One year later: Is the Magnolia Bridge still safe?

SEATTLE -- One year after Seattle's Department of Transportation listed the Magnolia Bridge third on its replacement priority list, the City still doesn't have plans to tear it down and build a new bridge.

Built in 1929, the bridge is crumbling in places, which exposes steel reinforcement to corrosion from salt water spray. But replacing the bridge would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million, and SDOT says it don't have anything near that amount in its budget.

"It's very expensive to replace it," said SDOT Roadway Structures Manager John Buswell. "It really requires a more regional and federal effort."

Last January, SDOT released a plan of attack to repair and replace a growing list of aging bridges around the city. SDOT crews recently replaced the Airport Way South Bridge in Seattle's Georgetown Neighborhood. They're also developing plans to replace several other bridges soon, including Post Avenue in downtown Seattle.

The avenue, which is technically a bridge because it's propped up by old wood pilings, will be replaced soon.

Many Magnolia residents have voiced safety concerns about the bridge, saying they refuse to drive on it and instead take a longer route to avoid potential problems.

"I try to avoid it," said a driver named Ben. "No, it doesn't feel too safe at all."

SDOT officials say they'd love nothing more than to replace the bridge. In the meantime, they say they inspect the bridge twice a year and constantly make smaller, patchwork repairs. They also say the bridge is stronger than ever. Buswell adds he would never let anyone drive on it if it was not safe.

"It's my job to make sure the bridge is safe for the traveling public and that bridge will be closed long before it ever becomes unsafe," Buswell says.