(Below are our updates as the South Park Bridge closure unfolded. Processing video/photos now for separate stories later)
ORIGINAL 6:23 PM REPORT: We’re on the South Park Bridge – which will be an impossible feat in less than an hour – and it’s quite the scene, on and around the bridge.
People are streaming up and down the bridge on its sidewalks – City Councilmember Sally Clark just walked by our spot alongside the bridge-tender tower:
(Photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Across the way, there are decorations:
Right alongside the walkers, a just-as-steady stream of vehicles – some of which would pass this way anyway, some of which are clearly cruising for show (we’ve seen a few classic hot rods). Down on the brick path that a new bridge will – if all goes well – someday follow, there’s a group of tents. And in the street close to the south end of the bridge, there’s even a group of chairs, awaiting an audience for the bridge’s final “opening,” which also will be its closure. Every TV station in town is here too, of course, though they are vastly outnumbered by dozens, if not hundreds, of others with cameras large and small. Duwamish Tribe drummers are walking by, preparing for a ceremonial crossing. (Here’s Christopher Boffoli‘s photo of Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen with South Park resident Bill Owens, an organizer of tonight’s wake:)
Going the other way, toward the South Park end, Council President Richard Conlin, pushing his bicycle.
More to come; the crowd up here on the bridge continues to grow. Also here: newly nominated-to-be-permanent SPD Chief John Diaz.
6:47 PM: We’re going offline for a bit to cover these final minutes. The hooting and hollering is starting to build. Up here atop the bridge, it’s shoulder-to-shoulder, and then some.
7:33 PM: People are still thronging the bridge – some have pried off the round yellow lane markers – the final vehicles to cross, in both directions, were classic buses, both long gone, but we’re not sure yet how all the people will be cleared. See our Twitter feed for tons of photos, till the bridge is officially closed. Wait – we can hear some official-sounding calls to clear the bridge – looks like the moment is nigh.
8:04 PM: RIP South Park Bridge – after a spate of crowd resistance – the last few hundred on the bridge refused orders to move all the way down to the street, and held steady about 10 yards behind the bridge gates. So at right around 8 o’clock straight up, the sirens sounded one last time, and the bridge, decorated with pink tulle, opened one last time.
Some are still milling, and a Transit Police car is here just in case (it moved in to help convince the crowd to at least move behind the gates). After the bridge leaves finished rising, the crowd began to sing “Amazing Grace,” followed by a round of “South Park Bridge is falling down” (to the tune of London Bridge). More later. P.S. The Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) T-shirts were seen in force.
8:15 PM: Your editor here is the last person atop the bridge. Time to leave. Sounds of the celebration/wake are rising from the restaurants below.
9:40 PM: Until we move this into a separate story – video of the bridge’s final moments, followed by toasts, and a hymn: