Marc Weinberg: Give us back our beach - work progresses on Saltwater Park Bridge

Friday, April 3, 2015

Overview of the bridge project
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

Text and Photos by Marc Weinberg

If you are like many in Shoreline who have loved the warmer and often sunny weather (and you're not a skier) during the past 6 weeks, you're frustrated with the loss of access to the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park beach via the pedestrian bridge. I spoke with the city project manager who escorted me into the restricted area and I also spoke with some of the construction crew and the Burlington Northern official on site. After a somewhat staggered start early this year, plans and schedules of both the railroad and the contractor seem to be on a smooth track now. 

Train approaching
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

When the railroad has work projects on or near the tracks they have to maintain a constant vigilance for safety reasons at each site. With rail improvement projects and some landslides between Seattle and Everett, they don’t have enough supervisors / flaggers to cover them all at one time. That’s why you may have seen no work being done some days earlier this year even though the material for the project was in the staging area and the weather was good.

Old deck has been removed
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

As you can imagine, working next to and above active rail tracks is a dangerous place to be and it takes coordination of all parties to make it work smoothly. BNSF has a 'flagger' on site that sets warning flags on the tracks both north and south at one and two mile intervals. He is in communication with both the train crews and the contractor and is responsible for notifying the construction crew to be clear of the tracks when a train is coming. This means that workers and equipment must be well choreographed to ensure everyone’s safety.

Burlington Northern flaggers' truck and
communication center
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

From the description, it looks like the new bridge is going to look great and of course function well too. Most wood is being replaced with steel and the bridge deck is made from precast concrete panels which you can see stored in the lower parking lot. A new fence will be installed and I’m sure the bridge will serve us well for many years.

Precast concrete panels will be the new walking surface
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

So, if you’re like me and ready to head for the beach on these nice days, hang on just a little longer and although the City says it will be done the end of April ... I'm betting on early May.


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