Frequently asked question, answered: When will the new South Transfer Station open?

(May 2012 photo courtesy Hal Tangen)
Today, an answer to a question we’re asked increasingly often: When is the new South Transfer Station between West Seattle and South Park going to officially open?

The question is understandable, given that it’s now been almost half a year since the dedication ceremony for the $50 million state-of-the-art facility. Though there was a sizable media turnout for the ceremony, little coverage resulted, because starting literally minutes after the event on May 30th, the city was gripped by a crime rampage with ongoing reports filling newscasts, newspapers, and web pages (including ours): The murders of five people at Café Racer and a parking lot, a story that stretched from North Seattle to Downtown Seattle, then to West Seattle, where the killer committed suicide.

But ultimately, that had nothing to do with what has happened at the station, and not happened, in the months since. And even the official webpage for the project projected a summer opening – as in, weeks after the event. Since we’ve been getting questions about it, we just talked with Seattle Public Utilities for the latest update.

The short explanation, according to SPU spokesperson Andy Ryan: “We’re still working through the punch list.” Seems like a long time for a punch list, we suggested. Ryan elaborates, “A lot of little things just aren’t working perfectly, like the scales” – the automated chip readers that will be used with trucks are still not working reliably, and another issue is the sprinklers in the transfer station’s tunnel. “We’re behind schedule,” Ryan acknowledges, “but it’s more important that we get it right before we move into the next phase.”

That phase is scheduled to include a “shakedown” in January, when the city starts letting trucks in “to see how they do – there’ll be problems; we’ll fix them.” Then in early February, Ryan says, “we’ll let regular customers in, for limited hours” – that too will be more of a shakedown.

So when do they think it’ll be fully open for business? Ryan won’t get more specific than “first quarter” – sometime by the end of March, which will be 10 months after the dedication.

8 Replies to "Frequently asked question, answered: When will the new South Transfer Station open?"

  • sb in ws November 14, 2012 (11:38 am)

    Thanks for checking on this. Everytime I drive by I wondered the same question. Can’t wait to use it!

  • Dale November 14, 2012 (11:59 am)

    I missed this. I didn’t realize there was a problem with the old facility. Was there?

    • WSB November 14, 2012 (12:05 pm)

      It was old (almost half a century), dirty, inefficient, polluting, among other things.

  • Chris November 14, 2012 (1:33 pm)

    I drove by when they just put up the white steel superstructure, only to find that they had taken the whole thing down a couple weeks later. Several weeks later it was back up again. Any idea what was up with that?

    • WSB November 14, 2012 (1:38 pm)

      We reported on that at the time. They changed their mind about the paint and took it apart to repaint the steel with some kind of moisture-resistant paint as compared to the not-so-resistant paint.

  • Dale November 14, 2012 (2:26 pm)

    Thanks WSB!

  • Paul November 14, 2012 (3:31 pm)

    Thanks for the update, WSB. Long delays like this undermine people’s view of and faith in government’s efficiency and effectiveness. I’m glad SPU staff are focused on quality improvements but a 10-month delay is simply beyond any reasonable comprehension.

  • resident November 17, 2012 (9:55 am)

    They basically didn’t put any moisture protection on an exposed, steel-framed building that continously sprays water from the rafters inside to keep dust down. i’m shocked, shocked! i tell you to find out this well managed construction project is having more difficulties.

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