holes for the suicide prevention fence across the bridge.

Photos from WSDOT

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'Rivet Buster' work resumes on Aurora Bridge

August 15th, 2010 by master

After responding to complaints from neighbors about the late-night noise, Aurora Bridge construction crews have begun a new work schedule.

The first of four Sunday shifts, WSDOT crews resumed using the loud tool called the “Rivet Buster” today to build the suicide fence along the bridge. But unlike last time, workers will avoid the overnight hours.

Until midnight tonight (Sunday), two of three southbound lanes on the bridge and the southbound Fremont Way N. on-ramp are closed to traffic.

“WSDOT engineers looked at weekday and weekend traffic volumes and determined that four 16-hour Sunday closures would allow crews to get the work done with the lowest overall noise and traffic effects,” explains WSDOT in a press release. “Four straight Sunday closures are critical to completing the fence project by the end of the year.”

Drivers can expect additional Sunday closures on Aug. 22 (northbound), Aug. 29 (half day each northbound and southbound), and Sept. 5 (northbound).

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Aurora suicide fence work starts tonight

May 24th, 2010 by master

After a delay of more than a month, work finally begins tonight on the new suicide prevention fence across the Aurora Bridge. An equipment problem has been causing the holdup.  This week,  crews will close two northbound lanes and the northbound sidewalk across the bridge from 9 pm to 5 am on Monday and Thursday nights only (5/24 and 5/27).   Earplugs are being offered to nearby residents in Wallingford, Fremont, and Queen Anne who may be impacted by the noise.  You can call 206-440-4099.

The schedule should switch over to Sunday through Thursday nights for the remainder of the project, which could last until the end of this year.  You can track the project on the WSDOT webpage.

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Suicide fence work delayed until mid-May

May 3rd, 2010 by master

Construction delays on the new suicide prevention fence across the Aurora Bridge continue to grow. It now appears that work won’t begin until mid-May.  The project, which was supposed to start April 19, has been delayed by construction equipment problems.  You can track the project here.

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Update on Aurora Bridge suicide fence work

April 26th, 2010 by master

We’ve gotten word that construction of the suicide prevention fence across the Aurora Bridge won’t happen tonight or tomorrow night. An equipment problem has caused a delay in the project. WSDOT tells us there’s a chance work could start later this week.

WSDOT conducted a test last week to gauge the noise level of the drilling equipment (pictured above). Greg Phipps from WSDOT tells us those tests provided some good news – things may not be quite as noisy as first thought.

My first impression was that the drills (there is one for concrete and one for steel) were much smaller than I expected. My second impression is that the drilling was much quieter than I expected. The drilling will be noisy, but not extremely noisy as the stories on this blog have suggested. At about 60-75 feet away the drilling was not audible. The true test, of course, will be at night when there is less traffic noise, and when the work is over water where the sound carries more. The grain of salt is that this was my impression and not a scientific judgment, and I expect there will be some skepticism as this is coming from a WSDOT communications guy, so I encourage you to see and hear for yourself when construction starts.

Of course, nearby residents in Wallingford, Queen Anne, and Fremont will be the ultimate judges. The 24-hour noise hotline is 206-390-5697. Track the project here.

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Noisy Aurora Bridge work postponed

April 21st, 2010 by master

Residents who live near the Aurora Bridge will have a few nights of relief from the month of expected nighttime noise surrounding the construction of a nine-foot safety fence over the bridge. WSDOT announced today that construction on the fence, which was scheduled to begin on Monday night, April 19, will be postponed due to an equipment problem. A new estimated start date for the work has not yet been announced.


When construction on the safety fence does begin, crews will work Sunday through Thursday nights and will work on one side of the bridge at a time. Construction will close two lanes and the adjacent sidewalk across the bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly. WSDOT expects to finish installing the fence by the end of the year.

When construction does start up again, WSDOT says it will be extremely noisy. If you still haven’t received your free industrial strength earplugs, call 206-267-6019. Follow the fence project progress here.

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Earplug alert! Aurora Bridge work begins 4/19

April 9th, 2010 by master

Residents who live near the Aurora Bridge may be in for some sleepless nights as work gets underway to build a fence across the landmark structure.  The work starts Monday, April 19, and will last for one month.

Two lanes of traffic across the bridge will be closed Sunday through Thursday during construction from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.   WSDOT tells us the work will be incredibly noisy.  In fact, they’re even offering free industrial-strength earplugs to residents who call 206-267-6019.

The Aurora Bridge has been the scene of more than 230 suicides since it was built in 1932, and officials hope this new fence will discourage would-be jumpers.  To track this project, you can log on to WSDOT’s special page.

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