West Seattle Transportation Coalition, report #1: Low-bridge early warning; new ‘corridor’ designation

So much information emerged at last night’s meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, it’ll take us three stories to report it all. For starters, there’s a hint of progress on the issue of “low bridge” vessel openings during commute periods.

Updates were from WSTC’s Marty Westerman, who’s been focused on the issue, and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s legislative assistant Evan Clifthorne (above left).

Two key points: First, a “West Seattle Bridge Transportation Corridor” designation is being pursued, to enable the low and high bridges, as well as other key routes, to be viewed holistically, in a big-picture way, which could facilitate better solutions to short- and long-term problems.

That includes the issue of how cross-Duwamish surface traffic is affected when the “low bridge” opens during peak commuter hours. Clifthorne pointed out Rasmussen’s past efforts (2008 and 2010 in particular).

He mentioned a meeting this past Monday involving “maritime interests” including the U.S. Coast Guard and Port of Seattle; the discussion included the November 12th “perfect storm” (detailed in our traffic coverage that day) with a slow-to-clear incident backing up traffic on the high bridge, while maritime use backed up surface traffic on the low bridge.

Clifthorne said it was proposed that SDOT be given very early warning of upcoming bridge openings so that it could get the word out far enough in advance for car/truck/bus drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to avoid getting stuck. This would be written into the Harbor Safety Plan for the Duwamish Waterway, he said, so that “every time the vessels go through their checklists, one item will be that they let the bridge operator know with as much warning as possible when exactly they are going to be at the bridge.” Once that is finalized, SDOT would have to figure out how to communicate that information to the public. (Right now, there’s seldom advance warning – SDOT uses Twitter and signage to announce that the low bridge IS closed to surface traffic, not that it will close.)

Clifthorne stressed that “this is NOT a final solution (but it’s) an important starting piece for the conversation … a very positive step, with the key takeaway, a community of folks who several years ago felt they were on opposite sides of an issue, this time around … on the same page and moving forward together.”

As for a timeline, he said this will likely come before the Harbor Safety Committee in February, though some participants in Monday’s meeting felt it could start sooner.

The “transportation corridor” discussion will apparently move faster; Clifthorne said an announcement could come as soon as next week regarding a “process forward,” involving other city leaders including Mayor Murray.

Coming up in WSTC report #2 – Still no love for RapidRide-rerouting proposal in The Junction.

2 Replies to "West Seattle Transportation Coalition, report #1: Low-bridge early warning; new 'corridor' designation"

  • West Seattle Transportation Coalition December 10, 2014 (1:27 pm)

    Thank you to everyone who helped us press all these issues with constant chasing of elected officials to make this process unfold.

  • timeslid December 10, 2014 (2:19 pm)

    Thank you Mr. Westerman for your dogged pursuit of the lower bridge issue.

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