Fauntleroy Expressway redo will cost nearly $2 million

SEATTLE -- A nearly $2 million mistake will trigger a construction do-over for the bridge deck leading to West Seattle.

Hundreds of pads used to protect the Fauntleroy Expressway's bridge deck during an earthquake are wrong and have to go.

Seattle's Department of Transportation says the $1.9 million mistake is on the Fauntleroy Expressway, which is the bridge deck that begins at the Delridge Exit and runs right up to Fauntleroy Way -- the gateway to West Seattle.

"That's a lot of money, a lot of money," said daily West Seattle Bridge and Fauntleroy Expressway user Josue Ahro upon learning of the hefty mistake.

On Tuesday SDOT told Seattle City Council's Transportation Committee that there are 674 bearing pads that must be replaced, because they're not stiff enough.

"There was an error by the design consultant in the spec'ing of the bearing pads," said SDOT's Mike Terrell.

You can't see the bearing pads from from the driver's seat; they're under the bridge decking.

"They're in between the substructure of the bridge and the girder," said SDOT's Lorelie Williams.

The bearing pads were installed as part of an earthquake strengthening project that was completed July of 2012. SDOT says the bearing pads create a cushion and help transfer load.

On Tuesday we learned, prior to installation, SDOT actually caught the error on paper and told design consultant the Jacobs Engineering Group, but SDOT told committee members Jacobs never made the revisions to the final specifications and SDOT didn't catch it.

"I guess I can take ownership, our system should've caught it even in this case," said Terrell.

It wasn't until after the pads were installed and engineers noticed the pads compressing prematurely that they realized the mistake. Terrell told the committee Jacobs has taken ownership too and will pay for the fix.

"Our future work will look more closely at spec changes to make sure that they get caught," Terrell said.

"It sounds like there is a lesson learned in terms of rechecking the specs to make sure they do comply with your requirements," said Councilman Tom Rasmussen before wrapping up the Fauntleroy Expressway agenda item.

Most residents we met living and working near the Fauntleroy Expressway appreciated the contractor footing the repair bill.

"As long as he, or the contractor is taking responsibility, I think that is pretty noble even though he made the mistake in the first place," said West Seattle's Eleanor Jardine.

Drivers will have to endure 20 overnight and limited weekend west end bridge closures when work begins in April. West Seattle's Ahro remembers the 2011-2012 original bearing pad replacement project.

"There will be a lot of traffic even if it's at night," said Ahro.

SDOT plans to keep the shutdowns to a minimum.

KOMO 4 talked to the interim SDOT Deputy Director, who didn't want to minimize the mistake, but did point out that over the last 7 years SDOT has spent over $100 million fixing the most deficient bridges in the city using Bridging the Gap Levy monies.