A majority of the more than 400 commenters during an online open house and series of drop-in sessions last month expressed a preference for an in-kind replacement of the Magnolia Bridge.

Now, as the Seattle Department of Transportation works toward identifying a preferred alternative in the coming months to replace the functional needs of the existing structure, that choice will be presented to decision-makers alongside updated figures for the one-for-one replacement.

“As our [SDOT] executives and our elected officials help form what they want to move forward with as far as putting together a funding package, they can really point directly to that direct comparison of the benefits of in-kind replacement and cost difference of in-kind replacement,” said project manager Wes Ducey in an interview with the Queen Anne & Magnolia News.

The decision to update the cost estimate and travel times via traffic modeling for the 30-percent replacement design may be the most notable development to come out of the latest round of community engagement, as the city determines its next steps regarding the aging structure.

While acknowledging that it’s “not our conversation to initiate or suggest,” Ducey noted that in this most recent phase of comments, several had brought up the idea of a local improvement district as a way to fund a replacement.

“With that conversation being different than we’ve heard in the past from Magnolia, and with a lot of communication from the community to our council members and to our executives, our executives decided that it makes sense at this point to provide that cost-benefit comparison of the in-kind versus the recommended alternative from this planning study,” he said.

Aside from the in-kind replacement, among the three alternatives being evaluated by SDOT, commenters strongly favored Alternative I — which includes a new crossing over the railroad tracks at Armory Way — while expressing skepticism regarding proposed improvements that would add capacity at West Dravus Street included in both Alternative II and III.

“People did not think a focus on Dravus could really work from what they’ve seen from recent traffic patterns and changes to infrastructure,” Ducey said.

As noted in a presentation made to the Magnolia Bridge Stakeholder Group last week, Alternative I would cost an estimated $200 and $350 million to build, Alternative II between $190 and $310 million, and Alternative III between $170 and $280 million. Those ranges are a product of all three options still being very early in the design process.

“We’re trying to really set expectations of where we’re at in the process,” Ducey said.

The estimated cost for the in-kind replacement is placed in the $340 to $420 million range, a figure reached by reviewing the bid list items from the 2008 study and updating those individual costs to the present-day.

SDOT still plans to wrap up its analysis of the alternatives later this summer, and begin presenting its findings to its executives toward the end of August or start of September. An intercept survey for Magnolia Village is also planned for September, to capture baseline data on  several variables, including how often people are visiting the business corridor, where they’re coming from, where they’re going, and how they got there. Another stakeholder meeting will be held sometime in the early fall, before a complete presentation is made to elected officials near the end of the year.

“This period is just a period of really completing our analysis and providing information back to the public,” Ducey said.

For more information on the Magnolia Bridge Planning Study, visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/magnoliabridgeplanning. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.