Painting work set to begin on Seattle’s historic SR 99 Aurora Avenue Bridge: Two-year, $23.1 million project will preserve Seattle landmark

Washington State Department of Transportation


The passage of time and exposure to the elements have not always been kind to the State Route 99 Aurora Avenue Bridge in Seattle. But a repainting project starting Monday, Aug. 10, will help slow the aging process for the 84-year-old span.

Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will spend the next two years cleaning and painting portions of the bridge, including the original pedestrian rail. Sandblasting rust and applying new primer and paint will preserve the bridge and slow corrosion.

“Most of the painting will occur underneath the bridge, except for the handrail work,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Dave Lindberg. “We’ll be painting crucial sections of the support structure where the paint is flaking, peeling and causing corrosion.”

Painting details

Crews from Hercules Painting Company, Inc. will clean and paint the pieces known as floor beams and stringers. The floor beams are large sections of steel under the concrete deck that extend the width of the bridge. The stringers connect to the floor beams and run the length of the bridge.

Due to the bridge’s size and height, the painting work will be done in sections. In each section, the contractor crews will place a containment system and work platform around a designated area. This will protect the surrounding areas from debris, paint and other work. The contractors will strip off the existing paint; clean, repair and replace decaying steel; and apply new primer and paint before moving to another section.

Lane closure details

Although most of the work will occur off the roadway, drivers and people who live nearby should be prepared for occasional lane and ramp closures. Some city streets under the bridge may also be closed at times. Closure information will be available on the King County construction update report.

Work plans call for the project to shut down during the winter months if the weather becomes too poor to maintain the containment system under the bridge.

The project is scheduled to be complete by summer 2017.

Bridge facts

  • Its formal name is the George Washington Memorial Bridge.
  • The bridge was built in 1931 and opened to traffic Feb. 22, 1932.
  • The bridge is more than 2,900 feet long and 167 feet above the water.
  • It was designated a city of Seattle landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.