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May 5, 2011

Breaking of giant piñata marks start of construction for new South Park Bridge

Executive Constantine joined by Governor, Seattle Mayor and other elected officials and community members to mark occasion as part of Cinco de Mayo

A decade-long journey arrived at an important milestone today as King County Executive Dow Constantine welcomed Governor Chris Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin, Port of Seattle Commissioner Gael Tarleton, and other funders and community members to celebrate the long-awaited start of construction for a new South Park Bridge.

“Two years ago, I wrote my name on a wall not far from here to pledge I would do all I could to secure the funds to replace the South Park Bridge. Some thought this was an impossible task. But today we can say, we kept that promise,” said Executive Constantine, who formerly represented the area on the King County Council.

“Thanks to the governments and agencies that joined with us, we are going to keep this hard-working neighborhood in business,” added the Executive. “We can celebrate a community that is standing taller, has a stronger voice, and a more vibrant vision for its future as a result of this journey.”

The official start of construction on Cinco de Mayo was highlighted by the breaking of what may be the largest piñata ever built in the region. The giant 26-foot replica of the future South Park Bridge was constructed by local artist Alex Lopez and neighborhood volunteers.

The Executive credited Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Jim McDermott for their leadership in helping to secure a $34 million federal TIGER II (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) grant for bridge construction, and all the governments and agencies that committed funding and land:
• Federal TIGER II grant - $34 million
• King County – $30 million
• State of Washington – $20 million
• City of Seattle – $15 million
• Puget Sound Regional Council – $15 million
• State Transportation Improvement Board – $10 million
• Port of Seattle – $5 million
• State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board – $5 million (pending final approval by board and legislature)
• The Boeing Company – land for footings under the new bridge

“Construction of the new South Park Bridge will create about 100 good-paying jobs," said Executive Constantine. "Many of these workers will frequent businesses in the neighborhood, helping them to stay in operation."

The start of bridge construction comes just weeks after the joint venture of Kiewit Infrastructure West Company and Massman Construction Company was selected as contractor for the project. The winning bid came in just over $96 million, significantly less than the County’s initial construction estimate of $98 million - $108 million.

Initial construction work will involve mobilizing equipment and materials, which will be stored on each side of the river next to the existing bridge. That will be followed by construction of the main piers. This phase will involve significant in-river work utilizing large cranes, both in the river and on the existing bridge.  This work is expected to begin in August to coincide with the allowable period in-river work can be performed to avoid impacts on fish. The contractor also plans to utilize the existing bridge to support the construction of the new piers.

The county’s Road Services Division estimates the new bridge will be open by mid-2013, with project completion expected in late 2013.

The South Park Bridge was closed in mid-2010 for safety reasons. Recognizing the vital role the bridge plays in supporting the local economy and moving vehicles and freight, Executive Constantine, agency partners and community members were successful in putting together a funding package for a new bridge.

Before it closed, the bridge carried 20,000 vehicles and nearly 3,000 trucks each day over the Duwamish River. It served as an important connection for freight and Boeing Company facilities.

The old bridge also carried about 10 million tons of freight each year, much of it to local businesses and industries. Once complete, the new bridge will reconnect King County’s historic industrial heartland and neighborhoods in the Duwamish Valley.

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