Patrick Robinson
After four years of closure, the new $162 million South Park Bridge will open for traffic at 6 AM on June 30. The community will celebrate with a party in the neighborhood the day before starting at noon.

SLIDESHOW: South Park Bridge will open June 30; Celebration will fill the neighborhood June 29

The South Park Bridge, rebuilt at a total cost of $162 million will open at 6am on June 30 but first a neighborhood celebration will take place the day before.

The effort to replace the original bridge that was open from 1931 to 2010 brought together community members, business partners, and government at the local, regional, state, and national levels. King County Executive was successful in building a coalition of agencies and with the assistance of U.S. Senator Patty Murray and U.S. Representative Jim McDermott the funds, much of them from a federal stimulus grant, were found to complete the project.

The bridge is similar in some regards to other Seattle area bridges but has features and functions unique to the neighborhood. Chief among those is the rain garden that lies on the southeast side of the bridge. The rain garden is both a design accent and a functional part of the project in that all runoff from the structure is routed to it where through a combination of soils and elements, the water is naturally filtered and then sent to the Duwamish River.

The railings on the bridge, as well as either side of the bridge incorporate part of the old bridge including chunks of railing, gears and even two large gear parts that raised and lowered the former structure. The parts have all been cleaned and coated to become a historical, artistic part of the new bridge.

The new bridge takes a slightly different course than the old bridge (which means they had room for the rain garden), and it has much wider lanes allowing for larger vehicles to pass more safely. Also new on the structure are the barriers. It's a double barrier system with the one closest to the pivot point on the bridge able to stop even a delivery truck should such an incident occur.

Part of the bridge were made all over the U.S. assembled in factories and then disassembled, shipped and put in place in Seattle.

The surrounding community played a big part in the bridge design and were consulted throughout the process according to King County officials.

But the impact of the return of a steady flow of traffic to the neighborhood is uncertain. Most of those who spoke to the Herald were cautiously optimistic. Ryan Ceurvorst, Marketing and Business Development Manager for Stockbox Grocers, there for just two years, said they were ordering a lot of new merchandise. "We know there will be thousands of people out front for the celebration and were planning for that and for the aftermath of having thousands go by every day. The hope is that we can increase or even double business. We just don't know," he said.

Some bullet point facts on the new bridge:

  • 27,600 cubic yards of concrete are in the bridge.
  • Two 75 horsepower motors are all that are required to raise and lower the bridge since it was engineered to have excellent balance and utilize mechanical advantage gearing.
  • New decking on the draw span is made of lightweight concrete, some 22% lighter than regular concrete
  • 750,000 feet of electrical wiring is built into the bridge

But first the party
The event will begin at noon on June 29. The official dedication ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. Festivities will include a parade across the bridge and a street party featuring music and other performances, as well as food and drink vendors. Participants will be able to walk across the bridge and tour its south tower.

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